Training your cat can be both really helpful and really really entertaining. From teaching Kitty Cat Stevens to use the scratching post instead of your couch, to choreographing a dance routine with Paw-la Abdul, teaching your feline friend cat tricks is absolutely possible and made easy with these tips. So grab a bunch of your cat’s favorite treats and let’s get started!
#1 Treats, Please!
Before you as the cat parent start playing with all the practical, creative, and fun tricks you can teach to your feline, she first needs to know what she gets out of it — treats! Using a clicker or other quick, little sound maker, teach her that when she hears that sound, she gets her favorite treat. Practice this multiple times with her. *Click*, treat. *Click*, treat. *Click*, treat. This introduction will let her know training time is a fun time and the *click* leads to good things!
***Master Note: Keep the treats big enough to keep your kitty interested, but small enough so that you can continue practicing throughout the lesson without your little lion becoming too full on its cat diet. Also, if you are wondering “What to give my cat for allergies?”, we have you covered!
#2 Start Smol
- Once your cat has enjoyed the freebies and understands that a treat will follow the *click*, it’s time to start with a simple action. Think about the final cat trick you want to teach her and then break down all the different actions into an easy trick that needs to take place for the trick you have in your mind to happen. Then, start at the very first one.
For example, let’s say you want to teach your little friend the house cat to not be such a scaredy cat about her pet carrier, and let’s say you want to accomplish that by training her to follow your finger. You could start by first teaching your kitty to boop her nose on your fingertip. To do that, you could put your finger close to her nose and every time she touches your fingertip, *click* and treat the good cat’s behavior.
- After she’s got the hang of the first step, start to work on the second step. Continuing with the example of teaching her to follow your finger, the next step would be to hold your finger a little farther away, and continue to *click* and reward each time she touches your fingertip. Soon the game should evolve so that she’ll eventually follow your finger into her pet carrier with much improved ease! (And when this glorious day comes, give her extra morsels of treats to let her know this is the sweet spot!)
***Master Note: As your cat begins to recognize the *click* as a positive sound, you can start to wean away from using treats every time you practice trick training for reinforcement.
#3 One Trick at a Time
To give your furry student the best chance at success, focus on mastering one trick at a time so that she stays focused and doesn’t confuse different directives. Basically, before you move on to teaching her how to kiss your cheek, make sure she’s solid on the fist bump first.
#4 Keep it Short and Consistent
Your cat’s attention span (might be) shorter than yours and you don’t want her to give up! Try to keep your training lessons to about 10-15 minutes each day, and train as consistently as possible. The repetition will help create patterns in your cat’s brain and will make it easier for her to continue learning new and more complicated tricks—much like how we humans learn new habits and tricks ourselves!
#5 Stay Paws-itive!
Cats respond to rewards excellently but don’t understand punishment, so when teaching tricks to your whiskered BFF, positive reinforcement is definitely the way to go! Just like figuring out the answer to do cats need baths, always stay calm, and keep the lessons fun and focused. This is a great time to bond with your kitty while stimulating her mind and working together!
***Master Note: If you ever need to discourage some naughty behavior (like climbing too close to the fish bowl), make a short, sharp noise like “blam!” or “pow!” to take her attention away from the action she’s in the middle of. BUT, avoid using words, especially ones you use often, like “hey” or “no”, so that she doesn’t get confused when you use those words in your everyday life.
Using these tips, your kitty will be walking on a leash, giving you high-5’s, rolling over, staying off the kitchen counter, and whatever else you can think to train her to do in no time! You are now a cat lover turned animal trainer with all these new cat training tips!
Pro tip to clear up time for training: Switch to PrettyLitter and see how easy (and breezy) litter box business can be! PrettyLitter’s crystals soak up liquids and odors with speed and grace, so all you have to do is scoop the poop and stir the rest. Why not try it today and see what cats and cat parents love about this litter?