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4 Common Cat Training Mistakes

Avoid these four common cat training mistakes.

Many people don't believe that cats can be trained. It's true; they don't necessarily train the way dogs do. Still, it isn't only possible to train cats, but it can be a rewarding and bonding experience for both of you.

For What Kinds of Things Can Cats Be Trained?

Here are just a few of the things that you can use training for in cats:

  • To stay off counters or other off-limits spots
  • To scratch appropriate posts rather than other belongings
  • To fetch
  • To go calmly into a cat carrier and ride in the car
  • To get along with other pets in your home
  • To walk on a leash
  • To allow claw clipping and Soft Paws® application

Common Cat Training Mistakes

When training a cat, it's important to know a few basic things about them and how they react to efforts to change their behaviors. Here, we've compiled some of the common mistakes that people make with cat training.

  • Using negative reinforcement. Yelling at, hitting, or otherwise harming or acting roughly toward a cat when they are doing something you don't want them to do doesn't work. The kitty won't understand the message you're trying to send about the behavior, but she will develop fear and stress directed toward you. And cats that are fearful and stressed develop negative behaviors like scratching and urinating inappropriately, so your problems will only increase if you engage in negative reinforcement.
  • Failing to use rewards. Cats love to be rewarded, and praising them or giving them a treat when they've done what you want them to do is much more effective than punishing them for what you don't want them to do. If you're trying to get your cat to stop scratching the couch, coax her into scratching the post, and then reward her when she does so. This is positive reinforcement, and it works much better than negative reinforcement.
  • Asking for too much too fast. You must always be patient when training your cat. You aren't going to get lasting results immediately. Training is a process, and it requires consistency and loving patience. Spend 5-10 minutes twice a day on training exercises.
  • Not allowing energy outlets. Cats need to play to get energy out and remain physically and mentally happy. The best kind of play for cats allows them to mimic hunting behaviors. If a cat doesn't get enough of that type of play, not only will inappropriate behaviors increase, but your cat will be less able to focus during training times. Play with your cat with wand toys or rodent toys for 10 minutes once or twice a day. Doing so right before a training session can allow your cat to focus more during the training, too.

Avoid these 4 common mistakes, and have fun training your cat.

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