Yes, you absolutely can train a cat in similar ways to which you would train a dog, with many commands working well for both animals, including shaking hands, high-five, sit, and roll over. Cats, much like humans, require mental as well as physical stimulation, and training can be a great way to achieve both of these. In fact, teaching your cat simple commands can have a wide range of benefits, both for you and your feline companion.
As well as mental stimulation, training a cat to perform simple commands can help to relieve boredom, which is particularly useful for indoor or energetic cats. It can also help relieve any stress the cat may be feeling, which can in turn minimise unwanted behaviours. In addition, simply spending more time with your feline can be a great bonding experience for your both, resulting in a closer companion. Plus, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when your cat finally perfects the command is second-to-none!
We always recommend using positive reinforcement when training an animal. Cats will respond better to much training that is reward-based. Punishing them, or using negative reinforcement can stress the cat, making it harder to continue with the training session and may result in other unwanted behaviours.
For teaching your cat most commands, you may require:
Treats: we recommend using high-value treats for training your cat, rather than their regular food. You’ll know best what your individual cat’s preferences are, but diced chicken, fish, or commercial cat treats are great options. Using a treat they love will help to keep their attention and reinforce the new command.
Clicker: these can be purchased cheaply online or at your local pet store and can be a great way to use a simple, consistent noise to assist the training. To begin, condition your cat to the clicker by simply scattering treats and clicking the clicker each time they eat a treat. Over time, the cat will learn to associate the sound of the clicker with the treats, which can greatly help in the ensuing training.
Patience: training a cat, impressive as it may be, isn’t always an easy feat. Some breeds are more adept at learning commands than others, including the Bengal, Siamese and Maine Coon, but don’t count out any other moggie, as many cats can surprise with how quickly and easily they can learn. Training will take time, and consistency is key, so set aside a few distraction-free moments every day, get relaxed, and enjoy!