Cat Training Tips: A Vet Tech Guide
Published on October 5, 2018 by A. Rothstein
You may be asking yourself, “Why train a cat?” We are not talking about getting your cat to balance a ball on their nose or jump from the couch in an awkward way, so you go viral on YouTube. Cats need training too. Most importantly potting training in the litter box but also stopping door dashing, staying off counter tops, finding your cat if they happen to go outside, using commands to instill recall, stopping the cat from scratching the couch, preparing your cat for a nail trimming and not scolding your cat. These tips will help you train your cat and create a positive relationship with them.
Why Train a Cat?
Cats can learn bad habits or put themselves in a position to get injured. Further, you don’t want your cat using your favorite pair of shoes as a litter box. The job of training a cat is to instill recall rather than allow them to only make decisions on instinct. The best way to instill recall is to use treats and a clicker. This combination will create a cat that can associate positive actions with rewards.
Tip #1: Litter Box Training
Most kittens learn how to use the litter box by watching their mother. Since cats tend to be creatures of habit, make sure to use the same type of litter each time you clean the litter box. Make sure the litter box is big enough for them to easily stand without hanging over the sides. The kitten should be placed in the litter box upon waking and after meals. Make sure this is the only place the kitten uses.
Start by putting the litter box in a quiet and easy to access location. Make sure to put it in a place that is private, away from their bed. Don’t use disinfectants or bleach to clean the litter box as some are toxic to cats. Further, cats won’t use a dirty litter box, so it is important to clean the litter box regularly.
It is important to note that sexually mature cats may mark their territory so having the cat spayed or neutered is important for litter box training. It also helps keep the pet population from getting out of hand.
Tip #2: How to Stop Door Dashing
The best way to stop your cat from dashing out the door every time it opens is to train the cat to sit on a stool that is far away from the door. This will stop the indoor cat from getting out into the neighborhood and hiding from you forever. The use of treats and a clicker will train the cat that sitting on the stool will give positive rewards.
Another way to stop your cat from dashing out the door is to have an empty can of pennies and rattle it as you walk into the door. This will irritate the cat enough to stay back without running out the door. Finally, you can throw a toy on the floor to distract your cat as you go out the door.
Tip #3: How to Stop Counter Surfing
Even though most cats land on their feet when the jump from high places, they can still slip and hurt themselves. The best way to stop your cat from counter surfing is to use reward-based training. Figure out which treat your cat can’t live without. Then, get a clicker to create Pavlov’s cat. The clicker is used to link the clicking sound to getting a treat. Start by placing a treat on the floor and the minute your cat eats the treat, press the clicker. After a while, the cat will go to the floor every time you press the clicker.
Another way to stop your cat from counter surfing is to apply sticky tap to the edge of the counter. Cats don’t like the feeling of the sticky tape, so this will deter them. Finally, you can give the cat a place where it can enjoy heights without being on your counters. Buying a cat tower gives them the ability to enjoy heights. Whenever they are playing on the cat tower, take the time to praise them or give them a treat. This will reinforce the positive play location.
Tip #4: How to Find Your Cat if They are Lost Outside
The first step of the training will be to teach recall. You will want to keep a few treats with you as you sit on the couch or make dinner. Every time your cat starts walking toward you, press the clicker. The click will remind the cat that they are going to get a treat. Once they get to you, give them the treat. Do this until your cat comes to you when you press the clicker. Now when your cat happens to get loose outside, just go out and press the clicker. Your cat will have recall of getting a treat associated with the clicker and come home.
Tip #5: Use Commands to Instill Recall
Another easy way to train your cat without having to carry the clicker with you is to use verbal commands in association with the treat and clicker. If you want your cat to come to you, say “Here,” press the clicker and then give the treat. Eventually you will just need to say “Here,” and your cat will come to you.
Tip #6: How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching the Couch
Cats naturally want to scratch things and your couch is a big target. They may also even feel like preparing the couch before they take a nap. Instead of scolding the cat every time they scratch something, use positive reinforcement instead. Buy a scratching post and give the cat attention or a treat every time they use it. Eventually they will stop scratching the couch and opt for the scratching post instead.
Tip #7: How to Prepare Your Cat for a Nail Trimming
A great way to prepare your cat for a nail trimming is to use treats. Start by accepting the cat’s paw and give them a small treat. Once they voluntarily give you their paw, try extending their nails and work up to trimming one nail at a time.
Tip #8: Don’t Scold Your Cat
Cats don’t learn from being scolded. They don’t associate the negative feedback with the bad habit they have picked up. Further, scolding a cat may even be a reward. When you make loud noises, this may seem like a reward from a cat since you are giving it attention. The louder you yell the more rewarding it can seem to the cat.
Interested in learning more about how to train your cat? How about starting a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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