The epidemic contributed to an increase in people adopting puppies and kittens and first-time pet owners. Even inexperienced owners anticipate that a new puppy will require some training, but few people assume the same of kittens.
However, cats require assistance to get used to living with humans, just like dogs do. Simple training methods may be beneficial for their health.
Historically speaking, cats and humans have had different interactions than dogs. Cats have never been selectively developed to improve their capacity for teamwork, communication, or carrying out specific tasks like herding, hunting, or guarding. However, studies demonstrate that they may be trained to carry out tasks akin to those done by dogs and can recognize and react to human delicate social cues.
It’s unlikely that we would require a cat to “walk well” on a lead or to behave properly in a bar. Additionally, cats normally require less assistance than dogs to learn how to use the toilet – just the correct litter box is usually enough.
But if we simply consider teaching pets to make our lives easier, we are missing a trick. We at Cats Protection, Daniel Cummings, and I would contend that there are a variety of potential advantages for cats as well. Training can be a helpful strategy in a rehoming shelter, for instance, to boost a cat’s exploratory behaviors, favorable attitudes to people, and possibly even their chances of being adopted.
Simple approaches can be employed at home to assist cats to become used to automobile rides, feeling at ease in cat carriers, and tolerating grooming as well as routine medical exams and treatments. Additionally, such training can make it easier for cats to handle doctor visits.
What works: Cats must be introduced to soft, warm handling beginning at the age of two weeks because they are not born with an intrinsic affection for humans and must learn that we are friends rather than enemies. There is some evidence to suggest that kittens are more perceptive to our social cues, which may make them easier to train. In order to teach them not to bite our hands or feet, kittens should also be played with utilizing cat wands or fishing rod toys.
Punishments like yelling, hard treatment, or using a water spray can cause stress and deteriorate the quality of the relationship between the owner and the cat. Always utilize constructive criticism (such as treats and praise).
Not only is this the best method for training pets, but it’s also better for their health.
A cat can learn to enter a carrier on their own or to sit quietly while we administer flea treatment using reward-based training methods. Some extremely sociable, food-driven cats could take pleasure in learning to spin, sit, or give a high five.
However, cats frequently lack the motivation that dogs do to listen to us or comply with our requests, especially when they are uncomfortable. These elements might help to explain why so much research involving teaching cats to recognize social cues from humans have significant drop-out rates.
When we begin any training with the cat, it’s crucial to make sure they are in a comfortable environment. Make sure the cat can leave at any time or stop the session whenever they choose, and if they seem uncomfortable, try to give them a break. The cat’s head turning away, nose licking, head shaking, a raised paw, abrupt episodes of self-grooming, seeming hunched or tense, a twitching or thumping tail, and rotated or flattened ears are among the warning signs to watch out for.
They’re with a blanket: Teach your cat to lie down on a blanket in a location where they already feel secure. To accomplish this, use food to entice the cat onto the blanket.
Depending on what your cat enjoys the most—more goodies, petting, or verbal praise—reward the cat for remaining on the blanket. Feed the cat treats at nose height to get them to sit, then at ground level to get them to squat and eventually lay down on the blanket.
Identify the carrier: Put the blanket on the bottom of a carrier with the lid off once your cat has completed step one. Repeat the same steps for entice and reward.
Set the pace with your cat: Place the door on the carrier once your cat has calmly entered it and is inside, but keep it open at first so that your cat doesn’t feel instantly trapped. When they want to, let them get out of the carrier, and then use rewards to get them back in. Give the cat a treat each time you open and close the door in short, deliberate movements. Build this up gradually until the cat feels at ease and the door can be totally closed (for just a few seconds at first). Through the closed door, give the cat some snacks.
Nearly there: Work to extend the time the cat spends in the carrier with the door closed by a few seconds each time. Continue rewarding the cat by slipping treats through the carrier’s sides or door, extending the interval between treats progressively. A maximum of a few minutes should be spent on each training session, and some cats may prefer to have just one session per day. Before this last step is finished, it may take numerous sessions and several days or weeks.