You can teach an old cat new tricks

You can teach an old cat new tricks

By: Judy Hamontre, AVHS Vice-chair

Not only can you teach an old cat new tricks, you can also teach kittens. Many cat lovers believe cats are just as fun to train as dogs, saying it is a great way to connect with your feline friends and teach them the meaning of a few key words.

According to Katenna Jones, a certified animal behaviorist and director of Jones Animal Behavior in Rhode Island, “Many cats love training if done properly, with patience and rewards. Cats welcome learning basic directions and most kittens take well to leash training.”

She adds, “The benefits of cat training are vast. Training provides mental and physical stimulation as well as positive social contact. Just the act of training in and of itself is incredibly valuable for frustrated, bored, shy, and fearful cats.”

Cat behaviorists agree that cats are not going to learn tricks like dogs do, but that much basic training comes naturally to them. They will instinctively use a litter box. Often training them not to do something such as tug on a leash or bite, comes down to simply not provoking that behavior.

For example, if leash training, use a harness instead of a collar because it is more gentle and less stressful if your cat does tug. You will only add to her panic if she feels she is being choked by that tight thing around her neck.

Be proactive with biting by allowing your cat to see hands as rewarding. Rub some tasty treat paste on the back of your hand, let your cat come to you to sniff and then lick, calmly pulling your hand away if she begins to nip. Say the word,”gentle” when she licks. Cats are smart and like their treats. They will learn not biting means good things to eat.

Discovering your cat’s favorite treats and stocking up on them is essential to reward her successes. Also, find the best time to train your cat and keep training sessions brief, eliminating all possible distractions. Only train one skill at a time, being consistent with cues and rewards. Use only positive reinforcement and never punish. Be patient and repeat, repeat, repeat!

“The important thing is to let your cat have the final say in what you teach her; not all cats like to do all things. Choose behaviors that already come naturally to your cat before setting out to put the behavior on cue.” This wise advice comes from Ingrid Johnson, cat behaviorist and director of “Fundamentally Feline” in Georgia.

If you would like to see cat training in action, just Google it to find some truly delightful videos of cats performing tricks beyond your imagination, including jumping through hoops and over bars, doing figure eights, running through tunnels, ringing bells and even giving high fives.

However, there might be one caution with the high five trick. One proud cat mother now has her cat batting at her every time she sits down on the couch with a snack because the cat thinks her high five will get her bites of that snack.

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You can teach an old cat new tricks

You can teach an old cat new tricks

By: Judy Hamontre, AVHS Vice-chair

Not only can you teach an old cat new tricks, you can also teach kittens. Many cat lovers believe cats are just as fun to train as dogs, saying it is a great way to connect with your feline friends and teach them the meaning of a few key words.

According to Katenna Jones, a certified animal behaviorist and director of Jones Animal Behavior in Rhode Island, “Many cats love training if done properly, with patience and rewards. Cats welcome learning basic directions and most kittens take well to leash training.”

She adds, “The benefits of cat training are vast. Training provides mental and physical stimulation as well as positive social contact. Just the act of training in and of itself is incredibly valuable for frustrated, bored, shy, and fearful cats.”

Cat behaviorists agree that cats are not going to learn tricks like dogs do, but that much basic training comes naturally to them. They will instinctively use a litter box. Often training them not to do something such as tug on a leash or bite, comes down to simply not provoking that behavior.

For example, if leash training, use a harness instead of a collar because it is more gentle and less stressful if your cat does tug. You will only add to her panic if she feels she is being choked by that tight thing around her neck.

Be proactive with biting by allowing your cat to see hands as rewarding. Rub some tasty treat paste on the back of your hand, let your cat come to you to sniff and then lick, calmly pulling your hand away if she begins to nip. Say the word,”gentle” when she licks. Cats are smart and like their treats. They will learn not biting means good things to eat.

Discovering your cat’s favorite treats and stocking up on them is essential to reward her successes. Also, find the best time to train your cat and keep training sessions brief, eliminating all possible distractions. Only train one skill at a time, being consistent with cues and rewards. Use only positive reinforcement and never punish. Be patient and repeat, repeat, repeat!

“The important thing is to let your cat have the final say in what you teach her; not all cats like to do all things. Choose behaviors that already come naturally to your cat before setting out to put the behavior on cue.” This wise advice comes from Ingrid Johnson, cat behaviorist and director of “Fundamentally Feline” in Georgia.

If you would like to see cat training in action, just Google it to find some truly delightful videos of cats performing tricks beyond your imagination, including jumping through hoops and over bars, doing figure eights, running through tunnels, ringing bells and even giving high fives.

However, there might be one caution with the high five trick. One proud cat mother now has her cat batting at her every time she sits down on the couch with a snack because the cat thinks her high five will get her bites of that snack.

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