Even an unexperienced owner can teach the dog to sit or to bring a toy on command. But it’s an extremely difficult task to achieve such obedience from a cat. These freedom-loving and proud beauties do not tolerate any compulsion. Does cat training exist and what do professionals think about that?
Yuri Kuklachyov, a Russian performing artist and clown and the founder of the famous Cat Theatre, said in his interview once: "it is impossible to train a cat. Circus artists have been trying to do that for centuries and nothing worked. We just watch cats, try to find their abilities and then praise them. Then we specially develop these skills”. Does it mean that a cat is more stupid than a dog? Of course not. The thing is a fundamental difference of social orientation of these animals. Dogs are gregarious animals, so they are genetically capable of subordination and domination. Cats live single. They count only on themselves and recognize no authority. And therefore it is pointless trying to subdue this haughty creature.
Of course, a whiskered pet can be trained to do some actions. But those owners, who expect dog’s obedience, will be disappointed. Training cat at home first of all is a funny game that should bring only pleasure to both of you. It is pointless to force a cat to do what it doesn’t like.
What to start from?
First you need to figure out what talents your pet has. Some cats like jumping high in the pursuit of prey, the other “play football” with paper balls, some cats cat jump deftly overcoming obstacles. Watching a cat and playing with it, it is easy to identify its abilities and talents. If you use your imagination, you could think of a number of mini-tricks to make a performance.
It is important that your cat trusted you. A cat that got used to punishment and constant shouting will be hardly willing to establish close contact. There should be some close emotional relationship between the owner and the pet. Only then the cat will get gladly involved into the training process, acting at a command. For this reason, you shouldn’t punish a cat or scold it for disobedience; the only actions from your side are praise, admiration and pleasant emotions.
How to consolidate actions at a command?
So the most important thing: your pet is not likely to act at a command if it realizes that you force it to. Training cats is some kind of game, where the cat should think that it is training the owner and not vice versa.
For example, we want to train a cat to act at the command “sit down.” Watching your cat, wait for the moment when it starts to sit down. Then give a command “sit down” in a calm voice. The cat has already started doing that, so the command is executed. Once the cat performs the task, it should be treated to something delicious and stroked.
It is important that between the command and the moment of encouraging there were no other events, otherwise the cat won’t be able to understand what it was praised for. If the cat stands on its paws trying to reach a treat, the connection “command – encouragement” will be broken.
Cat is unlikely to understand what it was treated for from the first time, so the exercise should be repeated again and again, but only when the pet starts to sit down on its own. After a few times, you can conduct an experiment: passing by the cat, say “sit down” and watch the reaction. But the moment for that should be right: the cat is not sleeping, not eating and not playing its games. If the pet reacts to a command correctly, praise it and give a treat. If not – just pass by. It is important not to force the cat, and not let it know that sitting down on a command it will receive the treat.
Training a cat to jump from one place to another, or to jump through an obstacle or through hoops is even easier – you just need to simulate hunting with the help of a toy. At competitions cat trainers act exactly this way: they set the cats on with feather teasers.