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by Denyse Lessard March 12, 2015 7 min read1 Comment
Curiosities are a natural part of our lives and pets make no exception. While it is a piece of cake to train some of them, you are in for a very hard time with others. Keeping this in mind, training a cat most probably seems hopeless, but in truth, with strong will and patience, anything is possible. Naturally, you cannot expect Puss in Boots entertainment from your pet but you can teach him valuable habits and even tricks. It is important to know, understand, and support your cat in order to start getting something in return.
Begin by observing your cat’s behavior closely. A successful parent is not only loving and caring, but attentive as well. Learn everything pertaining to your little darling’s habits, character traits, favorite places, toys and food. Focus your attention on how the kitty reacts to different circumstances, surfaces, and people – what excites him or drives him completely bored. If you want to teach him off his bad habits, find the source of the mischief. For example, if your feline is into scratching valuable surfaces, detect what is so thrilling about the act and remove the origin of the fuss. You can use special sprays or cover your sofa with a canvass less appealing to the claws. In the same fashion, if you want to start teaching your cat important lessons, you should know exactly how to reward him for the good work. No effort is free, especially when it comes to cats.
Stack up a variety of favorite treats. These must be no ordinary chews or toys. Your cat should learn that he can count on special treatment only when he has done something to deserve it. Gourmet dishes are most appropriate for the case although they are considerably more expensive than the regular ones. Keep in mind, however, that training a cat is no easy venture and you should be ready to sacrifice valuable time and financial resources in order to achieve the desired results. Luckily for you, cats are absolute gluttons; they will do almost anything for a delicious serving. The same goes for entertainment – these otherwise so lazy animals are craving quality fun time and are willing to become your slaves for the right toy. Therefore, after you have observed them carefully, make a list and supply your kitchen cabinet with all highly treasured delights. And don’t worry – the purpose is not to go broke, so you will need those only for the first stage of the training.
Forget all reprimanding techniques. Unlike dogs, cats do not respond well to heavy discipline, scolding, and punishments. Negative attitude will get you nowhere, so better arm yourself with patience. Cats are almost never caught in the act of mischief which makes it very hard to show them what exactly they did wrong. What is more, if you punish them for something they did, it is most likely that they would do it again solely out of spite – because you dared treat them badly. Do not forget that pride plays a huge role in the feline psychology. Cats have godly self-esteem and any attempt to bring them to earth will cost you dearly. In addition to that, exercising domination causes stress for the animals which is detrimental for their health and overall well-being.
Use treats instead of punishment approach. Choose only one trick or habit you would like your cat to acquire, and start with it. Do not rush. Provide careful guidance in the form of a play with yummy rewards. Show your kitty that the better he does, the greater the palatal pleasure will be. If you have chosen the right gourmet treats, the little pal will swallow his pride and dance to your tune. Stick to the first trick as long as necessary because once your cat grasps the teaching mechanism, every next trick will be easier. Repeat the training program over and over but make sure not to bore or over treat him. You do not want the scales to your disadvantage. Remember that this is a game of psychological, not physical superiority.
Try a clicker. The emphasis is on TRY because, although this is a highly praised method, not every cat responds to the clicker positively. It is a great approach for the training of some felines to substitute the reward treat with the sound of a clicker at an advanced stage of the process. When you indicate that something is right by applying the clicker, your cat will not always be waiting for a delicacy to know he is on the right track. However, the chances for this device working out for you are fifty-fifty. It is worth giving it a try but do not count on it exclusively.
It is time to put theory to practice and see how good of an instructor you actually are. You can start with either one of the following tricks:
This simple trick is great to begin your cat’s training with. The result is fun while in the same time it acquaints your cat with the action-reward concept. What is more, learning a joint trick makes you accomplices and brings you closer together. We all know that, unlike dogs, most cats refrain themselves from showing strong emotions, but such quality time spent together will additionally teach your cat to express fondness.
Get a box of your little friend’s favorite treats and take him to a silent room where both of you will feel comfortable, for instance the bedroom or the couch in the living room. Get a piece of the treats and let the kitty smell it. Once you get his attention, move the delicacy away from him, so that he tries to reach it with his paw. Repeat several times and give him the treat. Raise your hand in the same fashion as before but this time without the treat. When your cat gives you high five, grant him a treat from another direction, so that he understands the treat is the result of his good performance. This is also a good time to use a clicker or a signal of your own to indicate a job well done. Gradually the high five will become a habit and you will need neither a clicker, nor any special gourmet spoiler.
Training your cat to use the actual toilet instead of its litter box is a phenomenal achievement and saves you money and considerable time for cleaning. It is much more hygienic and spares you the trouble of finding cat litter everywhere in the house. The trick, however, requires solid patience shield as it takes at least 2-3 months to build this routine.
To begin with, place your cat’s litter box in the bathroom. It is also a good idea to start using the bathroom while he is also in there, so that you show him where you go for your physical needs. Positioning the two toilets close to each other creates the feeling of interchangeability, even identity. Bring the litter box a little closer to the toilet every other day. After your cat has gotten used to this proximity, raise the box on a stool or a cabinet next to the toilet so that they are on the same height level. Finally, put a metal or plastic container with cat litter in the toilet itself. This step is the hardest for the cat but once you are through with it, you can remove the container entirely and you can enjoy the miracle. The one thing you might not be able to train your cat to do is pushing the flush button himself.
You will never turn your cat into a dog but you can still train him to bear a slight resemblance by teaching him to play fetch. It is a game which is fun both for you and your pet and more importantly supplies him with the necessary daily exercise in order for him to stay healthy. One way to start is identifying his favorite toy and using it as the object of the game. Another option is to buy a small, bouncing rubber ball. It is perfect because it bounces farther and your kitty is in for a serious play, while on the other hand the squishy material teases the claws, making it an even more interesting object.
Remember that cats have a natural instinct to carry something in their mouth, especially the female felines, so the trick is to teach them to bring the ball back to you. Once you throw it and your cat gets a hold of it, take it gently from him and go back to the initial position. Throw again and repeat until your pet realizes how much fun this is. He will want more of the game and will bring the ball to you once he sees you are not getting it yourself. After you have trained him with the rubber object, you can do the same with his other toys.
Step by step you can turn your little pal into the best home entertainment ever. Do not forget to appreciate and reward him, and to make the training activities a pleasure for both of you. From there onwards – the sky is the limit.
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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE THERAPIST
Denyse Lessard is a therapist in alternative medicine.
She has an extensive educational background and has earned multiple degrees, including diplomas in Chinese medicine, Reflexology, Naturopathy & Iridology, and Homeopathy. She is also a member of the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec, and the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec.
When working with her patients, Denyse believes in not only helping pets achieve optimum health, but keeping them in tip-top shape for their entire lives.
We invite you to learn more about Denyse's expertise in the alternative field.
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March 30, 2016
It was very easy to teach one of my rescue kittens to fetch. Only to realize when I wake up in the morning I have several pom poms surrounding me on my bed. Apparently someone trying to get my attention during “off” hours. Thank you for all your tips and tricks!!