Cat training: wishful thinking or reality?

Cats are said to have a mind of their own and to be stubborn. They have a strong personality that tests their owners to the limit. But is cat training really wishful thinking? No! It’s definitely possible to train cats. Here we tell you how to achieve success.

Based on trust

Having a good relationship with your pet is vital for successful cat training. Spend time with your cat so that it can learn to trust you. Cuddling and playing with your cat helps you to get to know each other. Only if you know your cat well will you be able to tailor your training measures to your companion.

Cat on an elevated lying place - cat training

Training cats – our tips at a glance

  1. Be consistent
  2. Agree on rules with other family members
  3. Get kittens used to principles from early on
  4. Don’t react immediately when your cat meows
  5. Provide sufficient scratching options
  6. Set limits with a strict “No”
  7. Don’t punish your cat, but rather reinforce positive behaviour
  8. Act as soon as it shows undesirable behaviour
  9. Be patient

Consistent cat training

Cat training requires you to be clear right from the beginning about what’s allowed and what’s not. If several persons live in your household, you should exchange your views in advance on what is not acceptable for your cat. Laying down set rules is a helpful measure. If everybody doesn’t pull together, you won’t be successful in training your cat. It will not understand, for example, why it’s allowed to get on the dining table on one occasion and another time it’s not. Consistency is a prerequisite for cat training.

Ignoring unwanted behaviour

Since cats are nocturnal animals, they may get bored during the night if they are the only cat in your household. A cat meowing at night may be seeking your attention. Cat owners who react to their cat’s meowing by getting up at five o’clock in the morning to feed it reinforce this behaviour. They train the cat to wake them up at an unspeakable hour. The cat associates a positive result with its behaviour because it’s rewarded with a full feeding bowl. If you don’t want to be woken up at the crack of dawn, ignore your meowing cat. True, it’s not always easy. But if you give in, your cat will learn that it can get your attention with its behaviour. And then it’ll be hard to retrain it later.

With voice and tone

Signal what is forbidden in a clear way. Saying “No” in a strict and determined manner is often sufficient. Most cats react to this keyword; the tone of voice, however, is important. Raise your voice a little and be determined. If your cat ignores your rebuke, you can also clap your hands, as many cats don’t like that sound. As a general rule don’t shout at your cat and don’t get rough. Saying “No” consistently and being patient will help you to succeed with your cat training.

Claws away from furniture

Some behaviours are innate, such as claw sharpening and chasing prey. Rather than trying to rid your feline friend of these habits, try to channel this natural behaviour in the desired direction. For example, offer your cat enough scratching options in the form of cat trees, scratching boards and sisal mats. In doing so you help to protect your furniture and wallpaper. Whenever you see your cat clawing at your sofa, take it and bring it to one of the scratching places in your apartment. If it then uses the new place to sharpen its claws, praise it. That way you train your cat to use the intended scratching place.

Fingers and toes are not prey

Cats have a well-developed urge to play, especially kittens. If your kitten tends to bite or scratch you slightly while playing, immediately stop playing and say clearly “No!”. Teach it right from the start that this is unwanted behaviour, because an adult cat that extends its claws while playing can harm you. Don’t offer your cat your fingers or toes to play with. If your cat attacks hands or feet, immediately take it aside and distract it with a suitable toy it can chase.

The table is out of bounds

Cats love sitting and lying on elevated places because these give them a good overview of the room. So it’s not surprising that the dining table holds a certain attraction for them. As soon as you notice that your feline companion wants to jump onto the table, intervene with a strict “No!”. If it doesn’t seem to care and jumps nevertheless, take your friend from the table and move it to an elevated lying place. Distract it with a little game and praise it afterwards.

Positive reinforcement

Cats learn best through praise. When your cat claws at the scratching post, give it praise by caressing it. You can also give it a treat from time to time. That way your cat associates good behaviour with positive results and reward. If punished, cats often react with fear and stress, something which can cause lasting harm to the trusting relationship between you and your pet.

Instant action

Immediate action is crucial for your cat training. React instantly when your cat breaks a taboo because it isn’t able to associate your delayed reaction with its previous behaviour.

Plenty of patience

Cats have a strong personality. A lot of patience is therefore needed to convince them to do certain things and refrain from others. Mutual trust is important for you to have success with your training measures. Consistent action and plenty of patience are also needed. Then even the most obstinate cat will learn to stick to your rules!