Saturday, June 18, 2011

Training A Cat

If you wanted to start training your cat to do tricks, most people would probably tell you that you are crazy. Cats are too independent, too aloof, that sort of thing, and that it will never work. In fact, training a cat can actually be rather easy. You just need to know how to work with them. Cats are very intelligent, and they're unlikely to start doing things for you unless there is some sort of incentive. It's a "what's in it for me?" sort of mentality. So, if your cat really likes food it will make training them much easier. They're aren't like dogs, who will often do absolutely anything just to get a simple pat on the head.

My cat, Albus (a fluffy flame point mix with white on both his legs and face), knows several commands. I haven't spent a lot of time training him, but he knows Sit, Up, Stand, and Jump Up and will do all of them happily. He's especially good at sitting on command, and will do so instantly without the lure of food. I really must get a video. If I can teach him, an often grumpy curmudgeon, I'm sure that anyone else can train their kitty too. Here's someone who has taught their cat even more:

If you want to start training your cat, here are some things to remember:
  1. Find some sort of treat that your kitty adores. Something small, so that you can give a good amount without over-stuffing him or her. 
  2. Figure out how to shape the trick you want to teach them. Techniques that work on dogs usually work equally well on cats.
  3. Work in small sessions, since cats have small stomachs and also can lose interest quickly.
  4. Consider implementing a clicker, as clicker training will help him or her pick up the behavior more quickly.
  5. Most importantly: make it fun! 
With some patience, your kitty should be able to do tricks too. 

Of course, I must mention my other cat, Ginny (a semi-feral dilute tortoiseshell). I dad make an attempt to train her as well, but it did not go very will. However, I chalk that up to her somewhat feral nature. When I tried to lure the sit she would give me a wary look and walk away. Usually, luring sit works the first time, if not soon after, and several attempts have all ended in failure. Since I don't want to stress her, I will be leaving my training to Albus.

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