It sounds difficult enough to train any cat, but an adult or even a senior?
Is it even possible?
The experts say you can teach your old cat new tricks. Maybe you’ve adopted an older cat, or perhaps your just looking for a fun way to bond with your best pal and help her get some exercise.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you along the way.
Dogs Vs. Cats
Dog training is nothing new. If you get a puppy, you’re expected to train it. If your dog is having behavioral issues, you call a professional trainer.
There are books, tools, classes, and of course the trainers themselves. It’s an industry that makes billions of dollars each year.
But what about cats?
There are cat behaviorists, and while a great one can be invaluable when it comes to addressing problematic behavior, it’s not quite as easy to find a cat specialist who teaches tricks.
How can we celebrate our feline friends with training for sheer fun?
Cats are not dogs. They aren’t as social, and they aren’t pack animals. Cats are perfectly happy in solitary situations because, in the wild, they most often hunted alone.
Does this mean dogs are easier to train? Because dogs crave attention, they are more likely to perform tricks.
They want to please. Cats, on the other hand, don’t require the same kind of praise.
They do, however, have long memories and can be motivated- you just have to have a little time, patience, and know-how.
Start in Your Own Environment
It begins at home.
Cats prefer staying in their own environment. If you’ve ever taken your cat to the vet, or taken your dog to the vet when a cat was in the lobby, then you know this is a truth.
While most dogs can be happy pretty much anywhere, your cat will be happier and more relaxed if you train her right at home.
Set your cat up to succeed by keeping your expectations reasonable. Start with basic commands that your cat can learn quickly. You’ll both be motivated to go further in the training game, and no one will get bored or frustrated.
Tools of the Trade
Try motivating your feline friend with treats she really enjoys. Freeze-dried chicken, fresh tuna, or anything she is partial too will work. Keep the bites small.
Using a clicker training device to make learning faster and easier. You can pick one up for just a few dollars at a local pet supply store or online.
Beginning training with a recall command can be very rewarding and even lifesaving.
Should Fluffy ever escape, you’ll have more of a shot at getting her to return. Start training at a time of the day when your cat will be hungry.
Leave a distance of about two feet between you and your cat. Decide on a short verbal cue, like “Tiger, Come!” And immediately reward Tiger when she comes to you. Cats learn from repetition, so repeat the exercise a few times.
As your cat succeeds, gradually increase the distance between you.
Try 10-20 repetitions each day.
Walk It Out
You can teach your cat to walk on a leash. First, choose a harness designed for cats. Leave it where your cat is happiest for a few days, so he can get used to it.
When he shows interest in the leash, reward him with a treat. Next, drape the harness over your cat’s shoulders and down his chest between his front legs. Put the harness on your cat, but don’t attach the leash yet. Immediately distract him with tasty treats. Finally, attach the leash while giving him treats. GO SLOWLY!
Practice walking your cat indoors, by dropping treats and encouraging him to follow you. When your feline friend seems comfortable, take him for a short spin in the great outdoors.
Welcome to the Potty
We won’t teach you how here, but it is very possible to teach your cat to use the toilet. And flush it afterward. It may seem like a lofty goal, but what a potty trick!
If you’re finding that you & your cat are enjoying learning, pick up one of these great books to learn more:
- Clicker Training for Cats Fun Kit by Karen Pryor
- Teaching Your Cat Simple Tricks by Arden Moore
- Cat Behavior and Training: Veterinary Advice for Owners by Ackerman, Landsberg, and Hunthausen
- Good Owners, Great Cats by Kilcommons and Wilson
Remember, every cat is different when it comes to what works for learning curves, so don’t give up if one or two techniques don’t work.
Once you find a flow that works keep it moving and watch your cat continue to grow.