Is learning how to train a cat possible? Yes, it is! Learning how to train a cat to come, use their pan, or stop clawing the furniture is much easier than you think, if you use the right techniques. Training a cat is obviously much different than training a dog. What works for dogs probably won’t work for your feline. In this guide, I’ll go over some effective techniques you can try, that will help you set some boundaries with your feline and teach them what behaviors are appropriate and which ones aren’t.
Table of Contents
- What Are You Training Your Feline For?
- Keep Training Sessions Short and Sweet
- How Soon Can I Start Training?
- Disciplining Your Feline
- Training Tools
- Training a Cat to Use a Litter Box
- How to Train a Cat to use a Water Fountain
- How to Train Your Cat to Use a Cat Tree Scratching Post
- Leash Training
- Final Thoughts
What Are You Training Your Feline For?
What do you want your cat to learn? Do you want to train your cat to correct an unwanted behavior such as clawing the furniture or eliminating outside the litter box? Once you have decided what you want to work on, you can research effective techniques to use based on your cat’s age, whether they’re the only feline in the home, or if you have a multi-cat household. In most cases, using a clicker and treats to reward your pet will be the most constructive method.
Keep Training Sessions Short and Sweet
Make sure you keep the cat training process short; this will make it easier for your feline to learn and stay focused. If you have other cats or dogs in the home, make sure you keep them out of the room.
You can make the process longer or even shorter, based on your cat’s mood, response to the training and how willing they are to learn. Give your feline plenty of breaks and rewards during the process. If your feline has lost interest and is not paying attention to a command, then stop, offer them a reward for tolerating the training and try to train them again later in the day. Make sure you choose the right time for training, such as their usual wake time. You don’t want to attempt working with your feline first thing in the morning, when they’re sleepy or exhausted from playing all night. This can cause unwanted behavior changes in your pet and may make them more difficult to train. Timing is everything.
Training should last no more than ten to fifteen minutes. Any longer and you may just end up frustrating and stressing them out. Offering a reward is one of the best tricks pet trainers swear by. Make sure you consistently offer a reward using their favorite treats when they respond positively to a command.
How Soon Can I Start Training?
It is possible to start teaching your feline too soon. You don’t want to train a kitten under eight weeks or age. If you try to train a feline too early, it can be a very frustrating experience for both of you. Common problems that can arise when you start teaching a feline too early can include:
- Inappropriate elimination
- Aggressive behavior
- Lack of appetite
If your cat is too small or is having trouble with training at eight to twelve weeks, wait a couple of weeks before trying again. During a session, say positive, encouraging words to your kitty. This is a constructive and healthy way to train your pet. You can say words such as good job, good girl/boy, etc.
Disciplining Your Feline
There are many positive tricks you can use during the process when you’re teaching your cat a new command. The goal is to keep the experience constructive. This will start the training on the right foot and encourage your cat to stick with it. Never say mean or negative words to your feline. Avoid physically punishing your cat or yelling at them for bad behavior, such as clawing the furniture or eliminating outside the litter box. Cats are very sensitive. Disciplining your kitty can lead to health and behavioral problems. It can also really stress your feline out.
Using tricks such as rewarding your cat for their good behavior by offering them a treat, can help boost their confidence and encourage the right behaviors. How you reward or discipline a cat is your call, but a negative approach can make it difficult to train your cat in the future, especially if they repeat the same mistakes and refuse to join you once they realize you’re about to start a cat training session. The goal is to teach your cat what behaviors are good, and which ones are not okay. Positivity can go a long way here. Let your feline learn at their own pace. Otherwise, you could end up with a stubborn feline on your hands.
If you want to be prepared for training, the first step is purchasing a click tool. Do you already know how to train a cat with a clicker? Clicker training is a positive reinforcement technique that focuses on rewarding good behavior. This cat training technique involves offering a cat their favorite treat following a click to point out the desired behavior. You could also use this cat click training tactic when giving your cat a pill, walking them on a leash, or getting them to do a fun trick.
Why Clickers Work
If you don’t use a clicker, a feline may become confused as to why they’re being rewarded. If a feline obeys a command, then hears a click, then receives a treat, they will catch on faster. If you repeat this technique often, you’ll find that you don’t even need to call your feline, they’ll simply come running when they hear the clicking noise. If your cat takes to this technique, they’ll be eager to join in on the fun, so it’ll be much easier to teach them basic commands. They will soon recognize the sound of the clicker as their cue to perform an action, such as come, sit, roll over, or it can encourage an action such as using their cat tree or tolerating wearing a leash. Basically, this type of audible cue can prevent confusion and will make it easier for a cat to learn.
Training a Cat to Use a Litter Box
If you’ve brought home a new friend and noticed they are inappropriately eliminating outside of their pan, then you need to nip this problem in the bud right away and come up with a good system and plenty of rewards. Figuring out how to train a cat to use a litter box can take some work. This process is very important and one that will leave your home looking cleaner and smell fresher if you’re consistent. During the training period, accidents may happen. A new pan or a new environment can take some getting used to. If your pet has an accident, it’s important to not punish him or her, since this may prolong the behavior.
The Right Setup
To do, you’ll begin by placing your cat’s pan in a secluded area. A feline is a very private animal and tends to be picky about where they go to the bathroom. Find a spot that’s away from all the noise and commotion in the home and avoid placing it in the same room as noisy appliances, such as the kitchen or laundry room.
Make sure you use a basic litter, one that doesn’t have a strong smell. Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell and some will refuse to use their pan if there’s a strong odor.
Give your feline plenty of privacy. Make sure you scoop out their pan one to two times a day and keep it as clean as possible. A cat can be very sensitive about using a pan if they place their paw in it and it’s dirty and/or wet. Cleaning it out often will encourage your pet to use it more often.
Familiarizing your pet with the location of their pan is important. If you’ve just brought a cat or kitten home, I recommend confining them to a small room in the home for the first week. Make sure your feline knows where their new pan is and make sure it’s easy for them to reach. You can place one paw in the pan, to show them it’s clean and dry. Your cat may even learn to come out when they hear you cleaning the pan.
If you’ve brought a new cat home, introduce them to their pan right away. You can either place a paw inside the pan or pick up the feline and palace them inside. As I mentioned earlier, cats are very private animals, so give them some privacy and don’t stand over them while they’re in their pan. Even the most stubborn feline will eventually come around, especially if the pan is kept clean.
In most cases, by following this method, you should have your cat trained in a matter of days.
If you’re dealing with an older feline who is inappropriately eliminating around their home, a trip to the vet is recommended, to rule out any health-related conditions that can cause this behavior. Once they’ve been cleared by their vet and a health issue is ruled out, you may need to assess the home and their setup to determine what the problem is.
If you have more than one cat in the home, you may think they’ll share the same pan, with no problems. However, most felines do not enjoy using the same toilet as another animal. In fact, if you have more than one cat in the home, the general rule is to have one pan per cat, plus one.
If your cat has repeatedly had accidents, adding another pan to the home can solve this problem.
You may simply need to clean out the box more often, change the location, use a scent-free litter, or purchase a larger litter box. With these changes, your cat will learn to consistently use their pan.
How to Train a Cat to use a Water Fountain
Cats don’t usually drink enough. If you feed your feline wet cat food, then this won’t be a big issue, since they can get most of their hydration from their food. But if you normally feed your cat dry kibble and you’re concerned they may be dehydrated, then you need to find a way to encourage your cat to drink more. Cats love fresh, clean, running water. Buying the best cat water fountain can be the perfect solution. Many cats go crazy over the sound of running water, which makes these fountains very appealing.
These fountains constantly circulate the water, so it doesn’t get stale and it always tastes fresh.
However, if you have a stubborn cat, teaching them how to use the fountain can require several sessions. Teaching kittens to use a fountain can also be difficult, especially if you’re having trouble getting them to stay in the area and pay attention. However, because kittens tend to be so curious, the sound of running water may help to keep them focused.
- To begin, first, relocate your cat’s old source of water, placing it close to the fountain. Make sure the fountain is off. The fountain should have water in it, so that your feline can get used to the idea of it being their water source.
- Next, stop refilling their old water dish. During this time continue to refill the fountain with fresh water daily. After a day or two of doing this, turn the fountain on for two to three hours a day, so your feline can get used to the sound.
- Remove their old water dish, so that the fountain is the only water source available. Leave the fountain on for most of the day.
- The entire process should take no longer than a week and will teach your cat that the only source of water is their new fountain. If your cat is refusing to use it, extend the time the fountain is off and gradually increase how long the fountain is left on, over a period of several days.
How to Train Your Cat to Use a Cat Tree Scratching Post
Training your cat to use a scratching post can save your furniture, drapes, and carpet from some serious damage. If your cat is constantly clawing the furniture, then this technique can have your pets flocking to the post in no time.
Before you start training, make sure you place the post in the right area. If your cats are clawing the sofa, place the tree next to it. If they’re clawing the box spring of your bed, place the post in the bedroom. If your cats normally scratch a certain spot on the carpet, placing the post over this area will be an excellent idea.
Patience is Key
If your cat doesn’t immediately take to using their new post, give it time. They may need a little coaxing, but don’t force it. Instead, let them come to it in their own time. To encourage your cats to use a post, try sprinkling it with a little catnip or place their favorite treats on and around the post. When a cat licks up the catnip or eats the treat, they will start to knead their paws. This will help your cats to discover that the scratching post has a great clawing surface.
Another option is to place your cat or kitten on it and start playing with them. You can shake the tree gently to cause them to hold onto the posts or climb and use a clicker as an audible cue to show them they’re doing exactly what you want them to. Let them explore the post and enjoy one on one time with you. You can use a wand cat toy or another type of interactive toy that you normally use during playtime.
If your kitten loves treats, keep some on hand and offer their favorite treats during scratching post playtime, or whenever you notice your cat is on the tree. Giving your cat treats will make playing on and using the post a more constructive experience for your cat.
Make Sure You Use a Stable Cat Tree
The best cat tree will be stable and will remain securely in place during use. Even if your cat continues to show no interest in their new post, over the course of a week or two, if you train them correctly and offer a treat or two whenever they climb it, you’ll notice that they approach the post to sniff it or rub up against it.
You should also take a closer look at the tree and make sure it’s stable and remains securely in place when your cat climbs. The tree shouldn’t shake, rock, or wobble as your cat walks on it or climbs. If it does shake, you’ll need to figure out how to secure it or purchase a model that earned a high rating for stability. Trees that shake can scare a cat and cause them to steer clear of it because it’s unstable.
It’s common for many pet owners to train their cats to use a leash. Like other types of training, teaching your feline how to use a leash will require patience and consistency. Fortunately, you can keep a clicker on hand during the process and familiarize your cat with the leash, clicking and rewarding them when they inspect the leash, or tolerate wearing it around the house. Remember to keep their favorite treats on hand and offer them regularly, along with plenty of words of praise. This process can take several days or weeks, but if you keep at it, you can make the entire process a constructive experience for both you and your cat.
Learning how to train a cat will take consistency and patience and their favorite treat. Using positive reinforcement to reward them for good behavior is the best way to ensure your cat is happy and willing to learn. They will also associate your positive responses with litter box use, water fountain use, and their scratching post. The techniques I’ve mentioned here have been proven to be very effective for pet owners who need to train cats of all ages. However, you will notice that training an older feline often takes more time.