There is one aspect of cat training that is practical, useful and fair: training your cat to “come” on command. In general, I don’t really believe in cat training. I don’t think we have the right to train our cat. However, cats train us to a certain extent and they certainly get us to come on their command. If my cat meows from a distance, say in another room, I will often investigate to see what is going on – what does he want?
I believe it is respectful and fair to train a cat to come on command. Although, I will understand if some people disagree with me. There are a number of benefits. When a person wants his cat’s company he can call for it. Although, of course, he won’t stay unless he wants to. There is also the matter of cat welfare and safety. If your cat goes out but not too far it would be nice to call him in for whatever reason concerned with his welfare. For example, a dog or a predator might come into the garden or if you want to get your cat inside because you are going out and are concerned for his safety.
There are some other benefits (a) the actual training and the interaction afterwards adds to the connection between person and cat and (b) it should be mentally stimulating for the cat (c) it should be fun.
Cats can be trained and, as mentioned, it can be fun too. Cats respond well to food rewards. That is the motivator. You can’t and should not train using negative reinforcement: punishment. It should all be based on positive reinforcement. It is about “conditioning your cat”. Conditioning is a form of learning.
Training A Cat To Come On Command
Know the food your cat loves
A concerned cat owner will know the kind of food treat that their cat craves. If you don’t, you can find out by trail and error. Apparently, professional trainers use “pieces of liver fried to a crisp”¹.
Clickers are used by trainers. They make a sharp clear, sound that can be delivered precisely, which helps the cat connect the reward with his actions. The clicker is associated with the reward and eventually the food is phased out and the clicker is enough to motivate the cat.
Sessions should be short at less than five minutes.
Feed food treats from your hand. Then raise your hand so that your cat has to stretch – he goes up on his hind legs – to reach the food treat. A clicker can be used as your cat comes for his treat.
Show your cat the treat and step away from your cat so he has to move towards you to get it and say “Come” at that time. As your cat moves forward click the clicker. Over time increase the distance he has to travel to come for his treat. The goal is to call from another room or from a considerable distance in the garden.
- Encyclopedia of the Cat – Dr Bruce Fogle.