How to train your cat

A lot of people ask, ‘how do I train my cat?’ The answer is simple. You can’t. However, you can modify their behaviour and ‘appear’ to train them. Always remember, our cats train us not the other way around and it’s up to us to break out of these unseen bonds and take back our independence!

Every time your cat does something naughty or unwanted, take a few moments and think. Is there something I could have done to prevent this? Have I unwittingly shown my cat that it is ok to behave like this?

Sometimes it’s hard to think like a cat, but that is what we must do if we are to understand why they are acting the way they do.

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Skylar sitting in the rubbish box

My cat eliminates outside the litter tray

Cat’s have an excellent sense of smell – far better than ours. Is the tray cleaned often enough? Is it rinsed out well so there are no overpowering chemical smells left over from any cleaning products used? Have I changed the type of  litter recently? Is the tray big enough? Is it too high for an older cat?

My cat climbs up on the kitchen counter all the time

Are there food scraps left on the counter? Has the cat got any other high places to climb onto – tops of wardrobes, cupboards etc. to satisfy their need to climb? Have I given the cat attention, perhaps when it was smaller, when it climbed on the counter?

My cat tears the furniture

Has the cat got a suitable scratching post or pad available? Is the scratching post attractive to my cat – do I need to make it attractive to my cat? Is another cat ‘blocking’ my cat from using the post by marking it as their territory?

My cat follows me to the kitchen begging for food every time

Is my cat hungry? Have I ‘trained’ my cat to ask for food by offering treats whenever it miaows? Do I normally feed the cat in the kitchen?

Questions, Questions, Questions

By looking for and finding the answers to these questions – and many more – we can begin to understand why our cats act the way they do. After this, we can start to put a plan in place to modify the unwanted behaviour and change it to behaviour that we can happily live with.

Heathcliffe and Jinx no longer climb onto the kitchen counters all the time. I stopped giving them a reason to climb up there. I cleared other window ledges in the house as they liked looking out the kitchen window. I removed the fruit bowl – they thought the apples were balls for playing with. I stopped giving them any attention when they were on the counters – I gave them treats only when they were on the floor, if they went onto the counters I put the treats away. I cleared off the desk so they could sit on there instead.

There are usually answers if we are prepared to look for them.

Skylar still loves sitting on the kitchen counters – I really must stop kissing him when he’s up there!