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5 Tips to Help You Train Your Cat

Given cats’ intelligence and independence, training them may seem like, well, trying to herd cats. Yet these same traits also make them willing to be trained … if you do it the right way.

Working with your cat’s natural instincts, you can train them to fetch, give you a high-five, stop using your leather sofa for a scratching post, become a famous piano-playing meme and much more. Whatever you’re hoping to accomplish, there are some important lessons to keep in mind. Ring the bell: School is now in session.

Five Tips for Training Your Cat

1. Treats Are Key

Cats are more eager to learn if they know there’s a tasty treat for them. Use your cat’s favorite flavor of as an incentive or reward to keep them coming back for more lessons.

2. A Clicker Makes Training a Snap

These inexpensive training tools are found at most pet-supply stores. A simple click-click becomes a quick, consistent reminder to your cat that they’re truly the teacher’s pet. (Make sure to quickly follow up the clicking with a treat!)

3. Break Down Lessons into Small Steps

Cats have good memories, but short attention spans. Break down a training activity into simple steps and build from there. If your cat gets bored, let them have recess before the next class.

4. Accentuate the Positive

We all love positive reinforcement! If your cat is behaving badly, ignore it. Yelling at them is still a form of attention, so they’ll take it over nothing. But when their performance is an A+, lavish them with treats, loving pats, kind words and maybe a college scholarship. Who’s a good kitty?

5. Start Early

Cats are creatures of routine, so it’s harder to teach an old cat new tricks. Young kitties are much more likely to be your star students.

  • orange and white tabby cat on persons lap touching fists

    5 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

    Let’s face it:  Our feline friends can be real weirdos at times. But most cat parents adore their odd yet endearing behavior. Plus, it keeps things entertaining around the house! Check out our list of five mystifying cat behaviors and why they do them.

    1. Kneading

    A lot of cat parents call this behavior “making biscuits” because it looks like a baker kneading dough. According to PetMD.com, when cats knead by rhythmically pressing down with one paw and then the other, it usually signals happiness. Not all cats do it, but those that do usually knead soft blankets, pillows, other animals or (of course) their owner’s lap! A lot of felines also soothingly purr at the same time.

    Kittens instinctively knead their mother to get milk flowing, but why do adult cats do it? According to Vetstreet.com, pet experts think it’s a way to show contentment, display affection and mark a person, object or another animal with the scent glands in their paws. While it’s usually a sign of love, some cats also knead to calm themselves if they’re feeling a little stressed or anxious. Whatever the reason, though, one thing’s for sure: Cat parents usually enjoy their kitty massages!

    2. Going Bums Up

    When you stroke your cat’s back or brush them, do they suddenly go into elevator-butt position (yep, that’s really what it’s called!) by lowering their front end, raising their hindquarters high and pointing their tail straight up? If so, this is your cat’s way of saying, “That’s the spot!” It’s how your cat lets you know you’re scratching them in juuuust the right place — usually at the base of their tail — and that they want you to keep doing what you’re doing!

    Sometimes your cat might stick their elevator-up backside in your face. And while it might seem a little rude, it’s actually a friendly gesture that tells other cats your kitty feels secure and is kindly offering up the chance for a butt sniff. (Which, like with dogs, is 100% normal.) The good news? You don’t have to take them up on the offer; you can just keep scratching instead.

    3. Squeezing into Small Spaces

     

    “If I fits, I sits” isn’t just an online phenomenon; it’s a way of life in the cat world. That’s because felines love to squeeze themselves into and sleep in tight spaces like bathroom sinks, baskets, bags, bookshelves or, of course, B-O-X-E-S! They may even choose a cardboard container over an expensive, comfy cat bed. Why? Because they like the security and warmth these places provide. According to Vetstreet.com, some pet experts consider cats’ love of tiny spaces to be a nod to their wildcat ancestors that hid and slept in small, enclosed places as a way to avoid predators and stalk prey.

    4. Chattering

     

    When your cat sees a bird outside the window, they might chatter at it. Chattering is a distinctive, repetitive clicking sound made from a combination of lip smacking and your cat rapidly vibrating their lower jaw. This odd behavior looks like teeth chattering, and a lot of cats also sprinkle in soft, birdlike “chirp” sounds.

    This strange cat trait is thought to be a mix of predatory excitement and frustration at not being able to get to the bird that’s making them cuckoo. Moderncat.com also reports that some animal behaviorists even think the chattering sound mimics a “killer bite” used to break the bones of prey. (Wow! Who knew Fluffy was so ferocious?!)

    Regardless of the exact reason cats chatter at birds, most feline parents find it hilarious and worthy of a social share.

    5. Being Terrified of Cucumbers

     

    Who knew such an unassuming fruit (yes, fruit!) could strike so much fear into most cats? The internet is packed with videos of unsuspecting cats shooting straight in the air and fleeing from a cucumber secretly placed behind them.

    But have you ever wondered why most cats react this way? Animal behaviorists have a couple of leading theories for the “cucumber cat phenomenon.” Most agree that cucumbers look like snakes, which cats are instinctively scared of. Another theory is that they’re reacting to an unexpected object suddenly showing up behind them.

    Whatever the reason cucumbers make a cat’s blood run cold, we don’t recommend pulling this prank on your poor cat — your little furball could get hurt! (Plus, you can already find plenty of videos to get your “scaredy cat vs. cucumber” fix.)