I have experience working with cats and have researched the best ways to train them.
Why Cat Obedience Training?
Cats are often underestimated when it comes to behavior, simply because the average owner has very little need to attempt any sort of training at all.
Unlike with dogs (obedience training for dogs is well documented), there’s no need to train cats in the basics of pet protocol like house training and bathing.
Consequently, only a few people are aware of their cat’s abilities in this area. Using cat obedience training is a great way to enrich your cat's life.
Pros of Cat Obedience Training
- It builds a strong bond between you and your cat—Because training makes your cat understand who is in charge. (He has to do what you want in order to get what he wants.)
- It keeps your cat’s mind active and stimulated.
- It teaches your cat good social behavioral skills.
- Anxious and nervous cats are reassured and calmed down by the repetition and routine of training.
So how do I train my cat? Target training and clicker training are two common methods. Here is a brief summary of each:
- Target training is where you attract your cat’s attention and then obtain desired behaviors through the use of a designated tool. For example, during the ‘beg’ command, a particular target training tool called a training wand is used to attract the cat’s attention upwards and to encourage the cat to rise up on his haunches and ‘beg.’
- Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning (which is where the animal is taught to form a conscious association between a specific behavior and a result.) The trainer uses a small mechanical noise-maker (the ‘clicker’) to create a short, distinct noise. The clicker is clicked at the precise moment that the cat performs the desired behavior—for example, during ‘sit,’ the clicker is clicked at the very instant that the cat’s bottom touches the ground. Directly after the click, the cat is fed a small and tasty treat. With repetition, the cat grows to associate the click with the food and recognizes his own ability to earn treats by performing the desired action on command.
- Remember to be patient. Your cat is unique, with his own abilities and preferences. He will learn some tricks quickly but may struggle with others. Consider the appropriate obedience training for his personality, and don’t lose your temper if it doesn’t go exactly according to schedule.
- Stop free-feeding. If you’re free-feeding your cat (leaving food out at all times for him to eat as and when he feels like it), stop doing this. Enforcing a feeding schedule has two main benefits: It increases the reward-value of food treats as training devices and also introduces a semblance of routine into your cat’s life (which, believe it or not, most cats actually prefer.)
- Train smart. If you’re using food treats (which is highly recommended), then schedule training sessions for just before mealtimes: your cat’s natural desire for food at his regular mealtime will sharpen his focus and increase his desire to obey you.
- Take baby steps. When training your cat, it’s best to build up a solid foundation of the basics before attempting to expand his repertoire. Cats have pretty short attention spans, and they can be bored easily. Keep the training sessions short and interesting—and always try to end on a positive note.
- Be smart when using a clicker. If clicker training, be sure to associate the clicking with the same behavior so as not to confuse the cat. Without the clicker, it’s too easy for the cat to form associations between the treat and a completely unrelated behavior (since it’s impossible to feed the cat a treat at the precise moment that he’s performing a trick).
Most Common Cat Behavioral Problems
Most people think that cats don't pay much attention to their owner . . . provided they have clean litter, water, and food. Cats can behave in strange at times, which can easily confuse their owners and make it really hard to figure out what their cat wants. As much as cat behavior can be confusing, there are some ways that you can solve common cat behavior problems.
They Are Territorial
Almost all cats brush their heads on any type of object that will allow them to do it. You have probably seen your cat do this before, probably against table legs or TV stands. This can be noticed more when you have other people who own animals or those with allergies over at your house. When a cat notices this, he will rub his head against the person.
By putting his saliva on something, that being either an object or a person, it will have a familiar odor. Although this can be very annoying, you have to understand that other people in your home are seen as strangers to your cat. When a cat does this, he is simply trying to make the visitor belong. When he brushes up against them and puts his saliva on them, he is trying to put his scent on them, which in his mind means that they a part of his territory. Even though marking someone or something with saliva is beneficial to the cat, saliva is one of the most common forms of pet allergies. When someone wipes the saliva off of them, the scent will be gone, and the cat will go back and attempt to do it again.
They Won't Leave Visitors Alone
Even though it may appear that cats target those with allergies, cats are actually just trying to make the visitor belong at the house. If the guest simply cannot take the saliva, allow the cat to rub himself on their pants leg a few times. Normally, this is all it takes for a cat to leave the person alone.
They Are Natural Hunters
Those of you who an indoor cat should expect the cat to spend quite a bit of time lying near windows. During this time, you may hear your cat make very strange noises or weird movements. But there's no need to worry; whether it's another cat or object outside moving about, the cat will see it and simply go into his natural hunting instinct.
As most people already know, cats love to play. They will pounce on things. If you try to prevent this type of behavior, your cat will take a very negative approach, and you'll end up with a lot of broken things in your home. You can always play with your cat using a string, as he will love to chase the string around the room.
Understanding Your Cat's Behavior
The longer you own your cat, the more odd behavior you will see him display. Cats behave in strange ways, although they always have a reason for behaving the way they do. If you can understand why your cat behaves as he does, you will have no problems keeping your cat healthy and happy. If you simply pay attention to your cat and the way he behaves at times, you will be able to understand him better.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Jeff on November 15, 2019:
I have a 6 month old cat he is so silly and sweet.But he climbs everything,mutilates rolls of toilet paper.And climbs on top of the Guinea pig cage and trys to climb up to the parakeet cage.I'm not interested in teaching him tricks.I just want him to stop his nonsense.No more harassing of my other pets.What in the world can/should i do
Mom4threecats on October 25, 2019:
My one cat knows how to use the litter (he’s 3) but since he was a kitten he will periodically tag fabric or yarn with pee. But he’s so loving towards us. Most recently he peed in a fabric container with 15 balls of yarn and a contractors drop cloth. I am not appreciating this at all. Help!
Linda on July 20, 2019:
how can I keep my cat off my plant table? He does not destroy my plants.
Mspears on September 15, 2017:
My cat is 2 years old and for some reason has started to pee on the floor and not in her litter box. I dont understand why, i keep it clean and she has never done this before. If any one has answers it would be much appreciated!?
cynthia clements on April 03, 2014:
My cat bites me and scratching me