We all know the perception that cats can be a little “aloof”. So if this is the case, then how exactly do we train such a defiant little pet? Well, firstly science has shown us that unlike their canine counterparts cats tend to be loyal to very few people and they are not as easy to please. Cats don’t tend to be upset when you give them time out, as they enjoy being alone, often they are not as annoyed at being ignored, because they are independent. But just like any child, every cat has a motivator. The key is to find it out!
1. The Driving Force!
Cats are no different to humans when you want them to learn something. First, we need to find the motivator or their reward. Every cat has one and this is the key to training your cat. My kitty has a passion for little dried fish, others love biscuits and some may be better encouraged with cat milk. Either way, establish you cats’ reward (frequently for cats it is food driven). This is their “Achilles-heel” or the incentive and make sure that you don’t exploit the rewards system, or you may have an obese cat as their key talent.
In most cases, when using food as a motivator just try to bear this in mind at their next meal time. If you have fed him/her a handful of sardines, then be sure to substitute this from their next mealtime.
2. The Clicker
There are a few different tools you can use to train your cat. But clicker training has been shown to be the most effective. Now you can purchase a clicker from any pet shop or veterinarian. Clicker training works on the philosophy that a desired behavior will equate to a reward for your cat.
This training has proven to be incredibly successful in a range of felines, but especially Bengal cats.
3. How to train
Firstly, you need a LOT of patience. Cats are not a “people pleasing” type of animal, which is why we really need to have a motive for them to complete a task. It is very customized to your cat; sardines are my cats’ reward of choice.
Now, with the clicker in one hand and a treat in the other say a command. Then when the cat obeys, give them a reward. Now this is not a fast process. For example, if you would like your cat to meow. Simply use a click then give a reward. After a few times of rewarding your cat, simply alternate between clicking and giving a reward and just a click.
After alternating between the reward and just the click, try to slowly stop rewarding every click. After a period of time, your cat will associate the click with the action. If you find they are loosing interest, then you might need to reward a few times to re-enforce the behavior once again.
This is a very tried and tested method for training dogs and has recently proven to be effective to train cats. Remember that you need to be patient and that your cat needs to have respect for you in order for this method to work. Be gentle with your cat and never use force or intimidation while training or disciplining your pets. Cats are not like dogs. If intimidate your cat, you are risking loosing a companion forever.