When someone buys a dog, they likely envision a loving, loyal companion. This is a relationship that needs to be developed through training, discipline, and affectionate bonding; a mutual understanding between you and your dog. It is a companionship that will last forever as the dog will idolize, follow, and protect you.
Cats are different. That’s not to say a cat isn’t loyal or affectionate, but many owners would likely agree that most cats have a different sort of aura to them. For example, a farmer may have to train his dog to help herd his sheep, and the dog could take to it like a duck to water, expertly managing dozens of animals twice its size to achieve a goal that the dog was determined to accomplish to please the farmer. But the farmer’s cat watches from a distance with its nose pointed up and a look of superiority on its face. The cat will later ignore the farmer when he comes back inside until it’s time for dinner.
That is an example for your entertainment of course, your cat may not be like that at all. But it is difficult to deny the sense of independence that a cat emits – even when it’s not true. This is why it’s common for cat owners to barely train their cats beyond using the litter box and not scratching the furniture. But cats are actually very receptive to being trained for other things as well, and it’s best to start the training process when they’re still kittens.
How To Train Your Kitten
When someone buys a dog, they’re usually envisioning a loving, loyal companion. Through training, discipline, and affectionate bonding; a mutual understanding between you and your dog and a deeper relationship is forged.
It is a companionship that will last forever and your dog will loyally follow idolise, and protect you. It's a wonderfully rewarding connection and one that your dog actively seeks out with you.
Cats are different.
That’s not to say a cat isn’t loyal or affectionate, but many owners would likely agree that most cats have a different sort of aura to them. They are entirely more independent, tend to seek out companionship less frequently and differently than dogs and can be incredibly difficult to train.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how to train your kitten for the most positive experience as a cat owner.
Temperaments Cats Vs Dogs
Imagine this scenario. A farmer is training his dog to help herd his sheep and the dog could takes to it like a duck to water, expertly managing dozens of animals twice its size to achieve the desired outcome. During this exercise it is evident that the dog was determined to please the farmer to whom it is devoted and consistently seeks their approval.
Conversely, the farmer’s cat watches from a distance with its nose pointed up and a look of superiority on its face. The cat will later ignore the farmer when he comes back inside, even if called, until it’s time for dinner. The cat couldn’t care less what the farmer thinks about it.
This is purely an entertaining example, of course, in reality your cat may not be like this at all. However, it is hard to deny the strong sense of independence that most cats emit.
It is this independence and at times indifference that can make a cat harder to train or lead to the assumption that a cat cannot be trained.
It’s common for cat owners to barely train their cats beyond using the litter box and to not scratch at the furniture. However, it may surprise you to learn that most cats are actually very receptive to being trained for other things as well.
If you start the training process when they’re still kittens they can actually learn some pretty impressive skills.
The Best Way To Train A Kitten
While both cats and dogs do not understand language as such, they do have the capacity to understand certain words or commands. But while dogs have been shown to understand over 100 words, cats can understand around 25-35 words.
This is not to say dogs are smarter than cats, it is simply to demonstrate that they understand us differently and as such, we need to tailor our training approach accordingly.
While dogs instinctually work in partnership with humans, which tends to make training easier, cats and kittens are just as capable of following commands and performing tricks as their canine counterparts.
Kittens learn best through training techniques that involve repetition and positive reinforcement - usually with treats. Cats want a reward that is really worth their while and a simple pat or ‘good boy/girl’ that worked when training your dog is unlikely to cut it!
You should use a hand signal or verbal cue each time you train your cat in the skill and repeat, repeat, repeat.
What To Train Your Kitten And How
Most kitten training revolves around teaching them not to engage in their natural bad habits like the aforementioned scratching and not using the litter box. All important endeavours.
To support fast and effective training in these two key areas we recommend the following:
- Toileting. Cats naturally like to bury their leavings, so cat litter training usually involves just placing them in the box and rewarding them when they use it.
- Scratching. To get them to use a cat scratcher, buy them a good one that will support their weight and has an alluring material for them.
Tempt them to the scratcher by using toys or catnip; when they feel the post they’ll notice and remember its sensation for when they need to scratch something.
But what are some other things we can train our cat to do?
To start, you could also train your cat to walk on a leash. This allows you to walk your cat outside which is a great bonding exercise and allows your cat to safely see the world without sneaking out of your yard unsupervised (which many have a strong desire to do) or injuring local wildlife.
To do this, make sure to use a harness instead of a collar, as cats hate the pulling sensation of a collar on their throat. Get your cat used to wearing a harness by slowly introducing it around the house. Once they are comfortable, you can attach the lead, letting it drag it behind them - always while supervised.
When they are used to the feeling of thge leads tension behind them, you can try picking it up. Repeat this process slowly until your cat is comfortable before you take the lead training outside.
A common complaint people express about cats is their propensity to go wherever they like in the house which can be frustrating and unhygienic - but it doesn't have to be this way.
If you don’t want your cat deciding to go for a stroll across your kitchen counter while you’re cooking dinner, you can train them to go to a designated area such as their bed or scratcher post when told.
You can do this by leaving treats and rewards in this area, tempting them to go to it – when they do, praise them. You can also lead or carry them to the spot while speaking the command, and once again reward them when they reach it.
Doing this will lead the cat to begin positively associating this spot with good things. Next, you’ll likely need to train them to stay in this spot. Make it appealing by putting it near a window for them to look out of or by having a scratcher available there to keep them busy.
Once they’re in their spot, tell them to stay, and then make a movement – tempting them to move as well. If they do, put them back and repeat the command. Repeat this until they don’t move when you do and reward them when they get it right.
General Kitten Training Tips
When it comes to training a kitten or even just having a cat around the house, it’s important to understand some basics before beginning.
As dogs want to impress you, they naturally try harder to understand and learn what it is you are teaching them.
Because cats do not share the same desire to please as dogs, it can take a little more time and patience to train them in what you want them to do. If your cat doesn't seem to be getting it, don’t give up! You have to be persistent and consistent.
To start, if you have a rule you’d like the cat to follow make sure everyone enforces it. Your partner may tell the cat not to get up on the counter, but if you find it cute and don’t enforce the rule when your partner isn’t around, the cat will only get confused.
Consistency is key. Keep your training sessions short or else the cat’s interest and attention will wane. Make your training sessions short but regular throughout the day.
Use as much positive reinforcement as you can. Cats don’t respond well to being angrily reprimanded (no one does!), so instead focus on when they do something right. Harshly telling off your cat will only make them avoid you.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
Finally, it’s best to just train one skill at a time so as not to overwhelm and confuse your kitten. Use as much repetition as you can and be patient - most cats will take longer to master a trick than a dog, so try not to expect too much too soon.
When they’ve got the hang of it, you can move to the next trick.