Many pet owners believe the misconception that their cat cannot be trained. The loyal dog? Sure. The intelligent parrot? Of course. The independent feline? No way!
Nothing could be further from the truth. With a little know-how and a lot of patience, you kitty can be the model of obedience.
Here's a guide to help teach your cat the basics:
Training your cat to sit follows the same basic procedure as training a dog to do the same thing. Get down on your cat's level, placing one hand under its rear, where the legs join the body, and the fingers of the other hand under its collar. Lift the collar slightly and tuck the hindquarters in until the cat is in a sitting position. Say "sit", emphasizing the "t", as you perform these two motions simultaneously.
Begin by positioning yourself several feet away from your pet. Call your cat, using its name, and make sure you have some sort of positive reinforcement ready. When the cat comes, praise and reward it. If the cat does not come, simply ignore it; never yell at or punish your cat. Eventually, you can move further and further away from your kitty and it will still come to you. By the time your cat has mastered this command, you should be able to call it from across the house.
This is one of the hardest commands to teach your pet, but also one of the most useful. A cat that knows how to stay won't run out into the street and get hit by a car. Hold your cat firmly by its collar and issue the "stay!" command. Release the cat and again issue the command. You may wish to use the traditional hand signal (extending your palm towards your pet, fingers towards the ground), but it is not necessary. Of course, in the beginning, your cat will not understand and will promptly get up. Do not chastise; simply repeat the process until the cat understands what you want. As always, use some sort of positive reinforcement when kitty does what you want.
Yes, it can be done! Begin by moving your cat's litter box into the bathroom. After several days (when it's used to doing its business in the proper room), move the box right next to the toilet. After a span of another few days, begin to gradually elevate the litter box, using something solid (like a stack of dictionaries). In about a week you should be able to place the litter box on top of the toilet itself. Your cat is now used to the elevation and is ready for the next step. Most pet supply stores sell special pans that hold kitty litter and fit directly into the toilet. Use this for several days until your pet is completely comfortable. Then, remove the pan and allow it to go to the bathroom right in the toilet. It is very important to remember that this process will take several weeks, so be patient!
1. Start when the cat is just a kitten - Young minds are more receptive to training and bad habits have not had a chance to form.
2. Always use positive reinforcement - A hug or a whiff of catnip goes much further than a harsh word.
3. Keep the training short and frequent - Cats don't have very long attention spans, so it is far better to have six 5-minute sessions spaced throughout the day than one 30-minute block of time.
4. Get down on your cat's level - How would you like a 200-foot giant telling you what to do?
5. Stay indoors - This is crucial; you don't want your cat getting distracted or running into the street.