How To Train Your Cat

By Susan Miller
Copyright 2009

This article is written to help pet owners train their cats. All cats are different and training methods have varied results. It is highly advised that before training your cat you consult a veterinarian or a professional trainer.

The first thing many trainers say about cats is they’re not as smart as dogs.

It’s generally recognized that dogs have a better understanding of cause and effect than cats. Because of this, dogs can be trained to do a wide variety of tricks and tasks that cats cannot do. Certainly there are trainable felines but for the most part cats leave the tricks to the dogs.

The main thing most people want to train their cat to do is use the little box—everything after that is a bonus. The next two things are stopping cats from scratching the furniture and keeping them off counter tops. Fortunately, most house cats can be easily trained to do those things.

The most important thing to know about training cats is they don’t respond well to reprimands.

Your average kitty doesn’t really understand the concept of punishment. If you rub your cat’s nose in an “accident” he doesn’t realize that he’s not supposed to release on your brand new carpet. Instead, the cat starts to feel pain and fear every time you grab him by the back of the neck—that’s not good.

Ultimately, the best way to train your cat is through rewards. Offer a food treat to reinforce the behavior you want from them for example.

The other thing to keep in mind about cats is they become unruly when bored. The more inactive a cat the more likely they will become destructive. Every day set aside 20 to 30 minutes to play with your cat. This attention will keep your cat happy and healthy as well as easier to train.

Before training a cat to use the litter box, you’ll want to rule out a health problem like a urinary tract infection. In most cases what’s keeping your cat from using the litter box is a medical condition not an intense desire to defecate on your area rug. A cat that endures painful bowel movements will associate that pain with the litter box and avoid it.

A cat will also skip the little box if it’s full. You need to clean your cat’s box on a daily basis and regularly swap out their litter (they like about an inch and a half). On occasion you’ll want to rinse their box with water and to neutralize the smell of cat urine use lemon juice or vinegar.

In most cases, addressing your cat’s health problems and/or cleaning their litter box is all it takes. But if that doesn’t work, or if you’re dealing with a kitten, it’s quite easy to train your cat to use the litter box.

First, try to feed your cat at the same time every day. Cats have a digestive system that your Uncle Mort would kill for. Healthy cats are extremely regular. After a while, you’ll be able to use your cat’s bowel movements to set your watch.

About 15 minutes before your cat has to go take her into the room where her litter box is kept. Try to make the experience as pleasurable as possible. You can play with her for a few minutes and maybe even scratch the litter a few times to get her interested in the box (only if it’s clean of course).

Since she has nowhere else to go she will more than likely go in the litter box. When she does praise her and give her lots of love. You may even reward your cat with her favorite treat.

If your cat doesn’t go in the litter box don’t get discourage just try again. Patience is important when training a pet.

After a while your cat will realize that using the litter box is a pleasurable experience and will begin to use it without your cajoling.

Never allow a cat that doesn’t use the litter box to roam free in your house. If you need to leave a cat like this for extended periods of time keep her in a room (preferably one with a non-porous floor) with a clean litter box as well as fresh food and water.

Just remember that the best way to train your cat to use the litter box is to keep it clean, accessible, and make the entire experience as pleasurable as possible.

There are two ways to keep your cat from scratching your furniture and from getting up on your counter tops. Both ways involve making the behavior as uncomfortable as possible for your cat.

The first way to deter unwanted behavior is to squirt your cat with a water bottle or make a loud noise. Cats generally dislike getting wet and they especially despise loud obnoxious noises like pennies in a can, clapping, or a loud whistle.

Keep in mind that some cats have long coats and water won’t bother them very much. Not to mention that some cats even like getting sprayed with water (such as every cat I’ve ever owned). If that’s the case canned air is good alternative.

You will want to be sneaky when squirting and making loud noises. You want the cat to associate the water, or the noise, with their bad behavior and not you. This also ensures that the cat will stop the negative behavior all the time and not just when you’re around.

If you can’t hover over your cat all day you can apply certain materials and sprays to your furniture and counter tops that will keep them away.

For instance, double sided tape, tinfoil, plastic rubber spikes (the kind especially made for cats) and fragrant citrus fruits generally keep cats off surfaces. Cats don’t like the smell of citrus as the fruits’ acid makes them sick. There are also special sprays you can buy at pet stores or at your veterinarian’s office that will do the same thing.

Netting works well to protect furniture. Cats don’t like getting their claws caught in the material.

Make sure to provide an accessible scratching post. Contrary to what you may think cats don’t scratch your furniture to annoy you. They scratch to keep their claws sharp and their muscle firm. So giving them a safe place to scratch is vital for their health and happiness.

If you find your cat still prefers your limited addition Pottery Barn davenport try adding some cat nip to their scratching post.

Furthermore, keep your cat’s food and water away from all banned surfaces. The farther their food is from counter tops the more likely they are to stay off of them. It goes without saying but never feed your cat on a surface you wish for it to avoid.

With patience and love you can train your cat to use the litter box, refrain from scratching furniture and jumping onto counter tops. Just remember to use rewards not punishments to reinforce behavior. Cats don’t respond well to reprimands.

In no time you’ll have a healthy and happy trained cat. And once that goal is achieved, your cat can start training you.

Before training your cat you should consult a veterinarian or a professional trainer.

 

 

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