Guess what, those cutesy YouTube videos you watch where cats pee in the toilet are all real. Cats are receptive to training – you can train them to sit, follow commands and even use the toilet like we humans do.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to train your cat.
List do’s and don’ts
Make a list of dos and don’ts. It’s the first thing you need. The do’s in the list are to be followed religiously while the don’ts are to be avoided. Normally, the do’s include rewarding ways to handle cats so they feel encouraged and the don’ts include refraining from punitive measures that create learning blocks.
Here are the dos.
Do use vocal cues
Cats and dogs are receptive to vocal cues. It has not only been the experience of cat owners but a scientific finding as well. Neurological investigations found that sounds made by owners stimulate different areas in cat’s brains.
Hence, you should use vocal cues to train your cat. Feeding, resting, playing – when you are instructing the cat to follow these activities, use different sound and hand gestures. For example, you can say “eeeeet” clearly and distinctly while opening a can of grain meat – a staple food for cats. Your cat will begin to associate this verbal cue with food.
This is how training is given. Of course, there are other techniques and mastering them takes time. But once you master them, training your cat becomes super easy.
Use substitute tools
It’s not always possible to use the right training tools. Use replacement tools in such moments. For example, owners train their cat to use the toilet but they mostly use a stool for this. Getting your cat used to a litter box means half the training done. You can use a throwaway plastic-made box as a replacement.
Make learning entertaining
Treat your at the same way you treat a kid. Remember if you can make learning entertaining for them, they’ll learn in next to no time. It’s very simple actually. All you need to do is give them a treat once they complete a certain task.
For example, when you are training the cat to shake hand with you, have a catnip candy hidden in your palm. If your four legged friend can, indeed, succeed in shaking hand with you, give the candy to him. Animals have it ingrained in them that if you repeat the practice over and over again, at a certain point they’ll beg on command without needing the treat.
To get to that point, you must make the whole learning experience gratifying.
Now the list of don’ts, starting with
Don’t stress them out
Never push your cat to the limit. As stated above, learning should be a fun-filled experience for him, not something that’d frighten him. If you make him overly stressed, he’d become apathetic to learning.
Putting cats on a leash is common. Cats get accustomed to it too. However, don’t put the leash around his neck. Put it around his back. And don’t forget to release him from the leash when he’s indoor. Some owners put the leash even when the cat is inside which just adds to further stress. As an owner, you must keep your cat happy, not pressured and tensed.
Don’t keep windows open
Another thing never to do when cats are around is keeping the window panes open. Unless a cat is highly trained, he might jump through an open window. I suggest you install glass-pitted transparent frames for your window. This would allow your cat to see outside even when the window is closed. You can train him to sit on the ledge that’s inside the house and not jump. When the training is complete, open the window panels and check if he’s trained enough to resist the temptation of jumping outside.
Never scold or punish
You should follow this as a rule of thumb. Don’t ever punish your cat as that might result in negative reinforcement. Nothing can be as bad as learning through negative reinforcement. Sure, your cat will learn not to do certain things, but in the process it will lose the spirit needed for spontaneous training.
Don’t plan long sessions
Training sessions shouldn’t be overly long. Long sessions exhaust cats and and exhaustion and boredom are obstructions to learning. Secondly, when you organize multiple short-duration training sessions, it appears repetitive to the cat. Akin to humans, animals also get used to things that they keep repeating. If the training sessions are short, your cat will repeat the lessons learned and become better trained.
Having a cat sounds fun but living with an untrained cat is not so much of fun. It’s wise to have the cat trained. Follow the do’s and don’ts discussed above and to train your cat.