Learn your cat’s likes and dislikes before you try to train him

A common remark from owners who are trying to train their cat is that it is like banging their head against a brick wall. “I try to do what I’m supposed to, but in all honesty it’s like the cat is training me to do what it wants,” they will say.

And although there is some truth in the suggestion that you have to give a little to get a lot less from your cat, it is important to remember that the only thing which really matters in terms of training a cat is that you get to the end result with a cat who is happy.

Know that your cat has certain “lines” which it does not like to cross. Some cats, for as long as they live, really do not like to be picked up. This is not something you can train or trick them into liking. If you do lift them, their response will be to squirm and try to escape.

For some owners this is disappointing, but it is vitally important not to try to force a cat into liking something it just doesn’t like. All you will get is a discontented kitty.

If you train your cat by applying a sense of what it likes and does not like, by giving it treats you know it enjoys and avoiding taking things down roads which simply make your pet annoyed, then you will get a lot further, a lot faster.

For example, don’t try to train your cat right after he wakes from a nap. And don’t try to train right after a meal, because then he is likely ready for another nap and won’t be responsive.

A happy cat is always going to be a lot more open to going along with what you want than one who feels that it is simply being prevented from doing what it wants. The psychology is largely universal, but many people think they can win over a cat through force of will.

This just won’t happen. Cats only respond the way you want when you give them some kind of positive reinforcement. For most cats, this means a food reward of something they really like. Reinforced consistently, and many, many times.