Does your cat come to you when you call her? Do you want to have that ability as part of your cat caretaking duties? I’d like to know if you have trained your cat and if so, how. In this post I explore the possibility of training your cat to come to you when you call.
I think it is nice if you can call your cat over and for example feed her or call her in from the outside. I don’t normally call my cat. He is mainly an indoor cat and he normally calls me! He opens up the conversation by talking loudly to me.
However, we read about the dog-like behavior of certain cat breeds. Some breeds appear to be more responsive probably because they are smarter. First filial Savannah cats come to mind.
My Training Efforts
There is one occasion when I call my cat to me. I am in bed and he jumps on and sits at the end away from me. I non-aggressively thump the bed next to me. That is his signal or cue to come to me and rest on me. He nearly always obeys that signal. Why? Because he associates it with something good. It is the classic reward based training.
In this instance the good thing he likes is being groomed by me using a flea comb. He does not have fleas. He hasn’t for a while but he does have an itchy skin and the flea comb brings him relief. That is the reward for him. That and bit of warmth and cuddling. The thump on the bed is a form clicker training.
I have also trained him to get off my armchair and move to the top of the back support when I want to sit in it. I move towards the chair and make a certain noise and he knows what to do. This is highly informal training. No method was employed to achieving that.
Training And The Clicker
In my basic bed example the sound of the thump on the bed is associated with the pleasure of a scratch and relief from an itch. It is more normal to, for example, say “come” or use a clicker device and associate that with a treat of some sort.
At mealtimes when your cat comes to the kitchen for food you can say “come” and when he arrives and you give him food click the clicker to reinforce the reward. As you can see from the video the click is made when the treat (food) is delivered. The click is used because it is sharp and precise. It allows the cat to make the association between action and reward with more certainty. I think the experts call it a “bridge”. It helps to bridge the connection between action and reward.
Training Your Cat To Come
I think this what I would do to train my cat to come on a call:
- When he comes naturally for whatever reason, I would then call him;
- When got to me, I would give him a treat and use the clicker.
- Doing that several times should lead to the situation where I call and he comes. Treats should be small single bite sized pieces of a favorite food and be to hand to deliver to your cat promptly.
This video shows how to clicker train.
The method is called ‘classical conditioning’. It is used in a very specific way as part of clicker training. Each click results in a reward, something positive for the cat. As mentioned this can be a treat, a cuddle or a favorite game. As cats are smart, they understand what sort of behavior gets them a ‘click’ and the reward.
I can see advantages in clicker training or just plain training beyond getting your cat to come to you on demand. This sort of activity promotes interaction between human and cat. It entertains the cat if the cat is trained to do other things. I would have thought these activities are good for a cat, especially an indoor cat.