How to train a cat?

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Cats are very intelligent and curious animals, which have a great learning ability. However, generally many people may find it strange to teach new things and tricks to a feline, beyond basic obedience, due to their reputation for being rather independent and self-centered animals..

Now, feline training exists, and this activity brings multiple benefits to your cat's well-being, since it stimulates him mentally, proposes different challenges in his day-to-day life and, of course, enriches the relationship with his tutor. For this reason, if you are interested in knowing how to train a cat, don't stop reading this AnimalWised article to the end.

You may also be interested in: How to train a dog? Index
  1. What is feline training?
  2. Can you train a cat?
  3. How to train your cat?
  4. Tricks to teach your cat

What is feline training?

The concept of training refers to the act of carrying out a learning process in an animal, in order for it to learn to run an action after prompted, either through a gesture or an oral command.

This procedure is carried out on all kinds of animals, with the intention that they learn the most varied skills and / or tricks. From small actions, like kicking or sitting, to complex performances, like dancing.

Differences between training and educating a cat

This term should not be confused with education, because although this concept is related to training, because they are learning processes, both have different purposes.

Education is necessary, because the animal learn to behave and adapt positively to different everyday situations. For example, teaching a cat to play without hurting you implies that you are educating him to behave appropriately when you play with him. You are not teaching him one specific slogan, as it would be done in training, but for their behavior to change so that the game is beneficial for both.

If you have just adopted a kitten, we recommend you read this other article about ¿How to train a cat from a young age?

Can you train a cat?

Of course. Training is a procedure that can be used in all kinds of animals, be they our pets, birds, rodents, and even the well-known dolphins. All those animals that are capable of learning can be trained if the theory of learning is known, specifically, the conditioning. However, it is necessary to know the needs, capacities and behavior patterns of each species in order to have realistic objectives..

Nevertheless, ¿Why do we not know this facet of cats so much compared to dogs? The individual characteristics of felines make them more difficult to train compared to dogs. Or in any case, the correct statement would be that dogs are much easier to train because of what they are, dogs. This is because they have been with us humans for many centuries, and being our companions for so long they have shaped their cognition, having a much more adaptable mind and interest in liking us, in addition to learning, which is why they have been used for the most varied jobs and we know more about the facet of dog training.

Cats, on the other hand, are much more instinctive, they don't need to like us and they have not been required to become prone to learning, because they have not been needed over time for specific jobs. At most, these have become our pets because they were originally kept to drive away mice, a goal for which they do not need to be trained, since they do it by and for themselves.

On the other hand, to educate and / or train a cat correctly, it is important to take into account these 15 things that you should not do to your cat.

How to train your cat?

Training a cat is a process that will require perseverance, patience, and an understanding of feline behavior. The guidelines that you should take into account are:

Short sessions

The time you spend training your cat should last no more than 15 minutes, several days of the week. This is because surely your cat loses interest easily, especially if you have started training it recently..

For this reason, the ideal is to end the session before your cat begins to ignore you or become distracted, you should always make sure that throughout the session your cat is motivated and that it is you who ends the session, not him when he is tired.

Awards and motivation

It is unthinkable to train your cat without using the positive reinforcement, that is, to give him a very valuable prize each time he performs the desired action. This is because the prize will motivate your cat to carry out this learning and to pay attention to you.

The prize in question must be something that only be during the training session (for which, caresses or their feed are not worth it), something really of value that I associate with these sessions, such as wet food, slices of ham, malt for cats…

Finally, in many of the tricks that you can teach your cat, the prize will serve as a guide to follow, so that it moves in the desired way to achieve a specific position.

Easy goals

During training, you will have to set small objectives that gradually get closer to the final goal, a fact that is technically known in training as increase criterion.

¿What does this mean? For example, if you want to teach your cat to stand up on its hind legs, you should first reward any elevation it makes of the front legs and progressively increase the difficulty., rewarding you every time you've made progress. That is, reward when he raises one leg, then reward him when he raises two legs, then when he holds out for a few seconds raising his body, etc. You cannot pretend, therefore, that your cat from the beginning can stand on its hind legs, because it will not understand or achieve it, and it will end up frustrated.

Avoid physical manipulation and punishment

Many times we tend to pick up and move the animal as if it were a doll to teach it to perform a trick. This procedure is not entirely effective, because by how they learn, the animal does not understand that it has to adopt a position to which we force it, but rather to take an action to get a reinforcer, that is, the award.

Applying physical manipulation in cats is much more contradictory, because while dogs can tolerate to a lesser or greater extent that they are manipulated depending on the character (for example, take their paw to teach them to give it), the cat just hates, because being grabbed is instinctively seen as a threat. Therefore, the training session designed to be motivating and entertaining for the feline, ends up becoming unpleasant..

In the same way, punishing your cat to learn is simply not feasible, because he will not understand you and goes to generate distrust, Completely counterproductive if what you want is that your cat wants to be with you and trust you, in order to learn new things.

Gestural and verbal instructions

To teach your cat to perform an action after you ask it with a verbal command, you must first teach to obey the gesture, since they generally have an easier time learning to obey the orders visuals.

Next, you must associate this gesture with an auditory stimulus, that is, a short and clear word, which should always be the same and in the same tone of voice so as not to create confusion.

Understand your cat

It is not the same to teach a young cat than an older one, in the same way, you should not have the same objectives for a meek cat to a rather scary one. The limit on what you can or cannot teach your cat will be your well being. That is, if teaching your cat something implies that it is going to suffer stress and / or physical pain, due to age, some pathology, its character… You should simply stop teaching this trick and look for a simpler one or, obviously, one that does not cause discomfort, since training should be an activity that benefits both.

Clicker use

The clicker is a very useful tool that is used in the training of all kinds of animals, as it allows teaching all kinds of tricks and the most spectacular skills, respecting the natural behavior of this.

This consists of a small box (it fits perfectly in the hand), which every time you press a button emits a sound of "click ", and serves to tell the animal what it is doing well, to repeat it again.

To use this tool, you must first load the clicker. This step consists of associating the sound "click" with positive reinforcement. For this reason, the first days of training you should teach him only this association to create a good foundation for training. To do this, give the prize to your cat and, every time he goes for it, make the sound. In this way, your cat will understand that every time the "click " sounds you are going to reward it.

Tricks to teach your cat

With the use of the clicker, there are many possibilities you have to teach your cat. In fact, any behavior that your cat performs normally, such as meowing, you can associate it with a slogan if you make a gesture (visual stimulus), perform the "click " when it performs the action and you reward it instantly. Your cat will constantly associate this gesture with the action he has just performed.

To start training your cat, we recommend that you teach him these simple tricks:

¿How to teach a cat to sit?

  1. Hold the clicker in one hand and the prize in the other.
  2. Raise the prize above your cat's head.
  3. Your cat will sit up and / or lean his body back. Make "click " with the clicker and quickly give the prize.
  4. Insist several sessions, until your cat is fully seated and associates the gesture of raising the prize above his head with sitting down. When it does, it associates this action with a clear oral command, such as "sit down " or "sit ".

For more information, you can consult this other article about ¿How to teach a cat to sit?

¿How to teach a cat to lie down?

  1. Hold the clicker in one hand and the prize in the other.
  2. Ask him to sit.
  3. Drag the prize from under his head to the ground.
  4. Your cat will begin to lean its body towards the ground. "Click" with the clicker and quickly give him the treat every time he gets close to the throwing position. With insistence, you will make it end up stretching.
  5. When your cat understands the gesture, associate it with the oral command such as "lie down " or "floor ".

¿How to teach a cat to turn around?

  1. Hold the clicker in one hand and the prize in the other.
  2. Ask him to lie on the floor.
  3. Drag the prize up his spine from one side of his body (lateral) to the other end.
  4. Your cat will follow the prize with its head, turning its body on itself from one side to the other. Make "click " with the clicker and quickly give the prize.
  5. When your cat understands the gesture, associate it with the oral command such as "croquette " or "back ".

¿How to teach a cat to stand on two legs?

  1. Hold the clicker in one hand and the prize in the other.
  2. Ask him to sit.
  3. Drag the award up from his head to follow him, rising off the ground.
  4. Reward the minimum elevation of the ground (even if it is only one leg), using the clicker and rewarding at the moment. Increase the criteria progressively.
  5. Once you learn to raise the front legs, gradually increase the time it must hold (that is, first one second, then two, etc.).
  6. When your cat understands the gesture, associate it with the oral command such as "up ".

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