Felines are different than canines – you won’t find training courses for kitties like there are for puppies. Cats are fiercely independent animals, and if rescued, may still have feral mentalities and instincts that take time to tame. Unfortunately there’s also a misconception that cats cannot be trained like dogs. The truth is, with the right amount of patience and creativity, cats will respond to training. So, if you’re worried about your furniture, your kitchen counter tops or sleepless nights with your new furball running the Kitten Olympics around your house, here are a few useful tips on how to train your cats before they end up training you!
According to Fetch by WebMD, cats aren’t as naturally inclined to work for praise and attention as most dogs are – you have to be creative. Try using positive reinforcement when training, rewarding good behavior with tasty treats, some laser play time or perhaps a little catnip. Cats do not react or respond well to stern punishment, which frightens them and causes them to hide from their owners (which you don’t want), or increases stress which could lead to further behavioral issues. Fetch recommends rewarding the behaviors you want while offering more attractive alternatives for those less desirable behaviors. For example, if your cat starts to scratch a piece of furniture, instead of immediately jumping to punishment, offer the alternative of a scratching post or point your tigress in the direction of alternative scratching options, such as a cat tree. Cats, like humans, also learn from repetition – the more you reward them, or effectively deter them from behavior you don’t want, the faster they learn.
As previously mentioned, cats are far different than dogs and if rescued from an outdoor life, still have their fierce hunting instincts. That is, of course, how they survived. Those little paws were their weapons, and although their little toe beans can be adorably cute, their nails are not. It’s natural that when you bring a kitten or a cat into your home, they’re going to find spots to sharpen those weapons and, unfortunately, it is often your furniture.
Aletha Carson, DVM and Senior Manager of Digital Health at Kinship, a technology company primed to shape the future of pet care, recommends providing your cat with a more enticing option than your couch, like a cat tree. “Make it a place for your cat to go hangout, and have fun; add in enticing toys, a little cat nip, and select a tree that offers a high perch,” says Carson. She also notes that the cat tree should be new and not pre-owned as any previous cat scents will deter use.
Still scratching at your furniture? Carson suggests that you can use double-sided stick tape or tin foil on the furniture as a deterrent. Don’t worry – your furniture will not be forever covered in tape and tin foil, but it does serve as a solid distraction to redirect the scratching instinct to a more appropriate target.
Cats self-groom, but they do need manis and pedis. Often, your cat may be scratching at your furniture because she needs to a trip to the kitty salon. Ever find nail sheaths around the house – little pieces of your cat’s nails that look like a shell? Those little shells, or dead nail sheaths, will come off while they scratch to expose the healthy, new nail growth. It’s a cat’s version of an at-home manicure.
SprucePets offers some great tips for at-home nail trims.
Maintaining a grooming routine with your kitty should reduce excessive scratching. Start this young, or, if adopting an older cat, as soon as they come home. Allow it to be part of a routine so it doesn’t become a challenge. At the end of the day, it will only help them feel more comfortable.
Cat trees, scratching posts or horizontal scratching boards can also be placed around your homes to provide your cat with options other than your couch. I love the horizontal scratching boards as inexpensive options to place discreetly in various rooms of your home. These boards range in size and designs to match your needs and aesthetic. Both Amazon and Chewy offer a wide variety of options to choose from and you can also check your local Target stores or even HomeGoods (my personal budget-friendly go-to!).
Having several scratching options well-placed around the home and redirecting kitty to these spots when he goes for the furniture will help groom nails and prevent less destruction. Remember – don’t punish, but redirect, and then reward when kitty scratches in desired areas!
No, not that kind of high! “Cats seek out vertical spaces. A trip across your kitchen counter is nothing more than a good view,” says Carson. “Providing alternatives where your cat is welcomed and encouraged to hang out will help provide comfort and security.” Create a warm, comfy and inviting space that is elevated, whether it is in a cat tree or a window shelf.
“Tasty treats and a warm comfy bed in a high vantage point make for an enticing lair,” says Carson, mitigating your kitty’s desire to take evening strolls across your counter tops or scratching while seated on your favorite chair.
We want our kitty to feel safe and secure in her new home and, in time, she will adapt. Never forget, rewarding your cat for positive behavior is key. Punishment is not productive and will only cause kitty stress and won’t allow him to adjust to his new home. Keep in mind, your new family member must adjust to new situations just like you do and, together, you will navigate this new relationship and routine. So, keep yummy kitty treats on-hand to reward kitty’s good behavior, and perhaps pour yourself a glass of vino to reward yourself for being a conscientious and awesome cat pawrent!
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE:Rescue Pop is committed to providing original pet-friendly content to our readers. Rescue Pop may at times receive compensation from our partners or use affiliate links to promote products and services featured on our website. Examples of affiliate links are links to Chewy and Amazon. As an Amazon Associate Rescue Pop earns from qualifying purchases. Please know, your trust is important to us. If we recommend anything, it is always, first and foremost, because we believe it is worth exploring.
No spam, notifications only about rescue pet news, new products and updates.
The Ulti-Mutt Guide for Rescue Pets and their Pawsome Pet Parents.