ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS   Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
puppy and kitten
Cat Training Basics
by  David Beart  


Before you train your cat, you will need to know about a cat. If you want to train your cat to
sit, beg, and roll over, you should probably switch for a dog. In most cases, a cat is designed
much differently than a dog in psychology and behavior. This is why some people either love
cats or dislike cats; it is usually one or the other.

When it comes to training cats, we just want them to do the basics. These types of things
would be to use the litter box rather than on the floor in the closet. Another of these items
would be to not shred everything they come in contact with; this would include, but not be
limited too couches and mattresses.

How Do Cats Learn?

Cats, obviously, are not humans. They do not think like us, nor do they learn like us. If a cat
cannot pick up a book, watch a video or be told what to do, how do they learn? In fact, cats
learn by experience. For example, if a cat jumps up on a hot stove, which I hope would not
happen, would in turn burn their paws and not do it again. They have leaned that the area
they came in contact too was hot and caused pain.

If a cat does something obnoxious or wrong, and they get rewarded, they will continue to do
it. In this case, they have learned that by doing something, they get a certain reaction. In most
cases we do not even realize we are rewarding our cat. This is why the cycle of “bad” behavior
still continues and does not go away.

In all, you can say cats are conditioned to behave the way they do. They all have their unique
personalities, as do all animals; however, their behavior is molded by the way we respond to
them.

Why Discipline Does Not Work

Yes, you read that right; disciplining your cat does not work. If this is what you have been
doing, you will see that this statement is correct. Most people are under the notion that you
need to catch the cat in the act so you can immediately reprimand that cat for doing wrong.
This, in fact, is not correct.

When you choose to discipline your cat, you are only showing them two things. One, when you
reach for them, it is a bad thing; and two, whatever you are showing them, whether it be the
litter box or object, is bad. These are both concepts that will not make the situation better, but
sometimes can make it worse. Moreover, when you catch your cat “in the act”, you will see
that he or she only misbehaves when you are not around. On the other hand, if you discipline
your cat after the offense, they will not associate the incident with the punishment. Remember,
cats do not speak English!

Get Your Cat Out of Bad Habits

In general, a kitten is going to be easier to train; this is just a cat training basics fact. This
comes from the idea that a grown cat is already set in their ways. They have been conditioned
to do things a certain way for a longer period of time. Naturally, cats do not deviate from their
usual way of doing things. They are creatures of habit. So, a kitten has not been conditioned
and is very impressionable.

If you have a grown cat, do not get discouraged. They can be trained as well; it just might
take a little extra effort. This leads to the first cat training basics point: remain calm and
patient with your cat during training. Training a cat takes time, patience and dedication. Just
remember, it is worth it in the long run. If trained properly, you will see the results last for a
lifetime; not just for a day.

3 Steps to Any Training’s Success

There are three main steps to create a successful training attempt that is a win- win situation
for both you and your cat.

1. No matter what your cat decides to do, even if it gets on your last nerve, do not punish
them. Remember, reprimanding your cat will never get you the results you are seeking. All it
will get is a “delinquent” cat and one that is afraid of you.

When broken down, this might very well be the problem as well. Take the time to play with the
cat and make sure they are not doing these bad behaviors for attention. You will know this is
the case if you up the play time and offer them more toys and things to keep them busy. Just
about half of the time, this will solve the problem.

2. Do your best to make sure your cat is set up for success. You want your cat to succeed at
the training; therefore, you need to make sure you give them all the tools and encouragement
to succeed.

Shedding more light on this concept; make sure you control the environment. If you are looking
to litter train your cat, have them on a regular feeding schedule. By doing this, you will know
about when they will need to relieve themselves. About ten to fifteen minutes before the
scheduled time, take them to the litter box. Put it in a room where it is just you, them and the
box. They will use the box, and when they do, praise them.

3. Make sure the experience is not a rewarding one. Everyone and every animal, including
cats, as something they do not like. You need to find out what your cat does not like. For many
cats, tape, netting, aluminum, and sometimes scents can deter them. Cats generally do not
like sticky or noisy things. They also do not like getting their claws stuck onto items.

In general, the cat training basics listed above are a solid plan for success. They can be
applied to any training you decide to go through with your cat. Always keep in mind to stick
with the three steps!

David Beart is the owner of
PetYak. Our site covers pet related issues from cat information to
dog trivia and health issues.
Pet Behaviour Articles - Feline Behaviour