The most optimistic studies on the relationship between cats and humans place their origin almost 10,000 years ago. During all this time, the felis silvestris catus It has gone on to become one of the most beloved pets. We are fascinated by its elegance, its expertise, its fur and its purring. AND there are not few cats that become irreplaceable members of a family.
But cats are also rebellious, lazy, aggressive, and sometimes unreadable. In short, they do not stop being felines, no matter how many thousands of years they have remained in contact with humans. Their education thus becomes essential for improve coexistence: because yes, it is possible to educate a cat, although you will need a lot of love and patience.
How to train a cat?
For a start, You have to differentiate education from training.. Education is a broader concept that involves teaching your cat to behave in a general way in a home, adapting to the habits and customs that develop in a context controlled by humans.
For its part, training is educating to achieve specific objectives for which we must set some objectives. What do you want to achieve by training a cat? What uses the sandbox? What does not bite? That he learns to use the balcony without risks? Once the specific objectives have been established, it is time to implement a strategy based on the following principles.
The sooner you start, the better
To begin with, we must remember that domestic animals are trained to learn to develop habits and attitudes, as well as instructions and concrete acts through different forms of learning such as non-associative learning, classical conditioning -Pavlov’s- and operant conditioning the so-called associative learning between acts and consequences.
They are somewhat complex concepts that professional trainers master, but it doesn’t hurt to get to know them to improve our work as educators of our animals.
In any case, in the case of cats, the best way to train a cat is to start early. Ideally, the cat should be in contact with its mother and other cats when they are puppies. so that they learn, first, to relate to their peers. But once they get home, don’t rest on your laurels. Once you get used to the space, it’s time to get to work.
Like other animals or humans, the young cat will be more receptive to learning than an older person who has already acquired their own habits, which often clash with those that must be maintained in a house. In any case, it is also possible to educate an adult cat, but we will need a little more patience.
Patience with your cat friend
Patience with a cat is a must. Kittens do not usually seek to please their human friends as a dog would, so your education starts from a more demanding base. You have to show him how the habits he has to acquire are beneficial to him through routine, rewards and, also, our satisfaction. Because cats also want to see us happy: they are not stupid, if we are good, they benefit.
Therefore, being patient with the cat’s education involves establishing short training sessions, trying to get their attention and taking advantage of the moments in which it manifests itself more active (and receptive). In this sense, avoid doing sessions after eating, a phase in which cats usually want to rest.
Without overdoing it and watching its diet, positive reinforcement is always the best weapon for the general education of a cat and for training on specific instructions. When a cat performs a behavior that has a positive consequence, it tends to repeat it., even if there is no direct prize, such as a treat. A caress, a smile, a while to play can be enough “rewards” for him.
And the punishments? The cat must know when it does things wrongA firmer tone of voice helps him understand that he’s done wrong, as well as refusing to pet him, spend time with him, or refuse to give him a treat. However, sometimes cats do not seem to be affected by these punishments or lack of positive reinforcement. But patience do not raise the tone more than necessary or overdo it, sooner or later you will understand that your bad actions have negative consequences. And cats also love to feel comfortable, loved… and caressed.
Understand your nature and personality
If you have already had several cats, you will know that, in essence, they all have similar habits and behaviors: they are cats. But if it’s your first time, you should watch it carefully to get used to it. For example, they are more sensitive to threats and more suspicious than dogs, and they always keep in mind that hunting instinct that characterizes them so much. This observation will help you focus your training sessions more effectively, also adapting to their routines.
However, it is true that each cat has its own personality. And what may work for one may not work for another.. There are cats that are more or less aggressive, more independent, more rebellious, etc. And we have to deal with it, adapting our educational strategies.
Why educate a cat?
A priori, educating and training a cat can be an unstimulating task for tutors because the results are not usually instantaneous and, sometimes, it is difficult to achieve the objectives. But when you achieve them you will realize how essential your persistence and patience have been. So don’t forget that you educate your cat to improve its health, safety and coexistence In your house.
- Using the sandbox properly. It is a basic that your cat must master as soon as possible. Not only is his health protected, but also that of the rest of the inhabitants of the house. But don’t worry, it’s one of the habits that kittens most easily adopt. And it is that they love cleanliness in their territory.
- Go to the vet. If you’ve dealt with a rebellious cat, you know how hard it is to take him to the vet… if he doesn’t like to get into the carrier. So don’t leave it for tomorrow and get him used to using his transport using all the necessary resources. Keep in mind that visits to the vet are essential and the cat must assume the importance of it. But always with patience, without forcing him to get into the carrier: he can get scared and you’re lost. Take it easy… at a cat pace.
- Home care. A cat that feels completely free to do and undo at home destroys your furniture, especially those with seductive fabrics or fabrics for its nails. You will have to teach him sooner rather than later to use his scratching posts, instead of the sofa.
- tolerate the guests. A cat not used to visitors can be surly with new inhabitants, and your friends, partner or family can suffer. And the attacks of “rebel cats” should not be minimized, as indicated by this study.
- avoid dangers. And last but not least, training a cat can literally save your life. Because cats don’t have seven lives, but one, and they must learn to take care of it, although due to their physical characteristics they always seem to us to be highly skilled animals. Do not get into dangerous places in the house, be very careful with windows, balconies and terraces; with cables and ropes, bags and chemical products, are aspects that you should also deal with in your training sessions.
What if my cat doesn’t listen to me?
Well, welcome to the club. Don’t worry too much if your cat doesn’t listen to everything you try to teach him. They are cats and they are a bit bastards. But if all the strategies and resources that you have applied have not achieved their basic objectives, especially regarding aspects such as the use of the litter box or going to the vet, ask for help, first of all, to the veterinarian himself.
This can recommend an ethologist and/or a trainer. Indeed, we are more than used to hearing about the canine trainer, a fully consolidated profession and more so in our time with the proliferation of dogs living with humans. But, Is there a cat trainer? Yes, it exists, although it is still a not established profession. If your cat has you desperate, he looks for a professional.