Training Tips for Cats

Contrary to popular belief it is possible to train your cat to do several tricks, and walk on a leash, it may not be easy but it is possible. Training for your kitten should start as soon as you get them home.  Training is a lifetime process, not a quick fix.  Start with name recognition exercises i.e. calling his/her name and rewarding when they respond to it.

House training is very important; this starts with consistency and supervision.  House training for a cat begins with choosing an appropriate litter box for your new family member.  The litter box should be big enough for the size of your cat and deep enough so that your cat will not spread litter around when they scratch it.  There are a variety of litter choices, what you choose depends on your house and your cat.  Remember to keep the litter box clean because your kitten will avoid a messy, smelly litter box.  If possible it is best to scoop out the litter box at least once daily, more if you have several cats.  Empty and wash out the litter pan weekly with soap and water.  It is best not to use strong disinfectants (containing ammonia); they are not necessary and may offend your cat’s sensitive nose.  Use a mild disinfectant such as diluted bleach and water on the litter box about once a month, putting the litter box outside to dry, if possible.  Of course when handling any waste material wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

After your kitten has eaten take and place them in the litter box.  Always reward with calm praise or a small kibble or treat and tell them good kitty. Other times your kitten may need to eliminate are when they wake in the mornings’ after napping, after playing, after having a drink, and just before bedtime.  Realize accidents will happen and you will need patience.  But with calm dedication you will succeed in house training.

Another common issue with kittens is their desire to bite and nip.  Recognize that cats will nip at your hand during play, as they do not differentiate it from any of their other toys. As an owner you need to do teach your kitten that aggressive play is not acceptable. To prevent aggressive play push your hand towards your kitten, pulling away will make your kitten want to hold on tighter.  You can also use a “NO” command if they continue to nip at you or become more aggressive.

Another common problem with cats is scratching.  Cats use scratching as exercise, to clean away dead skin from their nails and to mark their territory, both visually and with their scent.   The biggest problem with scratching is when your kitten chooses to scratch inappropriate items.  By providing a scratching post and redirecting any inappropriate scratching towards it, you will teach your kitten that this is their property and save your furniture.  To encourage use of the scratching post you can spray or rub honeysuckle or cat nip on it to make it more enticing to your cat.

If you are interested in Cat agility we recommend checking out the following website for International Cat Agility, as it gives great tips on how to get started in the sport.

For more help with training please call us, we will be glad to help you.

Here are some additional resources on animal behavior:

Dr. Sophiayin Yin, DMV, MSThe Art and Science of Animal Behavior

Calgary Humane Society – Animal Behavior Help