Step 1: Test out 900 different types of wholesome, protein-rich treats to find one that will motivate your cat. End up at squeeze cheese.
Step 2: Wait until she’s in the mood for squeeze cheese and NOT in the mood for swiping at you.
Step 3: Train your cat for the 12-second window every few days when all the stars align.
OK, so that’s a smidge sarcastic, but it’s also kinda true.
Truth: Cats can learn absolutely anything.
Another truth: They have to be in the mood to do so or no progress will be made.
One of the things we’ve learned with Newt is that she loves to learn, but she doesn’t always love to work. It was a bit of a surprise to us because, with the dogs, even if they’re not super in the mood to work, the second they see the treats, they’re like, “LET’S GO!” Newt, on the other hand, when not in the mood saw the treats and said, “Meh.”
So, here are three things we’ve learned and some (legitimate, non-sarcastic) tips on how to train a cat.
- Positive reinforcement rules the day. No surprise there, right? Newt learns amazingly fast with the clicker + treats. Unlike the dogs, though, it doesn’t work as well for her to swap out the click with a word (like with Cooper, when I don’t have the clicker, we have him conditioned to “YES!”).
- The treats hold the key. Yes, Newt loves squeeze cheese. She also loves the Kittles from Wellness, bits of real cheese, tiny bites of meat, and even some bits of Emmy’s Wellness dog food. But never on the same day. Have a few “go-tos,” but be ready to switch if she’s not seeming motivated.
- Patience, dear, patience. All good things take time, right? Keep the training sessions super, super, suuuuuper short. If your cat loses interest, she might not be as excited to do another session down the road. Keep it light, fun, short, and sweet! Leave her wanting more!
Want some proof that it works? Check out my badass kitty doing some fist bumps!