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Cat Training

 

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"Excuse me... what kind of training did you say??"

 

 

 

 

 

You know... I think you can get a little carried away with this cat training stuff!!

 

 

Cord Protectoricon 

When kittens are young they need to exercise their teeth as they grow and electrical cords are a tempting target for chewing on. If this is a problem, wrap your electrical lines with a Cord Protectoricon

 

 

ScatMaticon 

There are many safe & non-toxic aids to help with feline behavior problems until you can have some cat training sessions. I'm not in favor of punishment techniques for training, but this Contech Scat Mat Automatic Indoor Cat Training Maticon can help reinforce training against unwanted behavior. Just remember that the kitchen counter is where food is prepared and your cat knows it. She'll be looking for left-over scraps, so determine if her diet is adequate for her needs. If she's satisfied, she's probably just curious and will eventually lose interest

 

 

Comfort Zone with Feliway Sprayicon 

When cats find themselves in a stressful situation, such as a move to a new home or the introduction of new pets, she may show some very bad territory defining behavior such as spraying and scratching. That's when a stress reliever is called for like Farnam Comfort Zone with Feliway Spray.icon Using feline facial pheromones to reduce stress, this product is best thought of as a "spot" deterrent to spraying and scratching

 

 

 

A wide range of socialization experiences as a kitten results in an adult cat that is well adjusted to the varieties of life's offerings... and kittens will accept cat training more easily than an adult cat will

 

 

Zukes Hip Action for Cats Chicken Flavor icon

Older cats like treats, too. So, treating your aging feline gives you the opportunity to help her maintain good health. Zukes Hip Action for Cats icon prevents the common symptoms of feline hip and joint pain such as arthritis and stiffness from old age. She may not be in training anymore, but she'll still be looking for the reward!

 

 

 

 

Cat Training is Possible.

But, Do You Need the Patience of a monk?

 

 

Cat Training... is it really herding cats?
No one will argue with the difficulty of cat training. The thought of cat training seems for many to be counter-intuitive. Fewer sayings have more clarity than the metaphor "herding cats" and how it applies to tasks of near impossibility. The reputation of our feline friend's strong will and their independent nature is certainly well documented by many aspiring cat owners, as well as the subject of anecdotal folklore.

When you think about it, though, do you really need to train a cat? Cats are a complete package. They're neat and clean, with impeccable grooming habits. They have a sophisticated dignity that prevents them from being confused with Fido and his unfettered, somewhat clumsy, leaping-on -you-at-every-opportunity antics. Muddy feet and all. He's begging for attention. Your cat wants attention, too. She's just a bit more subtle about it. When it comes to cat training, the challenge is for one to be more cerebral than you might expect. Dogs have an endearing drive to please. Cats demand respect. Or so it seems.
So, the question remains. Do cats really need training? Well, yes... and no. No, you don't have to teach her to be clean or groom herself. Yes, training may be necessary because her instinctual habits may not always be something that you want to live with, such as using the couch as her personal scratching post, or your shoes for a bathroom. And, she can use a little assistance with self-cleaning and grooming. Cat training is best begun when a cat is still a kitten. Older cats are trainable, but if you start your cat training while she's still young, in he long run it's easier and the results will last a lifetime.

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Behavior Problems that Call for Training
There are times when a well trained cat makes difficult, unexpected or even ordinary daily challenges so much easier to face. Many of a cat's so called "bad behavior" are couched in the basic nature of a cat. That's why it's so important for people to understand the world through the cat's eyes. The success of any training program is made more rewarding if one has a knowledge of cat behavior . Some identified behavior related problems are:

  • Litter Box Use... or non-use
    Usually there are just a few reasons your cat stops using her litter box and the number 1 reason cats stop using the litter box is that the litter isn't clean, at least in her eyes. Litter should be cleaned often (scooped out and fresh litter added as necessary). If not every day, then every other day at least. She should step on clean litter each time she wants to use it. Once or twice a week the entire box should be emptied and washed thoroughly, then refilled with clean litter.

Stress. Cats don't handle stress well. New members of the household (human or animal) coming in, moving to a new location, other animals in the neighborhood, children home on summer vacation. Any change in 'normal' routine can produce stress in your cat. The best antidote for her is calm, soothing reassurance from you that everything will be ok But, you may want to limit her access to the entire house until it's determined what the source of her stress is. When it's been addressed, she can then be allowed to roam as freely as she had in the past.

Urinary tract problems can cause her to stop using her litter box. This is a problem that you will need to discuss with your veterinarian. The signs for these kinds of problems are indicated by changes in her elimination habits and/or pain when she eliminates.

Litter boxes need to be located in an accessible place for her. Avoid rooms where there's a chance of the door being closed to her access. If the house is multi-cat, you may need more than one box. She should feel safe when using the box (no young kitten jumping her unexpectedly). Safe, free access will invite her to use the litter box whenever and every time she needs to.

Older cats will train their kittens how to use the litter box. Cat's learn by observing and when the kitten sees mom or dad use the box, they will, too. It seems, though, that cats know what a litter box is used for almost instinctively. I have brought home a new kitten, placed her in the box immediately and she goes right to work. Probably because mom did a good job of cat training. And since I don't like the smell of a full litter box, it gets changed at least every other day. More often is she is especially active.

  • Biting and Aggression
    It's important to be realistic and patient when applying any kind of cat training. You shouldn't push your cat beyond her limits or get frustrated because she doesn't live up to your expectations. Give her some consideration... don't expect her to change just to suit you. Besides, she probably won't.

    Cats usually give warning signs that they are going to bite. Notice her body language because she will tell you when she is getting overly stimulated or irritated. Usually the ears will flatten, she will turn and stare at you, her eyes may become dilated, or her tail will start to flick. Her next step will probably be to bite and claw. Stop before this step... duh!

    Don't expect your cat to be accepting of a sudden house full of noisy rambunctious kittens, dogs or children if she has lived her life in a nice quiet, tidy home.

    Cat training to stop play biting is relatively easy with both adult cats and kittens. It's possible to train older cats to accept situations without reacting aggressively. It just takes longer and requires more of your patience.

    Sometimes it's OK to take the path of least resistance. Instead of trying to re-socialize an aggressive cat when a visitor brings their dog or child along, don't try to break down her territorial barrier, accept it, respect it and have your friends respect it, too. Life is too short to go on a crusade for the sake of your ego.
    • Play biting is an extension of a cat's predatory nature. The play sharpens their instincts to hunt and catch prey. Most cats, adult and kitten, can be trained not to play bite. Simply end a play session if the biting becomes uncomfortable for you. The sudden ending of play on your part teaches kitty that she has gone too far and will eventually resist crossing that threshold in the future. DON'T punish her... that will only teach her to fear you.

    Aggression based in fear is usually a sign that a cat wasn't properly socialized as a kitten. Even properly socialized cats have there limits. if a cat doesn't like strangers or bath time, she may demonstrate aggressive behavior. All it takes is one bad experience for a kitten and she will live with that fear all her life.

    The problem is that when she sees the aggressive act is successful in warding off a threat, she will show aggression again. She is rewarded for her aggressive display and it becomes even more difficult to change. But, change through cat training is still possible.

    • Territory and self-protective aggression is another trait that can be easily addressed when a cat is young. Part of the socialization process of a kitten should be to have her get used to people, strangers included, and other pets entering into her "space". When she learns to share her territorial space as a kitten, she will do so as an adult
    • While quiet petting and rubbing can seem like an endless pleasure for a dog, a cat can reach a limit to such activities. She will reach out and "bite the hand that pets her". The moods of a cat can change almost instantly. When she's had enough, that's it. No more. "I'm outta here" she seems to say. There's really no cat training available for this kind of behavior. And really no need for it. The training is for you to leave her alone when she is tired of the activity.

    Continuous over-stimulation can get a cat sexually excited. Aggression of this nature is normal and related to the aggression exhibited during sexual arousal.

    • Finally, aggressive biting behavior can have medical reasons behind it. Sudden changes in behavior are not normal for cats and and might indicate that your cat needs to see her veterinarian. Note any changes in her diet or litter box habits. Give her a home inspection of her skin and hair coat and discuss anything you find unusual with your vet.

Teach your cat to enjoy being touched and handled so he doesn't feel threatened, defensive or irritated. Start the lessons when your cat is relaxed. Begin by handling him in ways he finds pleasurable. Scratch behind his ears and stroke the top of his head. Lengthen the strokes to include more of his body. Stroke down his back, down the hind legs and tail. Stroke along the side of his body. See if he will roll onto his side or completely roll over to accept a tummy rub. Use plenty of praise, reassurance and an occasional food treat. Work slowly and gradually increase the area of his body that may be stroked.

Within a very short handling session, you will be able to locate your cat's sensitive spots that will require additional careful attention. Usually these are the mouth, paws, ears and tail. When working with sensitive areas, touch your cat for just one second and immediately reward him with his favorite food treat. Then touch him for two seconds. Gradually increase the time of contact required for a food treat. Your cat will learn to happily tolerate prolonged contact in these areas.

How to Stop Kitty from Biting while being Handled
Essentially, you want your cat to not feel threatened or irritated while she is being handled. Begin this cat training when your cat is relaxed, then handle her in ways she will find pleasant. Scratch behind his ears; stroke the top of her head. Then lengthen the strokes down her back and include her hind legs and tail. Stroke her sides and see if she will roll onto her side ,or better yet, see if she will roll completely over to accept a tummy rub. All the while give her lots of praise & reassurance. If she looks like she is reaching a tolerance threshold, give her a reward treat. Work slowly. Gradually increase the area of her body that she will allow your to stroke.

It won't take you long to locate your cat's sensitive spots. They will require special and careful attention. Normally, these areas are the mouth, paws, ears and tail. Touch your cat for just one second and immediately reward her with a favorite food treat. After a while, touch her for two seconds followed with a treat. Gradually increase the time of contact required for a food treat.

This process should have her looking forward to you touching her, even in the most sensitive areas.

And, no biting!

  • Hyperactivity
  • Bouncing off the walls and ceilings is normal activity for cats and kittens. Chasing invisible mice, lurking in hiding places to leap at your ankles or imagined prey are usual activities associated with cats acting out their hunting and catching instincts. Sometimes, more can be at play than meets the eye:
    • Bored or lonely cats need to release pent up energy especially if they are indoors all the time and don't have real mice to chase or real trees to climb.
    • Caterwauling and frenzied behavior are characteristics displayed by un-spayed females in heat or un-neutered males responding to a female in heat.

Solutions to these problems are quite easy. For bored, lonely cats take some time to give them attention. Play with them regularly and provide toys for them to play with when you aren't around. That's why you have a cat, right? A pet to keep you company? She needs company, too.

Caterwauling frenzies call for a trip to the veterinarian or spay/neuter clinic. There's no excuse for this activity to be happening if one is a responsible pet owner.

  • Furniture Scratching
    Scratching your furniture is one of the most annoying habits a cat can have. Your furniture can be left in ruins. But, scratching is a fundamental activity of being a cat. Scratching removes dead skin from cat's claws, stretches her front quarters, marks her territory and leaves her contentedly satisfied. You're not going to stop her from scratching, but you can provide an alternative and make the spot she had been using unpleasant.

Cat furniture such as a carpet or sissal covered scratch pole can be placed in her favorite corner of the room. Then make her old spot unpleasant by covering it with loose netting, double stick tape or spray it with mild menthol or citrus scents. Now, you can begin to train her. You might have to entice her to move to the new scratch spot. Place treats at the top of the pole, rub it with catnip and hang dangling toys from it.

By making the desired scratch spot attractive, you will be making the old spot even more unattractive. Praising and rewarding her for good behavior will reinforce her good behavior activities.

  • Hey!!!... who's been nibbling on the rhododendron??
    Eating house plants is not only a nuisance, but dangerous. Many common house plants are poisonous to cats. So, why do cats eat house plants. No one is certain why kitty likes to nibble on the greenery. Some conjecture that they're looking for nutrients not found in their diet. Others think that eating grasses encourages vomiting or diarrhea which is a way to cleanse the cat's dietary system of toxins. But, the driving mechanism is not really known, though there's probably some truth to the reasons given above.

Through cat training house plant eating behavior can be corrected. Better yet, your cat's plant eating habit can be redirected to plants that are really good for her. She will enjoy:

  • Grasses such as rye, alfalfa and wheat
  • Catnip and valerian
  • Herbs like parsley and thyme

Once you have plants she enjoys in place, it'll be time to train her to leave the other plants alone. Do this by removing them to a room she doesn't have access to. Then reintroduce them one or two at a time. But, when they are reintroduced, wipe the leaves of the "off-limits" plants with Bitter Apple or Tabasco Sauce. Kitty will soon get the hint. You'll have to re-wipe the leaves from time to time to keep the discouraging taste fresh.

Also, make sure all plants are in wide bottom pots that aren't tipped easily. If she is digging in the pots, cover the dirt surface with rough gravel or rocks to make the digging habit unpleasant.

  • Spraying

  • Male cats, neutered or not, can be notorious sprayers. Usually the cause is either a dirty litter box or territory marking. If you suspect he is rejecting the litter box look for ways to make it more inviting. Clean it daily, using less litter to be conservative, and clean it with a diluted lemon solution. Urine leaves a slight ammonia odor and is uninviting to a cat. So, if you are cleaning with a cleaner that is ammonia based, you could be defeating the purpose of a litter box because it will be rejected by the cat.

    You may have to re-train a cat to use his litter box. Watch for when he does use it and when he does, reward him with a treat and lots of praise. Looking for a reward for using the litter box can be great motivation for getting him "back in the box".

    If he is marking his territory, he may be having an identity crisis. He could be feeling insecure because of a recent move, a new cat or other pet in the home, or if you have moved into a new home and the previous owners had cats, he may smell their scents and be trying to over-ride their odors. If any of these or similar reasons are the cause, give him lots of praise and reassurance to help him restore his confidence. Play with him, massage him, talk to him, give him toys and treats but, do everything possible to rebuild his self esteem.

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Smart Trainers Understand a Few Basic Principles:

Punishment and reprimands don't work
Other than doing things that are instinctual, such as scratching, bad cat behavior is usually a call for attention. If you respond to a bad act by yelling, with anger or punishment, she'll only continue when you aren't around... still calling for attention. In that case if you punish her, the punishment is only applied after the fact. The association of the bad act with punishment isn't made in the kitty mind. More importantly, a relationship built on punishment creates fear between the cat and her owner. This isn't just bad cat training, it's not cat training at all.

Good behavior gets the reward
Cat training should be a method that sets your cat up to succeed. If she does something that is considered good, she needs to be rewarded and praised by you. She'll quickly learn that good behavior yields a tasty treat as well as your praise. She'll like that association. A treat and positive verbal response from you will build trust and deepen the friendship bond with her.

Bad behavior needs to be an unpleasant experience such as a bad taste when she bites an off-limits house plant. And for cat training to succeed she will need a good habit alternative, for which she knows there is a reward, to the bad behavior she needs to abandon.

Give her attention
Your cat enjoys interactive activities with you, and attention from you. Speak to her when she comes into the room. Welcome her presence in your home by acknowledging her as a full member of the family. Schedule play time with her to keep her from getting bored and have a supply of cat toys around. Change her litter on a regular basis and perform some cat grooming with her. Most importantly, praise her and reward her, especially when she is acting out good behavior.

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Clicker Cat Training
A force-free method that develops a relationship of trust, response and communication with your cat

Clicker Cat Training sessions can get sedentary cats to become more active, and, aggressive cats more calm and relaxed. Play and cute activities will be more enjoyable for both of you. The time spent interacting with her through Clicker Cat Training will be looked forward to, breaking up the usual (and painfully dull) routines that inactivity, complacency and boredom can bring. You may love being with your cat, but doing things together is much more fun and healthier, both physically and emotionally, than just sitting around, eating and sleeping. (Non-activities associated especially with indoor cats).

Here are some of the things your cat can accomplish through Clicker Cat Training:

  • Playing without scratching and biting
  • Walking on a leash
  • Getting along with other pets
  • Stay off the table (or kitchen counter)
  • Come when she is called
  • Wait patiently as you prepare her meals
  • Permit grooming and handling without struggling

If you have some cat furniture designed for her activities, you will be able to play right along with her. Which can be a lot more fun than just sitting and watching. And, of course, you can teach her cute parlor tricks and games. You know... "roll over, kitty", "shake", etc.

The founder of Clicker Training is Karen Pryor, a behavioral biologist with an international reputation. Her Clicker Training methods are used to train many pets and animals from cats, dogs, birds and horses to dolphins and whales. There is no question that her methods for cat training of positive reinforcement and coercion-free training produce endearing and healthy results for human-animal relationships. You can read about these training concepts in her book "Clicker Training for Cats". It is pleasantly surprising how simple yet effective this training method is. And, the best part about it? You will develop genuine communication with your cat.

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Look Who's Listening in...
Overhearing this, Alexander, our very well behaved and gentile Abyssinian, pondered the upcoming visit from his brother who is well known for his wild Serengeti habits.

"Now, I know that my brother won't be allowed to jump on the dining table with his 300 lb, dust matted mane and fur", he winched. "But, with a little cat training, we just might be able to instill some good manners".

Yet, he wondered, "I really do hope he can learn to sit still as our dinner is being prepared. He's used to getting first choice at the Gnu Buffet back in Africa..."

"and where are we going to get a litter box big enough for HIM?!?"

Alexander's brother may prove to be a bit of a challenge. But, your cat or kitten will probably respond most readily to patient, thoughtful and persistent cat training.

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Communicate with your cat? Sure, you can do it! It's not as hard as you might think if you think outside the box of the verbal exchange that usually goes on between people. There are intuitive ways for people and animals to communicate with each other and if you learn the language, your relationship with your cat will take on new dimensions

 

Uphaus Free-Range Real Meat Treats for Dogs and Cats icon 

During cat training sessions she'll get a lot of treats for being so good. You'll want them to be healthy like Uphaus Free-Range Real Meat Treats. iconThese treats are soft, moist, organic free-range meats. Think lo-fat without extra calories. Great for special treating such as during training sessions

 

When you provide your kitty with a pleasant alternative to scratching the furniture, she'll gladly take to it with the right encouragement. The Modern Critter Cat Scratcher offers kitty the options of either horizontal or vertical scratching pleasure. Click to see other styles of scratcher's

 

Ssscaticon 

While your away, a little help would be appreciated to help control bad cat behavior. Ssscat Automated Cat Deterrenticon makes bad behavior unpleasant without unnecessary punishment by using spray technology and a motion detector to protect indoor areas or objects from cats within a radius of one meter.

 

 

Whoops!!... I'll bet there's no treat for this trick!

 

This is where cat training begins. Clicker Training uses positive reinforcing, non-coercive methods that build trust between you and your cat, this manual is a refreshing alternative to yelling and chasing your cat... which does nothing but teach her to fear you

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