We all know cats are smart creatures, but many of us might be surprised to learn that cats can be trained! They can be taught many of the same behaviors we teach our canine companions, from “sit” and “fetch” to “roll over” and “stand on hind legs.” For these commands, you’ll use the same positive reinforcement training methods you use for dogs, including clicker training and targeting, incorporating plenty of praise and high-value rewards.

But some cat-specific behaviors may require a different approach. Here are two common behaviors cat owners can teach their feline friends.

#1: Train your cat to use the litter box.

Most cats have no problems quickly learning where to do their business, but if your cat isn’t quite there, follow these steps:

  • Fill a large, clean litter box with fine, unscented, clumping litter. The box should have low sides so your cat can easily step inside, and it should provide enough space so she can turn around and comfortably posture while doing her business.
  • Place the litter box in a small room, like a bathroom, and enclose your cat in the room with the box. Remove all rugs, clothing, blankets, or other items that might entice your kitty to use as a bathroom.
  • Leave your cat in the room with the box for several hours.
  • If your cat defecates outside the litter box, place the stool inside the box, so your cat will see where she’s supposed to eliminate.

If your cat was previously litter-box trained and has recently begun inappropriately eliminating, call us so we can rule out a potential medical problem.

#2: Train your cat to scratch where you want her to.

Inappropriate scratching is an all too common reason cats are relinquished to shelters. Clawing is a natural behavior that helps cats maintain healthy nails, deposits pheromone messages, and helps them to release energy. Here’s how you can save your favorite couch (and your relationship with your favorite feline):

  • Purchase multiple large, sturdy scratching posts along with an attractant designed to entice your cat to scratch, like FELISCRATCH.
  • Place the scratching posts in or near the areas of your home where your cat likes to sleep and spray them with the attractant.
  • If you notice your cat scratching your furniture, do not punish her. Instead, pick her up and place her next to the scratching post.
  • When she uses the scratching post, reward your cat with her favorite treats and praise.

Need help with a feline behavior issue? Contact us for help.