By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) — Cats. Snoozy, wily, whiskery, silky, sometimes scary, erratic, jumpy cats. Cats are notoriously independent and certainly seem to have a very definite mind of their own. So, considering their personality traits, is it really possible to teach an old cat new tricks?
Cat owners often think that their cat is just too moody to listen. Other more judgmental folks feel their cats are un-trainable due to deep seeded arrogance. Yet, regardless of your cat’s personality, it’s more likely you are not getting cooperation because your cat doesn’t understand what you want from him or her. After all, are you speaking in cat? If you’ve been trying to train your cat and so far your results have been dismal, the fact is, you just may not be doing it right.
To raise a good kitty takes time and patience. A lot more time and patience than required to train most puppies or dogs. Yet–whether you’re trying to train a cat, dog, any other animal or a human, the most sure fire way to get results is to use positive reinforcement. Whatever you do, stop scolding your cat! Do you like to get yelled at? All that scolding will get you is a bit of sneaky misbehaving that’s likely to happen exactly where you don’t want it, when you don’t happen to be looking. Instead of scolding, be positive. Praise your cat’s good behavior.
Although you can teach a cat new tricks at any age, given the opportunity, it is smart to to start kitten training at about eight to ten weeks old. But, with love and patience, your pet cat will respond well to consistent and patient training at any age.
To get started determine your cat’s mood. Wait for a good mood — which may take a while to appear because certainly we all know a key defining cat trait is moodiness. Be assured, if you pay attention, that happy mood will come and when it does, this is the day to start your training lesson. Begin with training basics. Aim to train your cat to come when called. As in all good training programs, bribery works. Hold your cat’s favorite treat firmly in your hand and call his name. Make sure to start this training in a quiet room. Distractions and noise will slow down progress or simply confuse your cat. Decide on one, direct and clear command and use only it over and over again. The command should be short and easy to say. For example, “Come kitty!” or “Here kitty!” work well.
Next, get down on your cat’s level. Sit or kneel on the floor, then give the command. Make sure your voice is enthusiastic and happy. When the cat comes to you, reward him or her with the treat. Also, spout a lot of praise to your cat as well.
After lots of praise and petting, move away and do the same thing again. The goal is to use the same tone of voice and the same command. Work on it for no more than ten minutes. If the cat is bored or frustrated, stop for the time. Try to do this two or three times a day for about a week. Once he gets this command, you can move on to others.
Some things that your cat needs to learn are for his or her own well being. For example, cats need to learn to tolerate a harness and a leash in case you need to travel together. Also, your cat should learn to use a crate.
Beginning to use a leash or harness is tricky. The first time you put a leash or harness on your cat, try to do it in a very open area. Once it is in place, do not restrain him. Let your can run around. Praise him for wearing the collar. Give her a treat for behaving so well. Once your cat is used to wearing it, attach the leash to it and let him lead you throughout the area. Coax him or her into following you by offering plenty of favorite treats and praise. Some cats will learn to heel on the leash. But, most will not. The real goal of leash training your cat is to get him or her to learn to not panic or to struggle when situations require wearing a leash.
When it comes to the crate, this training can be done a little more simply. Cats like warm dark places so put a comfortable blanket and maybe even a favorite toy of your cat’s inside the crate. Give your kitty praise when you place him or her in it. Then, leave your cat in the crate for a few minutes. Let him out within three to five minutes. Don’t praise him when he’s coming out of the crate because you do not want him to think coming out is the good thing. This said, make sure to reward your cat whenever he or she does goes into the crate. Leave the cat in the crate a little longer each time. Eventually your cat will be trained well enough so before long, you might be surprised that your cat may actually like their new cozy home.
Training your cat is a challenge, but hopefully these simple tips will help you and your cat become better roommates.