Cats are great household pets as they fit into homes from small apartments to large mansions. But just like dogs, we need to train them to live by our rules. Cats are trainable and can be taught how to get along with you and your home.
It is important to realize that training your cat to do the behaviors you desire is very similar to training your dog. You must not teach your cat with negative reinforcement; this will only lead to them acting out when they think you won’t find out. So, how do you train a cat then? Below we’ve outlined some common areas and how to handle them.
Clawing: Scratching and clawing is a natural habit for a cat. Cats need to scratch and claw to keep their nails healthy. That is why you can not eliminate the act altogether. You can, however, make sure it is only on what you want to be scratched. To encourage your cat to scratch on their designated spot, whether it is a post, a tower, a log or any other scratching device, you must make it appealing, keep it in an area they enjoy being in, put toys near it and lay some catnip around it. If your cat has enough positive places to express this natural urge they should not do so on your furniture. There are methods to making the furniture not pleasant for the cat, including the use of aluminum foil or other textures they don’t enjoy. There is also the ability to use a product known as Soft Paws on your cat. Soft Paws are silicone covers for your cat’s claws. It prevents them from damaging anything when scratching or kneading.
Above all else, the importance of clawing and scratching is that it is natural. The solution never lays in declawing your cat. Declawing is a practice that is very harmful to a cat. Declawing is when a veterinarian surgically removes the first knuckle of the cat’s toes. They do not just remove the nail, they entirely cut off the first knuckle. Beyond mutilating the cat and causing large amounts of pain, this can cause much more severe behavior issues than scratching. Declawing cats can lead to issues using the litter box, long-term pain and aggression. Cats that are declawed often strike out with biting and can become extremely aggressive because of their pain.
Counter Surfing: Cats like to climb and be up high, it gives them an advantage on their surroundings and helps them feel secure. That being said, it doesn’t mean they have to be on your counters to feel safe. Providing your cat a few places to be high is a good protocol but you do not have to allow them places they shouldn’t be. One way to do that is by redirecting them when they get to an area you don’t want them to be. Remove them from that area and place them in the appropriate place and make it fun, add toys, cat nips and beds to make the one area more appealing. You can also use aluminum foil or something like a scat mat, which puffs air at the cats when they cross a sensor.
Tricks: Like with dogs, you can train cats to do tricks, sit, come, paw etc. Like with dogs, one of the best ways to train cats is with food motivation. For something like sit, hold a treat so the cat can see/smell it and when they sit down, give them a treat and praise them. After a while, you can begin to say sit and then treat and praise after they do. Eventually, they will learn to sit. That is a similar strategy to teach cats most tricks. For name recognition when you call them and they wander over to you, give them a treat. You can have fun with tricks and see what you think you can teach them!
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