Training a cat may sound like a pointless or daunting task, but teaching your young cat to pay attention to you will make it easier to get them in safely at night (to avoid accidents on the road), and help you to bond.
Why would you train a cat?
Cats derive their whole concept of safety from being in complete control of their environment. When you take them somewhere, such as to see the vet, you are taking them out of their comfort zone. A relaxed cat is much easier for a vet to examine.
Getting used to being handled
Training your cat to be handled can help take away a lot of the stress of vet visits. Moreover, it can help strengthen your relationship with your pet.
You can get your cat used to being touched by gently massaging the ears, lifting the paws up gently and raising the tail.
These are all sensitive areas for your cat, so don’t forget to use healthy cat treats as a reward.
Hands aren’t prey
Cat play is vital but remember that all such play is predatory behaviour, aimed at inanimate objects.
So when your cat is young, be careful with using your hands during play, as they may receive an unexpected attack! Give your cat a toy instead – or simply scrunch up a piece of paper into a ball for them to play with.
Cats are socially independent
Most cats’ idea of sociability is to come into the kitchen, meow, and walk out again.
Owners tend to interpret this as a request for food, and feed the cat. It’s natural that the cat then expects to be fed every time he or she meows.
Learn to respect your cat’s social behaviour – and don’t feed it every single time they meow.
Watch the signals
Owners often expect cats to tolerate handling and don’t realise that their pet likes to be in control.
Don’t force your cat to sit on your lap. Give your pet the freedom to walk away and watch out for signals that they might be stressed, including over-grooming themselves or forgetting their toilet habits.
If their tail is twitching or their pupils are dilating, then you need to give them some space.
It’s possible to train a cat to come to you in much the same way that you would a dog. Call your pet’s name and as they come towards you, offer a treat. Repeat as often as you can. This can be a useful way of getting their attention and reinforcing your relationship.
It is also invaluable training if you want to call your cat in at night to minimise the risk of a traffic accident, which can occur when a cat is dazzled by car headlights.