Tips On How To Train Your Cat To Behave Better

Is your cat disobedient? Do you wish there was some ultimate way to train and tame it?

Newsflash! Cats can be trained!

Contrary to popular belief, even the most stubborn and insubordinate feline furballs can be tamed through a variety of obvious (and not so obvious) training methods.

You don’t have to spend tons of money on an acclaimed cat behaviorist or pet trainer’s services. In fact, you can train your kitty by yourself from the comfort of your own home! And you don’t need a special degree to do it either!

Why Train A Cat, And What Can You Train Them To Do?

Cats are known to be quite curious, capricious, and willful. Duh!

They can be destructive without actually realizing it, and they can be a real pain in your neck if you treat them wrongfully when it comes to training.

Cats can be trained to perform various tricks like pumping a fist, sitting down, rolling over, jumping through hoops, handing a paw, and so on.

But there are, indeed, some more useful things to train your cat to do.

Litter Box Training (And Toilet Training??)

One of the most important things you can do is to make sure your kitty is doing her business properly, in the place you want her to.

Sucks big time when you’re always cleaning up cat poo and pee, right? Carpet, sofa, your clothes…doesn’t matter where, it’s horrible.

We suggest having a read through our article about what to do when your kitty isn’t using the litter box. The tips and tricks in there have helped me ensure my two guys have a good relationship with their litter box.

Basically it’s best to start when they’re kittens (if you get your kitty that early). Make sure you don’t use poky materials when they’re so tiny…even crystals can hurt their little paws and make them avoid the litter box as they grow up.

After each feeding, gently place your kitten in the litter box to see if she’ll do a pee or a poo. Oh and also make sure it’s not clumping litter when they’re tiny. They don’t know not to eat it yet! Something soft and natural is best.

Keep this up until it’s a regular thing and give praise and affection when done correctly. Some people even spray their litter box with catnip or similar enjoyable scents to ensure the kitty is interested.

Put the box in a safe, quiet, and undisturbed location in the house if you can, as your furball may want some privacy.

Make sure it’s big enough that she can stand up inside, and turn around. She will not want to go if she feels too claustrophobic while doing her business.

Finally, if she just isn’t using the box, make sure you take her to the vet to see if there might be something else wrong in the health department.

And yes, you can teach kitty to use the toilet like you, but we don’t recommend it. It’s natural for cats to bury their excrement, and not having a way to do that can be psychologically negative for the cat.

However – we have had a comment from a kitty parents who was not very mobile, and she said that having the cat use the toilet meant that she wouldn’t have to give her up, basically. Since this cat parent couldn’t bend down to clean the litter box, she couldn’t very well expect the kitty to keep using the box, that would just be cruel. So she taught it how to use the loo. This made me realize that there are some instances where it is very appropriate to teach the cat!

Leash Training

If you would love to get your feline friend into the great outdoors, but you know she’d dart away, get hurt, get scared, or something else terrible while outside, you can make things easier by getting a harness or a leash.

We go over how to train them here in this article, but it’s pretty simple.

Basically, slowly introduce your cat to the leash and harness inside.

At first, just show her.

Then try to put the harness on, without the leash. Allow her to wear it inside and come to realize that it does not inhibit movement, and that it is not dangerous.

This could take a few days or weeks, depending on kitty’s temperament. Be patient!

Once she’s comfortable with the harness, attach a leash and take her for a very short walk around the house. Slowly increase the time-on-leash in your own house until she is fairly good with it.

Then, take your first step outside! But don’t go too far.

Literally just out on your patio or deck or front lawn.

Over days or weeks (again, patience!), take her for longer and longer walks, until everyone is totally comfortable with it.

Of course you can also train her to come when she hears her name, stop scratching your furniture or the door, stop biting while you’re playing, and more.

With some dedicated effort, you can teach your cat how to stop its destructive behavior or how to start performing tricks or responding to useful commands.

The Basic Rules For Training Your Cat

There are lots of tips and tricks on training your cat, but the best ways to actually achieve any success involves these basic rules:

  1. Don’t use punishment
  2. Focus on positive reinforcement
  3. Discourage any misdemeanors

Let’s review all of these practices in further detail.

1. Stop Using Any Form Of Punishment

Punishing your kitty for its wrongdoings won’t actually teach him/her a lesson. If you slap, yell, banish, point, make gestures, or inflict any other type of angry of punitive action on your cat, it won’t have a positive effect.

If you haven’t caught your kitty in action, your pet won’t understand why you’re punishing it at a later point in time.

And if you actually manage to catch your feline friend red-pawed, you’ll just provoke it to keep doing what it’s been doing each time you looked in the other direction.

Cats aren’t prone to changing their behavior because of scoldings.

Instead, they will change their destructive and wicked ways when they see that their good deeds are being rewarded. This is where positive reinforcement comes in.

Start Applying The Positive Reinforcement Practice Every Single Day

Reward your kitty each time it does something right – purring, responding to its name, using the litter box the right way, and so forth.

If you want to prevent your cat from scratching the furniture, focus on its pleasant experience with the scratching post – make it smell better, give your kitten treats, start playing with it, speak to it softly. Make sure your kitty knows that each good thing it does will be rewarded in some positive way.

This will trick the cat into thinking that while each bad deed may go unnoticed, each good deed will be rewarded. In other words, it will make your kitty focus on positive experiences and therefore, it will eventually stop messing around.

Discourage Your Feline Pet’s Misdemeanors

If your cat loves breaking stuff, scratching the sofa, doing its business where it’s not supposed to, biting your fingers during playtime, waking you up in the middle of the night to request food and so on, you definitely need to make it stop.

The proper way to do this is to discourage its improper behavior.

If you cater to your kitty’s commands, such as giving it food whenever it wakes you up, or interrupting your work time because it wants to play, it will think that you’re encouraging such bad behavior.

Many cats do nasty things just to get their owner’s attention.

And when said attention is granted to them, they see their misdemeanors as something that will be rewarded. In these cases, you need to find a subtle way to discourage them.

If your kitty starts biting during playtime, just walk away. The cat will eventually get the idea that instead of being punished for something it doesn’t understand, the improper biting will result in ending its pleasant playtime.

If your pet is scratching your favorite armchair, make the scratching post more attractive and the armchair less appealing. This way the kitten will feel discouraged from ruining your furniture because it will get a reward from using its designated scratching post.

The cat’s mind works in simple ways. If they find something that is pleasant, rewarding, and successful – they will keep doing it. So, in order to train your kitty properly, keep applying these three basic practices. Over time, your feline friend will learn what to do and what not to do.

If you want to train your cat further, you can opt for clicker training. And make sure you stock up on cat treats. Lots and lots of treats!

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Brooke McAvoy - August 31, 2016

Capricious is a great word to describe cats. It is interesting how far positive reinforcement can go with these animals even though they are a little stubborn like you said. These animals are so interesting, I appreciate all of your detailed information on how to properly train them. Thank you!

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Sarah Burton - December 23, 2018

How would you use this positive reinforcement to help keep the cat from trying to escape outside. We are trying to keep our cat strictly indoors but she is constantly running to the front door and has escaped a few times. I am worried for her safety as we live near a main road, but not sure how to positively discourage her from going near the door?

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