How To Train Cats
Learning how to train cats is not all that different from training dogs, with one caveat: you have to train cats on their terms. The easiest way to train cats is to work with those who prefer the company of humans, which might be difficult to arrange. But, with a few tricks, some tasty treats and a clicker trainer, you can become a cat trainer.
To train cats, you will need:
- A clicker
- High value treats
- Gather the necessary materials. You can purchase a small clicker at your local pet store. As for treats, a high value treat is a treat that a cat will go crazy over. For some cats, a high value treat might be a quick romp with a catnip-filled toy. Other cats may be more food-oriented, so experiment with especially smelly tuna or liver treats.
- The key to training cats is to observe your cat and see what actions he naturally does. If he lifts his paw to swat at a feather, you can probably train your cat to do a "high five" on command. If your cat naturally twists to the left when you pet him, you've got a cat who will "twist" on command one day.
- Place ten treats in your pocket and get your clicker. Get your cat's attention, click the clicker and immediately give the cat a treat. Do this ten times in a row. This is called loading the clicker and it's training the cat that a click means a reward will follow. Do this just once a day for three days in a row.
- Once your cat is accustomed to the clicker and reward system, wait for him to offer a behavior, then click and reward. Grab that feather and get the cat to swat. The minute he swats, click and reward. Continue to do this and you will see him offer the behavior and look at you expectantly. He's figuring out that a swat with his paw means he'll get a reward.
- Once the cat is routinely offering you the behavior, give the behavior a command. Do not try to teach a cat the command before he is reliably offering the behavior, as it will only get you a perplexed look. When he sees the feather and swats reliably, click the clicker, give the command "swat" and pop in a treat. Eventually, he will respond to "high five" on command.
- Once the cat is trained to one command, you can fade the treats by offering one every other time he does the trick. If, however, you find that the cat is lagging in interest without the treats, treat more often and try to fade the treat at a later point.
Practice patience when training a cat, as they are not as interested in pleasing you as much as your dog is. Do not punish a cat for not offering you a behavior you think he knows.