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We all know that dogs can be taught to obey basic commands, but what about your cat? Cats are more independent and less social than dogs, so they don’t desire praise in the same way dogs do. But as you already know, cats are highly intelligent animals, and they have the ability to learn a variety of behaviors and tricks.


Tips For Teaching Your Kitten

Tip #1:  When to train

Keep training sessions short! Kittens and cats have short attention spans and can get bored fast. Focus on one command at a time, and once mastered, move on to the next. Practice the commands in lots of different places around the house so that she gets used to responding to you in all sorts of situations.

It’s important to begin training your kitten as soon as possible so she’ll be able to grow up to learn and respect the boundaries of your home. You don’t want your cat to be digging in the trash, tearing up your furniture or constantly jumping up on your counter. Kitten training will help keep her mind and body active, teach her good social skills and behaviors, and strengthen her bond with you.


Tip #2:  How to Train

If you’re lucky, your cat will be willing and eager to learn your commands. However, there’s a chance she’ll ignore you. Every cat is different, and training can be extremely trying on your patience. Make sure to carve out small amounts of time each day to spend working with her. If you have other cats in your home, remember that they each have different personalities and have to be taught differently.


Be aware that cats do not understand or respond well to punishment. Punishment will often cause your cat to run away and hide from you, and can lead to stress, which can also breed behavioral and health problems. Encouraging good behavior with a reward is much more effective, and that reward can come in the form of praise and/or a tasty treat. Have plenty of toys at her disposal. If she starts doing something she’s not supposed to, redirect her attention to the toys. Provide them to her as a reward for avoiding bad behaviors. Having toys to play with will keep your kitten mentally and physically occupied. You can also sprinkle them with catnip to further entice her to play.  This reward-based training teaches your cat to associate good behavior with positive results.


One of the most common cat training techniques is clicker training, which is another form of reward-based training. For instance, if you’d like to teach your cat to sit, click the clicker as soon as she sits down and give her a small treat. Eventually, with enough repetition, she will learn to associate the click with the behavior and the reward. You can use the clicker technique to help with other aspects of your kitten's training, such as encouraging her to stand still for grooming and getting her used to traveling by car.  Please check Karen Pryor's website for tips.

Tip #3:  How to Address Bad Behavior in Your Cat

There are several common cat behavior issues that can be helped or avoided through training, saving you a world of headaches and keeping you in tune with your cat’s needs.  These can include:  Furniture scratching, Avoiding the litterbox, Aggression to other pets or peaople, Stress, Fear or Anxiety, and Compulsive behaviours such as over-grooming and biting.


There could be several reasons why your cat is acting out—she might be stressed over a new change in your home, she might have a medical condition or she simply may not understand that her behavior is wrong. While you may think that your cat is misbehaving because she’s upset or spiteful toward you, this is usually not the case.


Redirecting the behavior instead of punishing her for it is more likely to put her back on track. By punishing her, she may feel threatened by you, which can ultimately lead to even more stress and bad habits. If she is fearful of you, this will also damage your bond with one another. However, she should be made aware of unwanted behaviors. One way of doing this is by connecting bad behaviors with something unpleasant. For instance, cats are averse to certain scents like perfume and citrus. You can soak cotton balls in these scents to keep your cat away from places you don’t want her to go. Always remember to praise your cat for good behaviors as well. Give her a treat for a job well done, and she will learn to associate her actions with her rewards.