Believe it or not you can train your cat do to tricks, obey commands, and even use the toilet! just like a dog can. Training a cat is not much more difficult than training a dog but their are some major differences in how you go about it. Cats are not naturally driven to work with humans like a dog is, so they require a little bit more attention in order for them to go along with it. But with enough time your cat will be the life of every party!
The first thing you should know before starting to train your cat is that they do not respond to negative enforcement. Stress is the most common cause for behavioral problems in cats and punishing them for not listening will definitely add to their stress levels. You should only use positive reinforcement for training your cat. Treats are probably the easiest way to get your cat to trust in you and want to make you happy. Before training your cat make sure he is happy and has as little stress in his life as possible. Some nice cat furniture and toys are important to have in your home to keep him feeling good. They sell lots of great cat furniture at Hello Frogs as well as many other pet stores.
- Special treats
Cats can be difficult to motivate and using some plain treats most likely will not do the trick. Get your cat something special like small bits of turkey or chicken or moist commercial cat treats and only give it him/her as a reward. Giving treats out to often will result in your cat not understanding what caused him to be rewarded. Here is a blog with a great list of treats your cat will love. “10 treats your cat will love.”
Start with a simple “trick” and reward your cat whenever he does it. Something as simple as chasing a toy you toss or getting onto your lap when you call him.
Repeat step 2 for about 15 minutes a day. Do not keep repeating the trick for long periods of time because cats are easily bored. by overdoing it your cat will stop wanting to do it at all. Make sure however you repeat this every day so your cat understands he gets rewarded for these actions.
- Treat weening
Start weening off the treats. Get yourself a clicker or choose a sound for your cat that you will use to make your cat know it did something good. Start off each training session by making the sound and then giving your cat a treat before doing any tricks. This will make sure your cat knows that the sound means something good. Now each time your cat does the trick make the sound and then reward him with a treat. Slowly work your way down each day giving less treats and using the sound as the only reward. Make sure you make the sound and give the treat as soon as your cat performs the trick. If you wait to long your cat might not realize why he is being rewarded. They sell pet clickers at most pet stores and will work for cats and dogs.
- Trick mastery
As your cat starts to perform the trick faster and easier give less and less treats until the only reward your cat gets is the happy sound and praise from you. Once this happens you can now start teaching him another trick.
Cats are smart animals who can be taught just about any trick a dog can be taught. Lay down, stay, sit, and even more advanced tricks like play dead and roll over. In fact, you can use this technique to train your cat to use a human toilet!