You can't train a cat, or can you?
In the never-ending debate over cats and dogs, a theory frequently advanced by the dog fraternity is that cats are impossible to train, and for this reason dogs are better per se.
The attitude is that, because you can find guide dogs and sniffer dogs, while there are no cats employed in these sectors, that dogs are inherently more intelligent and more amenable to training.
However, it is nothing more than invention to say that cats are too stupid to be trained, or so independent that they will not respond to training.
It is certainly possible to train a cat to a certain extent. Though the make-up of their character may be such that they will not ever become guide or sniffer animals, they are far from stupid and they can be trained.
All that it requires is a modicum of patience and a firm hand. Oh, and some treats may be useful as well. Cats, like dogs – and even humans – will respond better to any kind of training if their performance within that training is suitably rewarded.
In fact, it is precisely because cats are not stupid that it is possible to train them. In the same way as human beings and indeed dogs, if you create the connection in a cat’s mind and instincts between good behavior and good reward, they will naturally behave better.
Also like humans and dogs, cats have different levels of taking to training. This means that you need to persist, even if it seems that it’s never going to take.
When you want your cat to behave in a sane, reasonable manner it is only right to teach it good behavior, and to give it the kind of conditions that allow it to feel loved and give love in return – this way, it is a lot less likely to react to things in a hostile manner.
However, you do have to pick your moment with a cat, because trying to get the best response depends inherently on having the best conditions in which to train.
Analyses of cat brains have shown they are divided into many areas with specialized tasks that are extremely interconnected and share sensory information in a kind of hub-and-spoke network, with a large number of specialized hubs and many alternate paths between them.
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.