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Published: Feb 23, 2024 5 min read

Although not as popular and accessible as dog training, cat training also allows owners to weed out problematic cat behaviors, teach them fun tricks and provide them with the stimulation they require. Read on to learn which behaviors you can teach your cat and which you can modify or eliminate altogether, the benefits of cat training, the tools you will need and some proven cat training methods.

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Why you should train your cat

Aside from getting rid of unwanted behaviors and instilling healthy ones, cat training gives owners the chance to get to know their cats better. Through consistent examination of their behavior, in time owners are able to better identify and understand their cats’ cues and body language.

Training also provides them with the necessary mental and physical stimuli to meet their need for enrichment, especially if they’re indoor cats. This may in turn reduce the impulses that bring on the negative behaviors.

However, if the training is not done properly, it could worsen the existing issues or create new ones, as it often happens with punishments during training. That is why we recommend consulting animal behaviorists and other experts for training tips and guidance.

Skills and behaviors your cat can learn and unlearn

Cat training can both teach your cat new tricks and skills as well as help them unlearn bad behaviors and reinforce the good ones. The tables below outline some of the most common behaviors cat owners want to instill in their cats as well as those they wish to modify or eliminate.

Desired behaviors and tricks

Unwanted behaviors

  • Sitting
  • Giving high fives
  • Using the litter box
  • Wearing a leash
  • Sitting in a carrier
  • Scratching furniture
  • Jumping on the kitchen counter
  • Pottying outside their designated area
  • Biting 
  • Excessive meowing

Training tools and supplies you will need

Depending on the type of training you want or need your cat to have, there are different tools and items you may need. Cat treats are a must for positive reinforcement no matter the focus of your training. High-value treats like freeze-dried chicken and fish bits might give your cat a little more motivation.

Scratching posts or horizontal scratchers will be key in training your cat to stop scratching the furniture in your home. If the problem is that they bite your hands or whatever they can grab when playing, you will probably need cat toys to which you can redirect your cat’s attention during playtime. Other common training tools include clickers, pointing sticks, and more.

Cat training methods

Below we discuss some of the most common training methods for cats. Keep in mind that not all approaches will work on every cat, so you might have to try a few before narrowing down which is best for yours. You also don’t have to choose just one. If your cat responds to all three, then by all means, use all three.

  • Clicker training: This method aims to associate a clicking sound — made immediately after your cat has performed the desired behavior — with receiving treats and other rewards.
  • Voice command training: With this method, the goal is to get your cat to associate your commands to the behavior you want them to display.
  • Hand signal training: Similar to voice command training, the purpose of this type of training is to get your cat to associate commands with different hand gestures.

How to train a cat FAQs

Are cats easy to train?

Not all cats will be equally easy to train. In fact, some experts believe dogs are easier to train than cats because of their obedient nature.

What commands can I teach my cat?

Cat owners can teach their cats to come when they are called, sit, high-five, spin and do other tricks dogs can do as well.

Should I train my cat?

Training your cat to do tricks is not really necessary. However, if they are exhibiting behavior problems such as biting when playing or jumping on your countertops, then yes, you should train them. Training your feline friend committedly will ensure these issues are fixed.

Summary of Money’s Guide on How to Train a Cat

  • Through cat training, pet parents can teach their cat tricks, reinforce or establish good behaviors and modify bad or unwanted behaviors in young and adult cats.
  • Cat training also helps owners become more in tune with their cats.
  • Common types of training for cats include litter training, leash training, carrier or crate training and more.
  • The tools and supplies you will need for your training sessions will depend on the type and focus of your cat’s training.
  • Some cats may take to certain training methods better than others, which is why owners must experiment with each until they find the one that works best for them.

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