How to Train a Cat Like a Dog

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Think you can't train a cat like a dog? Think again! Unlike dogs, cats will not do anything they don't want to do. With a little patience, food and a little plastic and metal clicker, soon you will have your cat sitting, staying and coming when called.

Things You'll Need

  • Cat Treats
  • Cat Food
  • Cat Dishes
  • Cat Toys
  • Plastic and Metal Clicker

Study your cat's behavior to see what it does naturally, then reinforce that behavior with praise. Whenever action you'd like your cat to repeat, such as fetching, or coming to its name, praise it by saying, "Good!" and pet it at the same time. It will quickly learn to associate the praise by performing this act.

Use food and a plastic and metal clicker as training tools. To get the cat to associate food with the clicker, give her a treat, then use the clicker. Do this every time you feed her a treat or her regular meal. To make sure she's made the connection between the clicker and food, use the clicker to see if she runs to where you would normally feed her.

Be consistent with the commands you use. Do not use "come" and then "here." It will only confuse the cat.

Use the cat's name with each command, and praise her with petting and saying, "Good Tigger" (or whatever your cat's name is). Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

To get a cat to sit on command, hold the food reward over her head. Speak her name, say, "sit," then move the food back over the cat's head. This will make her sit down, as her head naturally follows the food. The second she sits, use the clicker, say "sit" again, then give her the food reward. It won't take long for her to associate the food reward with the command, and the clicker will become a thing of the past.

After teaching your cat to sit, it will be easier to teach her to come. Once she's gotten to the point of coming to the food station at the sound of the clicker, say, "come" and then use the clicker. When she arrives, give her some food and praise her, as with every training command. Try this at different locations around your house. Eventually she will come to you without having to use the clicker.

Getting your cat to stay is one of the harder training sessions you might have. Take the food, put it about ten feet away from the cat. As she walks toward the food, put out your hand and say, "stay." If she stops moving, use the clicker, and give her the food reward. If she keeps moving, keep repeating the command, "stay" until she stops. Only reward her if she stops. Repeat this until she understands that "stay" means "stop where you are."

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that a cat has a different motivation system than a dog. While dogs want to please the leader of the pack, cats learn by being observant and curious, and their reward is pleasing themselves, not you.
  • Body language is important. Keep training fun and rewarding, speak in a positive tone of voice.
  • Refrain from using the word "no" when training your cat. He will automatically assume he's done something bad, and will shut down. Instead, use a phrase like, "ah ah ah" so he realizes he's not doing something right. Reserve the word "no" for when the cat is actually misbehaving.
  • Use a positive tone of voice and body language when training your cat. Cats are perceptive and can pick up on negative tones in your voice and body language.
  • Make training a game. The more fun you make the training, the better the outcome will be.
  • Never punish your cat by striking it. The cat will associate your hand with negativity, making rewarding and training all the more difficult.

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