If you are privileged enough to be owned by a cat, then you surely know cats tend to run the show. However, with the right technique, a few treats, and a lot of patience, you can teach your cat a few tricks that are not only entertaining, but can also make life as a cat parent a little easier.
Positive Reinforcement is Key
Unlike children, or even dogs, cats don’t understand discipline or how to connect your punishment to their behavior. What you see as tough love, your cat sees as a scary, irrational outburst. This can actually stress your poor cat out, leading to serious health problems in the future.
Instead of yelling or clapping or throwing water in your kitty’s face, invest in a clicker (even a clicking pen will do) and your kitty’s favorite treats. The secret is in the click. When your cat obeys a command, hears a click and gets a treat, he will eventually associate his good behavior with the tasty reward.
Train Your Cat to Come on Command
If you’re one of those people (let’s face it, we all are) who has a specific “cat voice”, you know that cats can learn to respond to certain vocal cues. Capitalize on this by introducing a distinctive sound before you feed your cat, so it will learn that your weird noises actually mean the promise of food. Then try it outside of feeding times, using the clicker-and-treat-method to encourage your cat to come running when you call.
This could come in handy next time your speed demon cat makes a break for it when someone opens the front door.
Train Your Cat to Use a Toilet
Imagine the possibilities—no more scooping, no more stinky litter box, no more cat litter, period! Here’s how it’s done: start by placing the litter box beside the toilet. Next, begin to gradually raise the litter box so it eventually ends up on top of the toilet seat. The next step is to fit a litter box inside the toilet—with flushable litter—using less and less until your cat gets used to doing his business on the throne where he rightly belongs. Voila!
Train Your Cat to Shake a Paw or Beg
Easy, peasy. Armed with a treat, tap your cat’s paw and say “shake”, keeping your clicker and treat ready for when he moves his paw. Repeat until kitty offers his paw in reply to your “shake” command without the need for a tap out.
The begging trick is similar. Hold a treat above your kitty’s head and say “beg” until it reaches up on his hind legs for the treat. Give a click, followed by a treat, and keep practicing until your cat begs on command without a treat dangling overhead.
Remember to reward your fab feline for putting on a good show—and just don’t let the dog see the kitty moving in on his act!