Training is something we most often associate with dogs, but as you've probably come to expect with owning a cat, our feline friends are full of surprises!
When it comes to the question can you train a cat, the answer is absolutely. You can teach your kitty all sorts of new skills and tricks, although we recommend stocking up on a bag or two of the best cat treats first to reward them and help keep them motivated.
So, where does one start with cat training we hear you ask. Well, certified cat trainer and behaviorist Maria Kozlova has outlined the basics in a recent Instagram post, so no matter your experience, you can begin training your cat whenever you like.
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First, Kozlova recommends finding a quiet location with no distractions. This might mean choosing your training times wisely, or clearing a space. It’s probably a good idea to train your cat away from other animals or young children, too, and make sure you aren’t distracted either – although, of course, that can be easier said than done sometimes!
And, keep sessions short if you can. “Aim for daily practice lasting 5-10 minutes,” says Kozlova. It makes sense – you don’t want your furry friend to get bored! Little and often makes more sense than longer, but less frequent, sessions.
Is clicker training for cats recommended? “Use a clicker to ‘mark’ good behavior,” confirms Kozlova. “The clear sound, followed by a treat, helps your cat understand what’s rewarded.” And remember to reward positively.
Treats are good, of course, but petting and fussing and even affectionate words will all reinforce your cat’s positive behavior. Cats and dogs are different, and cats often don’t have the same desire to please us as dogs do, so it can be a good idea to try different things and deduce just what your cat prefers as a reward.
When training your cat, you might find that they’ll bite or scratch at one point or another. Kozlova recommends redirecting them to toys or scratching posts. But whatever you do, avoid punishing your cat physically, as this may cause fear, or you might find yourself wondering how to calm an aggressive cat further down the line.
Finally, remember to be consistent, and to be patient – both are key. As Kozlova explains, you should “Use the same commands and rewards to help your cat understand and remember what to do,” and keep trying if they don’t catch on straight away. Don’t expect to see instant results. However, if you stick with training, you will see some results over time!
If there’s a particular problem you’re looking to tackle, here are seven common cat behavior problems solved!
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.