Training Your Cat
Although cats are considered notoriously hard to train, it is not impossible to teach your old (or new!) cat a few new tricks. Training your cat is much like training your dog: by focusing on positive reinforcement, you can guide your cat into doing what you want them to do. Bonus: you get to bond with them along the way!
Taking Your Cat For A Walk
If you have an exclusively indoor cat, I’m sure you watch your cat as they watch the world move outside. If you have birds outside, some cats will even open and “click” their jaws in anticipation. But if you’re afraid that your cat will run away if you take them outside, we’ve got a solution for you: a cat harness.
Cat harnesses are affordable, easy to use, and a great way to recreate safely with your cat. To get started, distract your kitty with some premium treats while you put the harness on and adjust it. It may take a few tries before you get it just right, so don’t be afraid to take it off, adjust, and try again during your session. If your cat is getting annoyed, take a break before resuming adjustments.
When your cat is snug in their new harness, just let them get used to it inside. They may roll around or paw at it to try and get it off. Eventually, they’ll give up. When they’re no longer hating the harness, you can move outside with them. Attach the leash and go for your first adventure! Most cats will spend a lot of time stationary before getting bold enough to walk around, so be patient. And have a good grip on the leash, in case something spooks them.
Teaching Your Cat A Trick
To learn tricks, cats rely on positive reinforcement just like dogs do. Negative reinforcement (shouting, spraying with a bottle, etc.) doesn’t serve you well when you’re trying to teach tricks. Instead, wait for the right behavior to surface and then reward them!
How To Reward Your Cat
Clickers are great for advanced tricks, or just to save money on treats. To begin clicker training with your cat, you just need to get them to associate the sound of the clicker with a treat. You can buy a clicker and follow the instructions listed in the guide that’ll come with it. Click - then give a treat - until the pattern is established. Then slowly make the treats random and less frequent compared to the clicks, and boom! You’ve got a clicker-trained cat. If that seems like an awful lot of trouble, don’t worry: you can just use treats with your cat. It’ll work the same.
Teach Your Cat To Sit
Teaching your cat to sit is a remarkably easy trick that, unsurprisingly, follows the same pattern as teaching your dog to sit. To get your cat to sit, corral them into a quiet and boring space. Make sure your other animals cannot distract or frighten your cat.
Use a treat to get their attention, and then give the command, “Kitty, sit!” or something similar, and use the treat to guide their nose upwards. As their head goes up, they’ll be naturally inclined to sit for balance. When they’ve sat, praise them and give them the treat!
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When you first teach the trick, you’ll need to use treats exclusively, but be sure to wean your cat off of the treats as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a cat who refuses to sit on command without a piece of dried salmon or other kitty treat as their reward.
Whatever you do with your cat, know that learning new tricks and being able to go outside will stimulate your cat much more than lounging around the house and taking naps will. You will be able to bond with your cat and grow your relationship. Other easy tricks you can teach your cat include: teaching your cat how to “stand” on their back legs and reaching out with a paw for a treat. Good luck!