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Can You Teach a Cat New Tricks? How to Train Your Cat

5 Jul 2024.

A common misconception about cats is that it’s not possible to train them. After all, our furry friends did domesticate themselves and, unlike dogs, aren’t as eager to please their humans. While Mr Whiskers may be more independent and have a mind of their own, it is possible to train your cat to do tricks. Not sure how? Cat in a Flat shows you the basics of training your cat—from the simple ‘sit’ to the more complex ‘fetch’—while forming a stronger bond with your fur friend too! 

Can I train my cat? 

Can I train my cat? Yes, you can! Because felines are less concerned with pleasing their owners, teaching them commands or tricks can pose its own set of challenges. However, one surprising fact about cats it that it is doable. Success with training simply depends on taking the right approach. Patience and consistency are absolutely key. You can’t sporadically train your kitty; daily training time is essential. But, once you find the right way to motivate your fur friend, you’ll be surprised at all the tricks they’ll be able to learn! 

How to train your cat

Find the right motivation

Most cats will only do something if they get something in return (or they choose to). This means you must try to find the right motivation for your kitty. Treats, playing with your cat, or spending time cuddling are all great rewards that most felines will love. To help Mr Whiskers stay motivated, keep training sessions short. Cats have limited attention spans, so aim for just a few minutes per session. Several short training sessions throughout the day are better than one long one. 

Use positive reinforcement

Felines don’t react well to any sort of punishment, so using positive reinforcement is key—whether you’re trying to train your cat to stop scratching the furniture or to come when you call. Whenever Mr Whiskers does something right, reward them with praise and a treat. While it can be difficult, you should react to bad behaviour by ignoring it or redirecting your kitty’s attention. Avoid punishment as this will only serve to make your furry friend anxious or afraid of you. 

Start with easy commands

Don’t try to teach Mr Whiskers complicated tricks right away. Start with something small, such as training your cat to sit. You can do this by waiting for your kitty to sit on their own. When they do, say the command ‘sit’, then reward them immediately with a treat. Repeat this often until your kitty learns to sit when you give the command. 

Another simple trick is teaching your cat to come when you call. Simply call your kitty’s name and give them a treat when they respond and come to you. Over time, your furry friend will learn to respond any time you call them. 

Use clicker training

Clickers are small devices that emit a clicking sound. These can be a very useful to train your cat with. Every time your fur friend does something right or obeys your command, click and give them a treat. Eventually Mr Whiskers will associate the clicking sound with a reward. This motivates and reinforces positive behaviour. 

Train away bad behaviour

One of the most common problems paw parents face is their kitty scratching things they shouldn’t. Scratching is both physically and emotionally healthy for your cat, but not so great for your furniture! To train away bad behaviour like this, you need to redirect your feline’s attention, then reward them when they respond with good behaviour. For example, if Mr Whiskers tends to scratch your sofa, place a scratching post or tree near the problem spot. Every time your cat uses the scratching post give them a treat. This will teach them to scratch in the right spots. 

Pawsome training tip: Your kitty’s training needn’t be put on hold whenever you’re out of town. Our knowledgeable and trustworthy cat sitters are often more than happy to help keep your cat’s training consistent when you’re away! When you book a cat sitter, ask if they’d be willing to include a few minutes of training during their daily visits. If the answer is yes, you can walk them through a typical session with your fur friend by video or during the meet and greet. 

What’s the best way to train your cat for the first time?

What’s the best way to train your cat for the first time? Choosing the right time of day and consistently training your cat is one of the first steps to teaching them tricks. Be prepared with treats and remember that patience is key! If your kitty doesn’t get it the first time, that’s okay. Keep trying with short, consistent daily training sessions and over time Mr Whiskers will learn. Here are a few tips on approaching your first training session with your cat: 

  • Choose a quiet place. Find a quiet room in your home, free from distractions such as other pets or loud noises. A quiet space will help your feline concentrate better.
  • Choose the right time. Cats sleep a lot, and you don’t want to attempt to train your kitty when they’re sleepy or groggy. Choose a time when Mr Whiskers is awake and alert and avoid trying to train your cat right after you feed them.
  • Prepare rewards for your cat. You know best what your kitty loves, so make sure to stock up on a selection of tasty treats for them. Keep in mind that food treats aren’t the only way to reward your fur friend. Playing with their favourite toy or dedicated cuddle time are great rewards too.
  • Choose simple tricks. For the first training session focus on simple commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘come’. These will be easier for your cat to understand and provide a good starting point for training them to do more complex tricks. 
  • Be patient. Stay calm and patient during your short training sessions. Always speak to Mr Whiskers in a soft, friendly voice. Don’t get frustrated if your kitty doesn’t pick up on tricks right away. Patience is crucial when training cats! 
  • Use positive reinforcement. As mentioned above, only use positive reinforcement to train your cat. Praise your kitty and reward them immediately when they perform the desired behaviour. 
  • Repetition and practice. In your first training session you’ll want to repeat the exercise more than once. Start by luring your cat with a treat, then giving the command ‘sit’. When your cat responds, praise them and give them a reward. Do this multiple times per session—but remember to keep it short, just a few minutes will do! 
  • End on a positive note. Always end each training session on a positive note. Praise your cat profusely and give them a final reward before concluding the training. 

15 fun commands to teach your cat

Here are a few fun commands to teach your kitty: 

  1. Sit: The feline sits down on command
  2. Come: The kitty comes when you call
  3. Shake: The cat gives you their paw on command.
  4. High five: Mr Whiskers gives a ‘high five’ with their paw.
  5. Spin: The kitty turns in a circle.
  6. Jump: The feline jumps over an obstacle or object. 
  7. Stay: Your furry friend stays in one place until you call.
  8. Roll: Mr Whiskers rolls over on command.
  9. Fetch: You throw an object and your fur friend brings it back to you.
  10. Lay on its back: Cats sometimes lie on their backs on their own, but you can also teach your feline to do it on command! 
  11. Cat tunnel: The kitty runs through a tunnel on command.
  12. Balance: Mr Whiskers balances on an object (such as a ball).
  13. Hide: The feline hides in a specific spot on command.
  14. Walk on a leash: You can train your fur friend to walk on a leash. 
  15. Water training: Most kitties don’t like water, but if your cat doesn’t mind getting wet you can train them to get used to water and even learn how to swim.

Training can be fun for both you and your cat! Not only will it help develop your fur friend’s mental abilities, but it’s also a great opportunity to build a deeper bond with them. Want to know more about bonding with your feline? Check out our blog posts on how to know if your cat loves you and signs your kitty is happy

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