June 12, 2019

Cat Training 101: How to Train a Cat to do Anything!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

woman showing how to train a cat to give a high five

Most people might think that there is no way how to train a cat. Are cats even trainable? Aren’t they aloof, arrogant, self-pleasing, schmucks? No! They are very rewarding, affectionate, and loving pets. Plus, they can be trained.

Whether you want to train your puss to come when you call. Or, whether you want to teach them super cool tricks like giving high-fives…. It is all totally do-able. Read on for the how-to!

First Time Cat Owners Might Not Know How Trainable Cats Are!

Don’t be fooled by that suave chap in his tuxedo with his nonchalant air. Cats are clever. Probably a little too clever for our good. They know how to work a crowd.

They know how to get through life without doing anything that they don’t want to do. But… It is this very cleverness that makes them so trainable. With the right tools and know-how, you can train your cat a couple of tricks and skills to make your lives together that much more enjoyable!

How to Train a Cat to Do Just About Anything: Clicker Training

Most people might have heard about clicker training for dogs. Maybe even for dolphins and horses. Clicker training is the number one most effective way to train just about any animal to do just about anything!

Clicker training is a rewards-based training technique. It has roots in classical and operant training. Clicker training stems from the scientific principle that an animal will repeat behaviors if its actions are immediately followed by a reward.

What Can a Cat Learn with Clicker Training?

You can train a cat to go potty in the ‘right’ place, not scratch furniture, and come for mealtimes. You can also teach your beloved feline some cool party tricks. For example, shake hands, roll over and jumping through hoops.

Clicker training for cats can help them to feel more secure. It also serves to stimulate them mentally. This is especially important for the very active and intelligent breeds such as the Savannah cat, Bengal, and Bombay.

Keeping your cat intellectually stimulated will help to lessen some negative behaviors. Training your cat can strengthen the bond between you. It is a fun and rewarding activity for both pet parent and pussy cat.

How to Train Cats with a Cat Clicker

Training cats with a clicker is straight forward. The first thing that you must do once you have your clicker (or similar) is to ‘prime’ it. The cat must know what the clicker means, i.e, a reward is to follow shortly! The cat should associate something positive with the sound of the clicker.

The First Step

So, with delicious treats in hand, press your clicker. Immediately after clicking, give your feline a treat. Once your cat has eaten and looks back up at you, click and treat again. Keep repeating this a few times. It can take between five and twenty repetitions until your pet makes the connection between the click and the cat treats.

Cats do not have attention spans that last as long as those of dogs. Keep training sessions below five minutes each. Rather do two or three shorter training sessions in a day than one long one.

person showing how to discipline a kitten

Love Seeing Cats Standing Up? Here’s Get Your Cat Standing Up!

Once you have created that positive association with the sound of the clicker, you can use the clicker to train your cat to do just about anything. A handy technique to pair with clicker training is to get your cat to ‘target’ an object. It can be the eraser-end of a pencil, a chopstick, or a pen.

Hold the ‘target’ about two inches away from your furry friend. Because cats are a curious sort, they will automatically reach out to touch the object. As they do so, click once and toss a treat in their direction. Move the pencil away from their line of vision. Repeat.

The Next Step: Get Mittens to Stand Up

Once you and your four-legged friend have mastered the art of the target, you can use this to train for other tricks.

For standing up: Hold the target a little above your cat’s head. Once they reach up to touch it, click and reward. Do this a couple of times, gradually increasing the height at which you hold the target. If you want your feline to hold the ‘standing position’ for a length of time, you can gradually increase the length of time between the cat touching the target and you clicking and rewarding.

Do you want to add a word cue to this trick? Once your cat has got it down, you can add a word cue as you click. For example:

  1. Hold target above cat’s head.
  2. Cat reaches up and touches target.
  3. You click and say “Pretty”.
  4. You give a reward.

After a while, you should be able to simply use the word cue to get your cat to ‘stand up’!

cat standing up during cat training session

How to Train Your Cat to Roll Over

Teaching your cat how to roll over will follow a very similar method to teaching your cat to stand up. Instead of getting your cat to touch the target above its head, use the target to lure the cat down into a lying position. Then gradually coax it to roll over. You can also train this trick by simply luring your cat with a treat instead of using the target.

Does Mittens Have Some Bad Behavior? The Benefits of Training Cats

Does your feline scratch your couches? Is your favorite armchair looking a little raggedy? No more. Once you have mastered the art of clicker training your kitten, you can move on to some meaningful training.

To discourage your puss from scratching furniture, provide them with a suitable cat scratching post or board. Every time that they scratch this item instead of your furniture, click and reward. With time, they will learn to only sharpen their claws on their scratching posts and not on your furniture!

Cat Training Basics: How to Potty Train a Cat

Potty training a cat is easy! Cats have an instinct to bury their poop. If the litterbox is clean and easily accessible you should have no trouble at all to train your cat to make appropriate use of it.

How to Train a Kitten in Potty Etiquette

Location, location, location! Your kitten’s litter box must be easily accessible. They also prefer a little privacy when performing their ablutions. Place the cat litter box in an area where there is not a lot of foot traffic. Cleanliness above godliness. The litter box should be placed a good distance away from where your kitten will be napping and eating.

How to Litter Train a Cat That Lives Indoors

By nature, cats are very clean creatures. They will gravitate towards using a litter tray as a toilet. If you are introducing a new cat into your home and want them to learn to use a litter tray. Confine them in one or two rooms with the cat’s litter tray close at hand.

As they get the idea of going potty in the correct spot, you can gradually increase the amount of space that they have access to.

small kitten learning how to litter train a cat

With Enough Training, You’ll Never Need to Wonder How to Punish a Cat

Cats do not respond well to punishment. Full stop. Punishing a cat can completely backfire. It can make your pet stressed and fearful, which can lead to behavioral issues.

With clicker training, you use positive reinforcement to promote good behaviors and weed out any bad behaviors.

Common Questions About How to Train a Cat

Is it Easy to Train a Cat?

How Do You Train a Cat to Come to You?

Can Cats Learn Commands?

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