Updated: July 15, 2023 by CanCat Eat
Cats have long been known for their independent nature, which has led many to believe that they cannot be trained to follow commands like their canine counterparts. However, expert experience, studies, and anecdotal evidence suggest that cats can indeed be trained, given the right approach and techniques, and it’s undeniably true because of the dramatic increase of people buying and selling kittens across the globe so this article will delve into the possibility of training cats to follow commands, and provide a detailed guide on how to begin training your feline friend effectively.
Can Cats Be Trained to Follow Our Commands?
Yes, cats can be trained to follow commands. While cats are often seen as more independent than dogs and may not have the same innate drive to please their owners, they are still smart, capable animals that can learn to perform tasks.
Cats Are More Independent Than Dogs
Cats are solitary hunters by nature, which means they have evolved to rely on their instincts and make decisions independently. This inherent independence is often mistaken for stubbornness or an inability to learn. However, cats are highly intelligent creatures that can be taught to follow commands if properly motivated.
Understanding Feline Learning Styles
Unlike dogs, cats do not have an innate drive to please their owners. Instead, they respond best to positive reinforcement and are highly motivated by rewards such as treats or praise. Understanding this distinction is crucial for anyone attempting to train their cat.
Physical and Mental Benefits of Training
Training your cat can have numerous benefits for both you and your pet. Teaching your cat to follow commands can help improve their mental stimulation, reduce boredom, and strengthen the bond between you and your feline companion. Additionally, training can help curb unwanted behaviors and make living with your cat more enjoyable.
How to Start Training Your Cat
1. Choose the Right Time
Cats are more likely to be receptive to training when they are relaxed and attentive. Choose a quiet and comfortable environment for your training sessions, and aim to train your cat when they are not overly tired or hungry. Training sessions should be kept short (5-15 minutes) and conducted regularly for the best results.
2. Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the most effective method for training cats. This involves rewarding your cat for desired behaviors, such as following commands, with treats, praise, or a favorite toy. The key is to be consistent and provide the reward immediately after the desired behavior is performed.
3. Clicker Training
Clicker training is a popular method used to train cats, as it helps bridge the gap between the desired behavior and the reward. A clicker is a small device that produces a distinct clicking sound when pressed. By using the clicker immediately after your cat performs the desired behavior, you can effectively communicate to your cat that they have done something right and that a reward is coming.
4. Start with Simple Commands
Begin by teaching your cat simple commands, such as “sit” or “come.” Start by using a treat or toy to lure your cat into the desired position, then use the clicker to mark the behavior and provide the reward. Be patient and consistent, and gradually increase the difficulty of commands as your cat becomes more comfortable with the training process.
5. Avoid Punishment
Punishing your cat for not following commands or displaying unwanted behaviors can be counterproductive and may even damage the bond between you and your pet. Instead, focus on rewarding desired behaviors and redirecting your cat’s attention away from undesirable actions.
Training Your Cat to Follow Specific Commands
Let’s look at a couple of basic commands that you can teach your cat:
Teaching Your Cat to Sit
- Hold a treat near your cat’s nose, then slowly move the treat up and slightly back over its head. As your cat follows the treat with their eyes, their rear end should naturally lower to the ground.
- As soon as your cat sits, use the clicker to mark the behavior and provide the treat as a reward.
- Repeat this process several times, gradually introducing the command “sit” as your cat becomes familiar with the action. Once your cat constantly sits in response to the threat, begin using the verbal command without the threat and reward them only after they have followed the command.
Teaching Your Cat to Come
- Begin by choosing a specific word or phrase, such as “come” or “here,” to use as the command. Be consistent in using this command throughout the training process.
- Stand a short distance away from your cat and call them using the chosen command, while holding a treat or toy to get their attention.
- As soon as your cat comes to you, use the clicker to mark the behavior and reward them with a treat or toy.
- Gradually increase the distance between you and your cat, and practice the command in various locations and situations to help generalize the behavior.
Teaching Your Cat to Stay
- Begin by having your cat in a seated or lying down position. Hold a treat or toy in front of them to gain their attention.
- Slowly move the treat or toy away from your cat while giving the command “stay.” Be sure to maintain eye contact and use a firm, calm tone of voice.
- If your cat remains in place, return to them, use the clicker to mark the behavior, and reward them with the treat or toy.
- Gradually increase the duration and distance of the “stay” command, always returning to your cat to reward them for their compliance.
Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained to follow commands with the right approach and techniques. By understanding the differences between feline and canine learning styles, and employing positive reinforcement and clicker training methods, you can teach your cat to perform a variety of tasks and behaviors. Training your cat not only improves your relationship with your pet but also provides much-needed mental stimulation and enrichment, ultimately leading to a happier, more well-adjusted kitty companion.