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Hanford Veterinary Hospital

Tips on Training Your Cat and Improving their Behavior

Cat being petted on the head

September 6, 2021 by Hanford Veterinary Hospital

Cats definitely have minds and personalities of their own, and these personalities seem like they are pretty set in stone. Most cat owners think that kitty makes the rules and there is no point in even trying to train your cat, but your friends at Hanford Veterinary Hospital are here to tell you that not only is it possible, but it is not as difficult as you might think.

Use Your Time Effectively

Although cats are very intelligent, they have very short attention spans, which means long, drawn-out training sessions will not benefit you or them. The most important element of cat training is consistency, so even if you are only working with your kitty for five minutes a day, as long as you are taking five minutes each day, he or she should start to learn. You should also only focus on one cat behavior at a time. If you are simultaneously trying to train your kitty to use the litter box and to stop biting, your efforts will probably be wasted. Put one behavior at the center of your training focus until your cat has mastered it, then move onto another. 

Training Your Cat with Positive Reinforcement

Cats, just like humans, thrive on positive feedback, so if you want them to learn something, help them realize when they have achieved what you want with some positive reinforcement. Whether this means doling out some extra head scratches, providing a small treat, or even using a training clicker, pairing good results with the same positive reinforcement will help your cat learn the behavior you are trying to teach. Try to avoid using negative reinforcement or punishment as your kitty is working to learn new tasks, or this could increase stress and anxiety.

Start Small with Behavior Correction

Before you get too excited with your training, it is important to see if your cat has mastered the fundamentals. If your cat displays any of the following bad behaviors, you should start your training journey here:

  • Not using the litter box properly

  • Biting

  • Scratching furniture

  • Jumping on furniture 

Once your cat has mastered these basics and his or her behavior improves dramatically, you might want to move onto some more advanced training tricks like teaching kitty to come when called, to sit on command, or even to high-five you.

If you need help with training, the team at Hanford Veterinary Hospital is always here as a resource. To learn more about our veterinary services or to schedule an appointment, please call (559) 584-4481.