Training Your Cats or Kittens With Positive Reinforcement

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What a heartwarming feeling, when your cat snuggles up to you when you sleep or comes to greet you after a tough day at work!
Cats are known to be finicky and temperamental most of the times, but it doesn’t have to be the case when you raise them from a very young age, and also, they’re so affectionate and peaceful.

Most of the times, cats get so attached to the owner who spoils them. They memorize their voices, the car they drive and everything related to them. And just like dogs, you can teach them cat fetch game, train them to respond to your calls, use the little box, learn tricks and you can even teach cats to talk back to you. So how to train your cat? And what is positive reinforcement?

Reinforcement starts at any age, but it is typically wise to start out with a kitten.

Maybe cats can’t understand your words but they have the intelligence to make the difference between your different voice tones. If they have done something bad they understand when you yell at them, that’s why it’s mandatory to use your angry voice whenever they do a villain thing, otherwise, you’ll just confuse them with your words.

Training cats with positive reinforcement or the negative one can start at any point of your cat’s life, but it’s always good to start with a small little kitten to ease your task. Positive reinforcement is when you treat your cat or give them extra play time when they’re been good kitties. Wait, and do cats understand negative reinforcement? The answer is: Yes!

Negative reinforcement in this example is water; as cats genuinely have to get wet.

Repetition and treats reinforce the skills:

Reward the favored behavior:

The secret of training your cats remains in a simple equation: treat the favored behavior, and ignore the kitty when they do a bad thing. Here’s an example of positive reinforcement: you prefer the silence around the house, so each time your cat meows at you ignore their calls, while the moment they are quiet, start treating them. And repeat the procedure again and again, until it becomes your cat’s habit. This is how training your cat with positive reinforcement works.

Rewards are important to train cats:

If you want your cat to show up every time she hears her name, you should look at your cat’s eyes and say her name many times. Otherwise, you can have another sound like fingers snaps or hand clap instead of calling the name; as they attract your kitten’s attention better. Then each time she shows up to you, treat her. Repeat it again in another room.
Reward reinforcement right away!

Training your kittens with positive reinforcement requires you to treat your cat immediately, preferably while they are doing the favored new cat behavior. For example, If they’re using the litter box, treat them right away before they move to some other activity if they do and you treat them they might think it’s this last activity that deserves to be rewarded.

Always reward!

How do you reward kittens? Well, an important part of training cats with positive reinforcement is treating with the same way and the same amount every time in order to reward behaviors that are good, and so should everyone in the family and friends who come over.

Choose the right training moments:

Cats love food, therefore they’re most motivated right before meals, so use that time to train them for about 15 min, the moment they lose interest, stop the kitten training. Always use your cat motivation to train them.

At the end trade treats with praise:

How do you reinforce good behavior in cats? Easy! You treat them! Treats are important if you wish training cats with positive reinforcement. However, too many treats can lead to obesity. You want your cat to give up on the food treats and count more on the “good kitty emotional praise”. Therefore, once you see that your cat learned the good behavior, start cutting on the treats, first give them three out of four times whenever your kitty displays the favored behavior, then two of four, then occasional treating. Keep offering the praise and the emotional treat while cutting out the treats, and you’ll have a good kitten, behaving well and counting to be rewarded with praise and maybe a treat.

See if training will ease stressful situations

Treating is mandatory when you train cats. But, if your cat gets a huge stress from some activities like trimming nails, or brushing, the stress can be stronger than the joy of getting the treat. Therefore, do not be disappointed, you just need to look for another solution and never give up!

DO NOT punish!

During training your cats with positive reinforcement, avoid punishing or shaking or yelling at your cat, this will only make her confused and maybe even think that this reaction is associated to what she’s doing at the precise moment, which is maybe trying to start a play session with you, instead of the vase she broke that just forgot about.
Forcing your cat won’t lead to anything:
Don’t make your cat go to the litter box or scratch in the scratching post, she won’t understand what you’re trying to do and she might even be frightened by you.

The litter box issue should be the least of your concerns:

Cats instinctively associate dirt with the feeling of littering. What you need to do is start training cats with positive reinforcement to make them use the litter box, it’s best that you do the training in the room that contains it. Put them in the litter box each time they need to release their business so that they familiarize with the smell, and automatically associate the dirt with the need to litter.

You might have some bad incidents at the beginning; as it’s a new concept for kitties, they might not like it as well and litter anywhere else but in it. It will require a lot of patience from you, and if eventually the cats still refuse to use the litter box despite all your attempts, it means then that you should be looking for another solution.
All adult cats train their kittens too, so it’s important that they have enough mother care before they leave it their nest.

Food works the same way as the litter box; once you show them the bowl’s place and repeat it, they will always learn where to find it. You need to keep in mind that cats are trained with habits, so everything you wish to accomplish in their training, make sure you arm yourself with time and patience.

Habits are made when your kid kitty brings you a toy:

Each time they want to play, some cats will simply make the sound: «meow” or maybe rarely bring their toy to you. But if you’re training cats with positive reinforcement, the cat will learn to bring a toy to you each time they feel like playing, this way is very efficient than treating.

For instance, Spooky is my kitty, she’s two years old. Every time she wants to play, she brings her stuffed animal puts is down next to the couch where I’m sitting and starts meowing at me until I notice her need and start playing with her.

Cats are definitely trainable. Certainly not at the level of voice command a dog was can be trained with, but in some ways, training cats with positive reinforcement can be a success. Cats have the ability to animate any home and be more fun than any other pet in the house. And don’t forget the feeling they inspire when they jump on your laps and start purring, that could be all you need to chase the energy of a bad day instantly.

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