Why Do We Train Cats?
Why do we train cats? Training cats is usually done for one of four reasons:
To housebreak the cat
To tame a feral cat
To correct objectionable (bad) behaviour developed in the cat
To make the cat perform
Each reason is valid in its’ context.
Housebreaking includes litter box, sleeping arrangements, counters and furniture, scratching posts, other pets and family members, feeding times.
Usually, a kitten learns the acceptable behaviours “by osmosis” as it grows up in the home. Most people have little difficulty with this. However; when you adopt an adult cat, your cat has different house rules than you do; and this cause friction. The cat must be retrained.
A Feral Cat must be tamed before housebreaking can occur. Taming a feral cat includes developing trust. This is not the easiest thing to do after a cat has been trapped, altered and given vaccinations. The poor thing is probably delirious with fear. Patience is the key. Let the cat lead this dance. If you plan to tame the cat, do not let it loose again after the trapping and vet visit. The cat will not be taken in again.
Correcting Objectionable Behaviour calls into play a lot of training and behavioural science knowledge. Operant Conditioning is outlined and discussed. Each behaviour needs to be addressed separately, and the measures used to correct one behaviour may exacerbate another. The specifics of this are discussed. Clicker training is promoted, as this is the easiest way to train your cat. However, not all cats respond positively to the clicker, and you can ask the Cat Whisperer for help with these cats.
Training to Perform is a simple cycle of the task or trick, mark, reward and repeat. The hardest part is getting the cat to do the behaviour the first time. The more often you associate the word or action on your part with the action desired from the cat, the more ingrained the behaviour will be.
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