Sit, stay, down! All basic commands used regularly to educate our canine companions, who are usually happy to comply. After all, it’s in their nature to want to please! But what if you share your life with a cat? Contrary to popular belief, our adorable independent kitties can also be trained. Obviously, you don’t educate a cat like you would a dog, but the same rules apply: love, consistency and patience.
A Well-Mannered Cat
The first thing a kitten learns, often by instinct, is to use a litter box. Cats like to be clean, so it’s quite easy to teach them good manners in that field. On the other hand, some precautions are necessary to make sure that your fluff ball won’t be tempted to do his business around the house (because getting rid of the smell of cat urine is not something you want to have to deal with!) Make sure the litter box is in a quiet corner of your home and that it is emptied regularly. This last point is essential! If your cat doesn’t find a clean corner in his box, he will find one elsewhere and what seems like an acceptable place to him, might not be to you. If your feline friend seems reluctant to use a litter box like a well-mannered cat, you can encourage him by placing him in there yourself after his meal. If difficulties persist, consult your veterinarian, it may be a health-related issue. Better to be safe than sorry!
A Good Scratch Post for Great Cohabitation
The need to “scratch” is visceral in felines. It’s a way of communicating and it’s in their nature. Therefore, it’s not a behaviour you can eliminate. However, you can encourage your kitty not to do it on your favourite sofa or that heirloom piece of furniture you love so much. Give him a place where he can satisfy this irresistible urge. A cat tree or a small piece of carpet will do the trick. You can try several types to determine what your cat likes best. If you catch him “scratching” an armchair, just move him gently to the designated place (cat tree, for example) so he can do it to his heart’s content. Obviously, the earlier that good habit is introduced in a cat’s life, the easier it will be to convince him that the scratching post is as satisfying as your lovely retro velvet sofa. However, if you adopt an older cat who loves to dig his claws in every couch in sight, don’t despair, all is not lost! Keep reading for some golden rules of feline education.
Patience, Consistency and Yummy Treats
The biggest mistake you can make when educating a cat (or dog) is setting unrealistic expectations. Training an animal takes a lot of time and it is important to set achievable goals. After all, Rome was not built in a day! Of course, if you’re reading this article, chances are you are a feline lover. Therefore, you know the basic rule of never hitting an animal or yelling when it misbehaves or doesn’t follow the rules. Aside from showing your pet to fear humans, it is absolutely useless. A cat will not make the connection between this behaviour and what he has done wrong, so it may leave him confused and fearful. As in everything, positive reinforcement, consistency, a good dose of patience and a lot of love are the secret ingredients of a successful education. Whether you’re training your pet to use the litter box, cat tree or even having bigger ambitions like showing him some cool tricks (yes, kitty cats can learn to fetch the ball), treats and cuddles will always give better results than a punishment.
Do not try to teach every trick at once and keep the training sessions short and sweet. By doing the same things and repeating the same instructions on a regular basis, you will achieve your goals. Patience, consistency and love… The golden rule for a well-behaved cat!