All the studies agree – your furry little feline friend hears you and understands you perfectly, yet they instead choose to ignore you.
Cats can distinguish their name from all the other nouns, as well as from the names of the other cats in their home. They can also recognize their human companion’s voice, and they know when they are being called.
Surely, they do respond – by slightly turning their head, or by just moving their ears towards the direction of the voice.
Such a subtle reaction is not really what their humans are hoping for. Cats are highly independent and not very social beings. They are not trained to listen and obey to humans, the way dogs are.
They choose when and how to interact with us, and they do it on their own terms.
Unless there is an immediate danger or a real need, they just won’t waste their breath on a trivial behavior, such as approaching you or meowing back when called.
However, if you’re consistent and patient, you can influence the behavior of a kitten or a cat.
Here are a few secrets to begin with.
Ignore Them Back
The truth is, cats are masters when it comes to training – they’ve trained us perfectly well. When we hear that tiny meow in the middle of the night, what else can we do but fill their bowl? We won’t let the poor kitty starve, won’t we?
When he is negligently roaming our kitchen counter, what do we do? We reward him with our reaction, whether it’s by simply yelling “No” or gently removing them from the table. The minute we’re gone, they’re back at it, lying around as nothing happened.
The first step to train your cat is a bit like playing a mind game with the precious little monster and learning how to ignore them back.
It will take a lot of patience, but you need to learn how to ignore the behaviors you’d like to see less of.
Get Some Treats
Besides stoically ignoring the undesirable behavior, focus on inducing desirable actions by using what is called positive reinforcement.
You should reward your cat for something you would like to recur-scratching on a scratch post or approaching to you when you call them.
Cats’ favorite rewards often include various delicious treats, petting, grooming, or their preferred form of interactive play. As each one of the cats is different, you should know your cat well so that you know what kind of reward triggers them.
It’s essential to give the reward immediately after the desired behavior, preferably within 3 seconds, so that you don’t accidentally don’t reward the action that happened after the desired one.
Also, pay attention that you don’t unintentionally give rewards for undesirable behavior. Next time you hear your puss meowing by the bowl at 4 am, remember the first principle and ignore it! Feed it only when they’re not meowing.
Get a Clicker
Cat clicker training can give excellent results when combined with a tasty piece of fish as a desirable reward.
A clicker is commonly used as a training tool for a variety of pets. It’s effective because of a distinctive sound it makes that a cat can easily distinguish from all the others.
The trick is to get your cat to associate the sound of a clicker with the reward that she craves. This will entice your cat to behave in a specific manner so that they can get their treat at the end.
So, when your cat performs the desired behavior, all you need to do is to click and then give her the treat for a job well done.
Always have your treats ready, and never let your click go to waste – make each one of them matter.
If your cat has a hearing problem, you can use the light to form an association in your cat, using a penlight or a flashlight.
Photo by Ernesto Bruschi on Unsplash
Training your cat is a new experience, so make the challenge enjoyable for both of you. There are many great effects of training both you and your cat can benefit from, such as:
giving a pill (without getting injured),
coming to you when she is called,
using a toilet,
walking on a leash,
staying calm while he is being groomed.
However, to achieve great things, begin with the small ones. Practice your clicker and reward system (and your patience too), starting with your cat coming to you at command when you click and call their name.
Start the training but making the distinctive sound right before feeding, so they learn to associate the sound with the food. After a while, start making the sound outside of the regular feeding times, and give your kitten a treat when she approaches you.
Keep in mind that your cats’ attention span is shorter than yours, so don’t expect your training sessions to last longer than 5 minutes. During this time, repeat the behavior up to 20 times. Pay attention to your cats’ behavior, and if you notice that he’s tired or lost interest, call it quits, and repeat the session once more during the day.
Never Punish Your Cat
Even if the training doesn’t seem to be giving results, don’t ever try to discipline and punish your cat – they won’t understand why they are in trouble, and will only feel stressed, reclusive, and afraid.
You would never want to harm the gentle little creature you’re sharing your life with, so naturally, you will avoid any physical corrections of their behavior, such as shakes or slaps.
Your voice shouldn’t sound threatening too, so forget about yelling and always talk to your cat in a calm voice.
If there is any behavior of your cat that you need to redirect right away, such as scratching the furniture, make a quick and sharp noise that will distract your kitty. If you use your voice to make such sound, have a unique phrase for such circumstances, such as “Bam.”
Be patient during the process and lovingly help your feline pal learn. Enjoy the time you spend together, and later on, the benefits the training will bring.
Bily Bum is an electrical engineer, tech, and gaming fan with 15 years of experience in the technology world. He uses every spare moment to workout to stay in shape. With his family and friends, he likes to go camping or picnicking where he enjoys the benefits of nature. He is also a contributor on site Techiezer.