Cat Obedience Training 101

When you think about cats, the image of a solitary animal who does whatever it wants comes to mind. And while it is true that most cats are independent creatures that can range from nuzzling, aloof to ornery, they also can be trained to do the things you need or want them to do.

Can you train a cat like a dog? Recent scientific studies have shown that cats are as cognitively aware as dogs and can respond to both their names being called and their owners pointing at objects. Studies have shown that nearly 70 percent of cats will follow the gaze of a human as it stares at an object, on par with dogs.

So, while cats can be trained, they often lack the desire. You’ll have to work at getting your furry friend to learn new habits, but it can be done. Cats have short attention spans, so your training sessions shouldn’t last any longer than five minutes.

woman is feeding ginger cat, cat eats from female hands. Feeding cat with delicious cat food

bvUse this guide to find out more about cat obedience training:

How To Get a Cat To Sit

They key to all these cat obedience goals is to have some treats and a clicker handy. For sitting, you want to make sure you are on the cat’s level with a treat handy. Decide on what hand gesture you will use to represent “sit” and keep using that going forward.

As you make the gesture, lift your hand above the cat’s head with the treat. As soon as the cat sits, say “sit” and offer the treat. Your cat will come to associate sitting with receiving a treat. You can also use the clicker as soon as the cat sits and offer the treat.

How To Get a Cat To Come to You

The same principles apply to getting your cat’s attention. Cats clearly respond to food and you’ll likely notice they come quickly when they think they hear the food bag being opened. Use that instinct to your advantage.

Decide what greeting you will use to call your cat, whether it’s their name or some other salutation. Stand next to your cat and call them. Immediately crinkle a bag and offer a treat. When your cat makes the connection between the bag sound and a reward, you can start calling them from greater distances.

How To Train a Cat Not To Do Something

While you may be focused on getting your cat to do certain tasks, it’s equally important to help them learn NOT to do other things. This is a tricky balancing act, because cats respond to whatever attention you give them, whether it is positive or negative. If your cat does something wrong, do not respond harshly. Punishment often makes cats run and hide. If that becomes the norm, other bad behaviors may develop.

The best way to prevent your cat from getting into trouble is to associate the negative behavior with something the cat does not like. Most cats do not like strong perfume smells or citrus flavors. Placing cotton balls soaked in those scents in areas that are off-limits will deter your cat from entering.

Other dos and don’ts include:

  • Don’t use a spray bottle: Some people suggest that a quick spritz of water will deter your cat from bad behavior, but they simply are running from getting sprayed.
  • Do make changes: If your cat is scratching or not using the litter box properly, consider investing in a scratching post or moving the box somewhere more comfortable for your pet.
  • Do consider their health: Bad behaviors could also be a sign of underlying health issues. If your cat starts acting out, consider checking in with your vet for advice.
  • Don’t let bad play slide: You may think it’s cute if your cat nibbles on your finger but allowing them to do that lets them know it is OK to do so in any situation. Stop them early and help them understand biting is not allowed.

How Many Words Can a Cat Learn?

Research says that cats can understand anywhere from 25-35 words.

How To Teach Your Cat to High Five

We all know that dogs are good at doing handshakes, but you can teach your cat do high fives in some simple steps. First, grab a bunch of treats and put one in your closed hand near the floor. When the cat touches your paw, respond positively, and reward them.

Keep doing the same while slowly raising your hand. Then place your open hand flat with no treat. If your cat touches it, reward them. Next, try to have the cat touch your hand with the palm facing out. Continue to raise the height, rewarding them at each successful touch. Once the cat has become comfortable with the action, you can now say “High five!” at the time of the touch and reward them.

Some other fun tricks to teach your cat include ringing a bell, jumping through arm hoops and even using the toilet!

Remember to keep your cat healthy and happy through regular check-ins with its knowledgeable local vet, who also may have some tips for working with your cat.