Cat Training - The Basics
If you have ever tried to train a cat or any pet, you have probably realized that it isn't the simplest process. Training a cat is not the same thing as training a dog, as cats are not performance pets like dogs can be. There are three rules to follow when training a cat; reward, praise, and positive reinforcement. If you can learn how to use these rules and how to apply them to your cat's training, you will be able to teach your cat simple tricks – and perhaps even toilet train it!
Basic cat training tries to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. Anything you want your cat to do should be rewarding, enjoyable, and pleasant. Likewise, those things you don't want your cat to do should be unpleasant, not enjoyable, and should never be rewarded. It is important to remember that reprimands don't work in cat training. Punishment will only cause the cat to mistrust you and to repeat the bad behavior, when you are not around. Sometimes cats won't align the crime with the punishment and act out with another bad behavior.
Training will require time and diligence. You should never stray from your routine. If a cat has a pleasant experience when he does something, and is rewarded with food or praise, you can bet he will repeat this behavior. So, help your feline friend achieve a desired behavior, such as litter box training, with this in mind. When litter box training, you can control what your cat takes in and determine where it comes out. A short time after eating, take your cat in an enclosed room with the litter box. Make him sit in the box. When he has used the litter box, provide plenty of oral praise and hugs, maybe even a little treat, and your little friend will get the point. Soon he won't need to be kept in the box to achieve the desired result.
No one wants their cats to use their new couch as a scratching post. Of course, initially, they really don't know any better, so make it an unpleasant experience. Cats don't like to get their claws caught up in anything, so cover the bottom of your sofa with netting. The cat will realize this is not any fun and retreat to his scratching post. Once again, positive reinforcement with the good behavior is key.
As important as it is to reward good behavior, it is also as important not to reward bad behavior. If your cat does something you don't like, don't give him a treat to divert him from the bad behavior. He will associate the improper behavior with rewards and continue to do it. Instead, ignore him or squirt him with water. He will get your point. Also, keep in mind that sometimes a cat will behave badly to get attention. So be sure to schedule regular playtime with your feline and provide them with plenty of toys.
Once you've accomplished the basics in training, you can teach your cat to do many things. They have been taught to sit, lay, walk on a leash and, as mentioned before, even potty trained. Your well-behaved cat will be the envy of all.