As more people see cats in movies and on shows like "America's Got Talent" there is more understanding that cats can be trained. The process is different from any other kind of training. A dog can generally be forced to do certain things through punishment, although this isn't an ideal training method. A horse can be trained to do some tricks with food and that works on some cats, but some are too finicky about food to go that route. Even so, cat training is a little more like horse training in that you still have to get the animal to want to do what you are asking. A horse can only be pushed so far without actual desire because they outweigh the trainer by a ton! A cat may not outweigh the trainer, but they have a will of a ton of iron. Cats can starve themselves if they want to, so you can be guarantee that they can ignore your commands.
I can go into more about how to train a cat in another post, but some average cat owners may wonder why you would really care about training cats. They go potty in litter boxes on their own and left to their own devices, many are fairly reasonable pets. (There are some breeds and hybrids that might not be "reasonable" but an average domestic house cat will get along if given the basics and left mostly alone.) An owner may not have any interest in taking a cat on stage or putting a cat in the movies.
Here's the thing: You don't have to just live with everything a cat does. Cats do care about pleasing people up to a point, though the degree may vary! Most cats are also motivated by either food, treats, toys or praise. Unlike a dog, though, you have to figure out which things they like and sometimes those things shift from day to day. It's a little more effort, but it can be really worth it. If a "stage cat" can understand how to jump, climb and hop on command, any cat can understand some basic commands. Your daily life might be improved by some commands like "Get down," "Get up," "Crate" and more. It's really up to you how far you want to go with it, because if a cat is motivated it will happen. Again, remember, if you want a cat that does what you ask with some pleasure, you can't teach with punishment except in the most dangerous situations.
Cat Training is Fun!
You can use any words that you want for the things you want to teach. I started out with "Get down" and I repeatedly put my cats on a chair and gave them a high-value treat for hopping down when I said those words. Now I can tell them "Get down" if they are counter surfing or on some new furniture and they will generally do it. I reinforce again with treats often to keep them motivated, but they don't require a treat every single time because they know they get a treat most of the time. I also taught mine to climb up things on command in case I'm working with a big dog in the space they are in. I taught them to enter a crate on command for trips to the vet or rides in the car. They don't love the crate, but they will enter it gladly for a reward and they seem to have learned it is a pretty safe space.
Try it out and train your cat for some basics to make your life with cats a bit better and to give your cats some fun! If you enjoy cat training, maybe you'll be next on the Late Show! If you don't, you'll still have a cat that is easier to live with. Have fun!
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