Herding Cats: Easy Cat Training Tips
Cats are quite different from dogs, which is exactly why many cat owners love them. Independent, nonchalant, capable of entertaining themselves and not overly affectionate.
Four Common Problems when Training a Cat
Cats are quite different from dogs, which is exactly why many cat owners love them. Independent, nonchalant, capable of entertaining themselves and not overly affectionate, cats have a “coolness” factor about them that dogs can never hope to emulate.
However, cats can be so cool that they're “too cool for school,” which is to say that many cat owners struggle with correcting bad cat behavior and training their cats. Most cats are not people-pleasers, so just telling them “No” in a disapproving voice doesn't do much to correct their bad attitude. Nevertheless, cats can be trained. Here are three tips for training a cat to be a more compliant member of the household.
Problem #1: Spraying
Cats sometimes like to mark their territory with dogs, just like dogs do with fire hydrants. However, before assuming that your cat is spraying to expand his domain, check that he's not suffering from a medical problem first. Excessive urination is a common symptom of a urinary tract infection and may not be a simple cat behavior problem at all.
If it is an issue of marking territory, consider getting your cat neutered. Un-neutered cats, especially males, tend to be the most frequent sprayers. In one study, 87% of male cats stopped spraying after being neutered.
Over-crowding can also lead to spraying. If you have multiple cats, maybe it's time to give one cat away or promise yourself not to get any new cats once your current kitties have passed on.
Problem #2: Knocking Things Down
Some cats have a funny habit of liking to knock things over, knock things off desks, knock things off counters, etc. It's all fun and cat games until your cat sends a priceless heirloom crashing to the floor.
Cats tend to knock things down for two primary reasons: They're “stalking” it like prey or they know it will bring you running towards them! In other words, the main reason cats knock things down, especially if you've reacted to their behavior before, is that they are seeking attention.
You can eliminate the problem of knocking things down by taking temptations out of the reach of your cat. However, if indeed it is an attention-seeking behavior, removing temptation will only treat the symptoms and not the root problem. Find something else for your cat to do – get new, interesting cat toys, find your cat a playmate, give your cat more TLC or give your cat places to climb and knock things over that are all her own.
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Problem #3: Scratching on Furniture
Cats claw at your sofa because are trying to sharpen their claws, just in case they need to do battle later on with the neighbor cat or your dog. Cats who scratch furniture could also be marking their territory, spreading the scent from their paws all over your brand new futon.
Cats will always scratch, but you can train them not to scratch your furniture. Get them a scratching post and decorate it with catnip to draw their attention. A catnip spray works very well for this purpose.
Cat Tip of the Day
Problem #4: Up All Night
There's nothing worse than trying to get a good night's sleep while your cat sits at the foot of your bed all night, meowing.
Unlike humans, cats are designed to be nocturnal. Left to their own devices, cats will sleep up to sixteen hours, mostly during the day, then hunt at night. Because cats are naturally nocturnal, you will probably not be able to stop them from being awake. However, you can stop your cat from disturbing your own sleep.
- Shut your cat out of your bedroom at night and seal the bottom of your door with a towel.
- Give your cat a warm, cozy bed – but not in your bedroom.
- Train your cat not to get hungry until later in the morning. If you feed your cat first thing in the morning, the cat will decide to help you get out of bed on time so that he can be fed. Instead, get a feeder with an automatic timer.
- Never give up. If you give in to your cat's nighttime demands, you will be teaching your cat that if he pesters you for long enough, you will eventually disturb your sleep in order to please him.
Have you dealt with a naughty cat? How did you solve the problem? Share your story below.