While cats can learn everything that dogs can, the secret to training cats is to tailor classes to suit their specific learning style. Try these tips:
1. Find out what motivates your cat. Food rewards need to be something your cat goes crazy about. “Cats are petite eaters and more critical about what they eat,” says Terri A. Derr, DVM, founder of Veterinary Behavior Options. “If you experiment with things your cat likes to eat, you’re sure to find something the cat wants.” Some cats may even be more motivated by a special toy or petting than by food rewards.
2. Keep the rewards for food tiny. Offer teeny taste when training. “A cat’s stomach is as small as a lime,” says Lisa Radosta, DVM. “A few normal sized cat treats can fill him up pretty quickly, especially if he’s just visited his bowl.”
3. Keep the training sessions very short. Do many short sessions (two to five minutes maximum) throughout the day. “Cats get to the point where they get ‘done’ faster than dogs,” says Dr. Derr. “The training sessions should always be short and always end when the training goes well. The most common mistake people make is trying to do just one more repetition. “
4. Give the cat time to figure out what you want. “Give your kitten a chance for thought, especially if it’s your first time teaching a behavior,” says Dr. Radosta. “Then when they do what you want, reinforce them. It’s like trying to get the kitten to think that it is their choice for what it really is. “
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