It’s possible to teach them useful behaviors in addition to novelty tricks. You can also train them to compete in agility tournaments.
You will find several differences between the way cats and dogs have been trained, naturally. Cats aren’t as likely to be inspired by praise as puppies. But that doesn’t mean they’re not superstars in waiting. With the right methods — and a bit of creativity on your part — your cat will amaze you with the things he can learn.
Cats should only be educated new behaviors with positive, reward-based training. Punishment and dominance aren’t healthy methods, nor are they effective. “Punishment creates stress, and stress is one of the most frequent causes for problem behaviours in cats, including eliminating outside the litter box and compulsive grooming,” states the ASPCA website. So with this in mind, here are some steps to get you started:
1. The best reinforcements you can use are treats — but not just any treats. “My foster cats love to train ,” states Jane Harrell, Petfinder’s senior manufacturer and long-time cat foster mom. “But they will not work for anything. And Jane’s fosters are not alone. Many cats need something special to inspire them. This means you ought to throw the kibble back in your cat food bin and look through your cupboards to the fantastic stuff that your cat enjoys. Diced chicken or turkey, low-sodium tuna, meat-flavored infant food and commercial cat treats could be effective, based upon your cat’s personal tastes.
2. Get your cat used to getting rewards in reaction to certain behaviors. Start with a very simple trick to show your cat that great things happen during your coaching sessions.
3. Practice, practice, practice… but not overly much. Repeat this training procedure several times in a row so that your cat learns why he’s getting rewarded.
You do not wish to wear out your cat or bore him, but you do want to push home the relationship between a specific reward and behavior — and the control associated with that behavior. You may, however, would like to replicate the regular again the next day and keep it on a regular basis so that your cat does not forget what he’s learned.
4. Try with a clicker to fortify time and — eventually — cut down treats.
It is important for the cat to be rewarded when she performs the desired action, but it can be difficult for many people to time their benefits precisely using their cat’s behavior. A clicker can assist with timing by introducing a noise that tells the cat that what they simply did was great. Following a few times your kitty will learn the clicker sound means great things are coming and, eventually, the clicker can be its own reward. At this point you have a help for perfecting the timing of a reward.
5. Once your cat has fully mastered his first suggestion, proceed to others. But feel free to get creative. You may also want to think about teaching your cat practical behaviors such as how to walk on a leash.
If you are committed to teaching your cat tricks but are having difficulty with the process, get in touch with a trainer in your area. Be absolutely confident that he or she has experience in working with cats. Also be certain that anyone you hire shares your belief in positive reinforcement.