It’s really a big fulfillment when you get to teach your pets a few tricks. Being able to do so not only means that you are a good teacher, but more importantly you have instilled the value of respect to your pet animals both by means of leadership and example.
But when it comes to cats, you should be aware that they tend to be harder to train compared to dogs. Yes, they can be taught a few tricks, but since the feline nature is more stubborn than that of their canine counterparts, you have to be extra patient when teaching them skills. Don’t worry though; cats are very intelligent. They know you are teaching them stuff, but it’s at their discretion whether to follow you or not.
So how exactly do you train your cat into doing certain skills? Well, before doing so, you must first learn the different types of “life skills” that you can teach to your cat, and why they matter to you and your feline friend.
Essential cat lessons that you can teach
Toilet habits are among the essential lessons your cat should learn at an early age. This is because when they are not potty-trained, they will end up making a big mess in your home. You can then teach your cat to pee and defecate in a designated litter box until such time that they are using it as their own toilet.
Since cats are capricious and stubborn by nature, they also develop some destructive behaviour, such as scratching furniture, posts, or items that can be destroyed. This can be tricky, especially the scratching attitude, because it’s their nature to scratch on surfaces.
Contrary to popular belief, cats can be walked on a leash. It just takes humongous amount of patience for them to get used to walking under controlled conditions.
Like dogs, cats can also be taught to list down, shake paws, roll over, and even jump through hoops. And yes, they will also respond when called by their name.
The trick to teaching your cat tricks
If there’s one thing you need to understand about cats, it’s that they do not feel the need or urge to make their owners happy (unlike dogs). Thus, you won’t see them excited when asked to do a trick. Oftentimes they’ll just look at you in a stubborn manner, as if saying that there’s no way that they will be doing what is being asked of them.
Hence, to be able to teach your feline pets, you should learn the art of positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement works by recognizing your pet’s efforts rather than punishing them for their mistakes or failures. This type of training works best with cats as they are extra sensitive when it comes to human interaction and intervention, and at the single instance they feel unsafe with your actions, they will most likely become useless trainees and won’t learn anything.
Among the ways to practice positive reinforcement during training are:
This trick works every single time. When teaching your cat a skill, you should always have a reward ready, so that whenever it gets your lesson right, the cat receives a treat. Treats can be in the form of food or a toy that they can play after their learning session.
Just like with other animals, cats learn via repetition. Thus you should not get tired when teaching them a trick and they don’t get it right at the first try. You should demonstrate repeatedly the skill you want them to learn, and allow them to follow suit until such time that they become familiar with the surroundings that prompt them to do the lesson they’ve learned.
Acknowledging their achievement is also an effective way of teaching cats tricks. Through acknowledgement your cat realizes that whenever it does that skill, it would get a nod of approval from you. And yes, cats do recognize acknowledgment, and they see it as a direction for them to follow through.
What not to do
Lastly, when teaching your cats tricks, you should never punish them. Cats can be very sensitive, and they know when their owners are angry or not. Once you hit them or punish them for doing something wrong or not getting your lessons right, then for sure they would end up stubborn and careless for days, not to mention snobbish and resistant to your subsequent apologies. You may never get your former relationship back as owner and cat if and when you start hurting them (especially physically).
Cats are totally adorable pets, and they are fast learners. Hence, if you are into animals who are not eye candy but are as well very useful at home, then it’s time to get a cat!