Training a young cat sounds like a tall order, but what about a senior or adult cat? Is it even possible? There’s good news. The experts say you CAN teach your old cat new tricks! Maybe you’ve adopted an older cat, or perhaps you’re just looking for a fun way to bond with your best pal and help her get some exercise.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you along the way.
Dogs vs. Cats
Dog training is nothing new. If you get a puppy, you’re expected to train it. If your dog is having behavioral issues, you start surfing the web for guidance., pick up a book or tow, or call a friend or a local dog trainer…
But what about cats?
Start in Your Own Environment
It begins at home.
Most cats prefer staying in their own environment. If you’ve visited one of our clinics with your feline friend, you’ve probably got an ear full of her vocalizing on the way there!
While most dogs can be happy pretty much anywhere, your cat will be happier and more relaxed if you train her right at home.
Set your cat up to succeed by keeping your expectations reasonable. Start with basic commands that your cat can learn quickly. You’ll both be motivated to go further in the training fame and no one will get bored or frustrated.
Tools of the Trade
Try motivating your felines friend with treats she really enjoys. Freeze-dried chicken, fresh tuna, or anything she is partial to will work. Keep the bites small.
Using a clicker training device to make learning faster and easier. You can pick one up for just a few dollars at a local pet supply store or online.
Beginning training with a recall command can be very rewarding and even lifesaving.
Should Fluffy ever escape, you’ll have more of a shot at getting her to return. Start training at a time of the day when your cat will be hungry.
Leave a distance of about two feet between you and your cat. Decide on a short verbal cue, like “Tiger, Come!” And immediately reward Tiger when she comes to you. Cats learn from repetition, so repeat the exercise a few times.
As your cat succeeds, gradually increase the distance between you.
Try 10-20 repetitions each day.
Keep in mind that even the best-trained pet in the world should still be microchipped and wearing a collar and ID tag! We’ve made it easy and even free in many cases. Learn more here.
Walk it Out
You can teach your cat to walk on a leash. First, choose a harness designed for cats. Leave it where your cat is happiest for a few days, so he can get used to it.
Next, put the harness on your cat, but don’t attach the leash yet. Immediately distract him with tasty treats or his dinner. Leave the harness on only until he’s finished with the food, so he learns to associate it with things he likes. Finally, attach the leash while giving him treats. GO SLOWLY!
Practice walking your cat indoors by dropping treats and encouraging him to follow you. When your feline friend seems comfortable, take him for a short spin in the great outdoors. Remember to start slowly – maybe just strolling around your front or back yard a few times before trying to tackle the noise and commotion of a busy street. Slow and steady wins this particular race!
Next level cat training – Welcome to the potty
We won’t teach you how here, but it is very possible to teach your cat to use the toilet. And flush it afterward. It may seem like a lofty goal, but what a potty trick!
If you’re finding that you and your cat are enjoying learning, pick up one of these great books to learn more:
Remember, every cat is different when it comes to what rewards are motivating and how hard they will work to learn something new, so don’t give up if your first try doesn’t stick immediately.
Clicker Training for Cats Fun Kit by Karen Pryor
Teaching Your Cat Simple Tricks by Arden Moore
Cat Behavior and Training: Veterinary Advice for Owners by Ackerman, Landsberg, and Hunthausen
Good Owners, Great Cats by Kilcommons and Wilson
Once you find a flow that works, keep it moving and watch your cat continue to grow.