We focus a lot on dogs here in our little blogosphere, so we wanted to take this opportunity to give a little something extra to the wonderful cat owners out there. Whether you’re bringing in a kitten, or already have an adult cat. Our tips in Cat Training Part One and Part Two will hopefully give you a few pointers on how to make life most comfortable for yourself and for your feline friend.
In Part One below, we’ll focus on biting, scratching, and food issues, and in Part Two, we’ll tackle litter box problems.
First of all, if your cat is having any issues, try to find the underlying problem before taking any other action. If your kitten is acting out, it’s entirely possible that he or she is just in need of some playtime, some extra cuddling sessions, or is having trouble adjusting to something new such as a new home, litter box, food, or other family members.
Cats are a little more delicate than dogs in terms of behavior – they learn best when you reward GOOD behavior, and tend to ignore or become confused by punishment of BAD behavior. When your cat does something right, give it a snuggle or two, maybe a treat, or take fifteen minutes to play with toys. If your cat misbehaves and you catch it in the act (e.g. scratching furniture), you can give it a little squirt from a water bottle to deter the naughty behavior – but never, EVER physically harm your pet.
Biting and Scratching
To keep your arms and legs from becoming your cat’s nail files, start coaching early on. Even as a kitten, don’t let your pet scratch or bite you. If they do, just step away and ignore them.
If your feline is scratching furniture, invest in a scratching post (or two!). If your kitty is not interested, sprinkle the post in catnip. If that still doesn’t work, add a dangly toy to spark their interest. Keep claws trimmed, and make time to play with your pets every day; cats tend to act out when they’re not getting the attention they want.
If you’ve got a picky eater, try to stick to one specific type of food, given at a set time every day – at the same time as your meals if you can. Switching brands can turn your cat into a prima donna – she’ll have her favorite, and won’t eat anything else – and keeping mealtimes consistent will ensure your cat stays more interested in what’s going on in her bowl, and not on your table.
If you still have problems with a picky cat, try the 20 minute method: put your cat’s dinner in their bowl, let it be available for 20 minutes, and then take it away. They’ll learn very quickly that there’s only a small window available for eating.
Remember, if your cat starts REALLY acting out, take it to a vet. There may be an underlying health problem that no amount of positive reinforcement or cuddling can cure.
Interested in litter box training? Click here for Part Two!