7 Essential Commands Your Cat Really Can Learn

How Many Different Cat Breeds Are There In The World?

As an equal opportunity pet fanatic, dare I say cats are just as fun to train as dogs? Your cat will welcome learning basic directions, and most kittens take well to leash training too if you pair the lessons with food and fun. “Many cats love training if done properly, with patience and rewards,” says behaviorist Katenna Jones, ACAAB and director of Jones Animal Behavior in Rhode Island. Like with any other relationship, you get out what you put in! 

While cats can’t be trained to do the array of tasks dogs are bred for, basic training comes naturally to them. Cats will instinctively use a litter box, and common dog behavior problems like play biting, separation anxiety, and aggression are easy to avoid. 

Often, training a cat not to do something, like training them not to bite or pull on a leash, simply comes down to not provoking that behavior in the first place. If you’re leash training, opt for a harness instead of a training collar, which can lead to frantic oppositional reflex and might choke your cat. If your cat bites, teach her what to do instead by redirecting her predatory instincts to a feathery toy. 

The benefits of cat training are vast. “Training provides mental and physical stimulation as well as positive social contact,” Jones says. “Just the act of training in and of itself is incredibly valuable for frustrated, bored, shy, and fearful cats.”

Before you start your cat training endeavor, walk a minute in her paws. Unlike dogs who relate to their family like toddler-aged children, according to behaviorist Stanley Coren, PhD, DSc, FRSC, cats are more like teenagers. While dogs will cooperate for a few kind words, cats are motivated on a pay-to-play basis. Dismissive of our gushy excitement, cats will participate in training games only if the rewards are worthwhile.  

7 Tricks You Can Train Your Cat to Do 

How to Clicker-Train Your Cat

Cat training is a great way to connect with your cat and teach them the meaning of a few key words. “The important thing is to let your cat have the final say in what you teach them; not all cats like to do all things,” says Ingrid Johnson, CCBC and director of Fundamentally Feline in Georgia. “Choose behaviors that already come naturally to your cat before setting out to put the behavior on cue. 

“Keep it positive,” she adds. “Clicker training is a very effective way to pinpoint the moments your cat does the behavior you focused on.” 

Training, in a nutshell, is just assigning words to natural behaviors and rewarding your cat for cooperating. Here are seven words and actions to teach your cat:

1. Gentle

Encourage your cats to see hands as always rewarding. To discourage biting, dab your knuckles or the back of your hand with a little homemade or store-bought treat paste. Say “gentle” as your cat or kitten licks your hand, pulling your hand away calmly if she begins to nip or bite. 

2. Find It

Toss high-value treats at your cat’s paws, and once your cat can follow the toss, add the phrase “Find It.” Yes, it’s that simple. You can then play the shell game with Tupperware containers or even your hands. Say “gentle” if she claws or bites your hand, using a dab of cat paste to encourage licking. Reveal the treat after she licks or taps your hand gently with her paw. 

3. Target 

You can use a man-made or store-bought target wand or even the point of your finger. Teach your cat to be alert to the target by presenting it 2 inches in front of your cat’s nose. The moment she touches it, click and reward her. Once your cat reliably moves to the target, say the word “target” to put this behavior on cue. 

4. Sit 

Whenever your cat sits naturally, click and give her a reward. Soon you’ll notice your cat sitting to cue you when you bring the treats out. Add the word “sit” once you can predict her behavior. Then, try luring her into position with a target wand or pointing signal. Click and reward this pose. Gradually phase off clicking every correct response, using the clicker and treats intermittently.

5. On Your Mat & Stay 

Create a cat-mat by laying a flat mat, towel, or cloth napkin on the counter, sofa, or tabletop. Curiosity might not kill your cat, but it will get the better of her! When she steps on the cat-mat, click. Then toss a treat slightly away from the mat, so your cat has to come back for the next round. Gradually introduce using the cue “on your mat.” Once your cat goes to her mat willingly and remains there, introduce the “stay” cue. Use the cat-mat to encourage your cat to stay in a location such as her cat tree while you eat or cook. You can also bring your cat-mat on vacation or to the veterinarian to console your cat during check-ups.  

6. Come 

Cats can learn to come from the minute they enter your home. Pair positive experiences and the shake of a treat cup with the word “come.” To do this, put treats in a cup or container and shake and reward until your cat recognizes the sound. Click and reward your cat when she arrives. Slowly increase the timing between saying “come” and shaking the treats until she comes on cue. Gradually phase out the clicker and reward her intermittently.   

7. In the Box (or Cat Carrier)

Most cats will happily jump in a box or explore a bag. Having a direction for this behavior is useful when the time comes to pull out the cat carrier. In fact, pull out the cat carrier long before you ever need it, hiding treats and even feeding your cat or kitten portions of her meal in it. When your cat jumps into the carrier or a box, click and reward the behavior. When your cat prompts you, add the cue “in the box.” Gradually add carrying her about in her box/carrier, rewarding her after each ride.  

Lessons often require intense focus, so keep them short and upbeat. End each one with a bout of predatory fun using a feather flyer or a stuffed toy, letting your cat carry it away in victory.

Cat Training Don’ts

Cats don’t respond to or learn from discipline. Swatting, spraying, or startling techniques may stop your cat from doing a certain behavior around you, but they won’t stop the behavior overall. Your very presence will be a buzzkill, creating a suspicious cat who is wary of your togetherness. 

“The behaviors we see, especially the ones we don’t like, are how cats communicate,” Jones says. “Any method that is punitive or designed to decrease a behavior simply shuts down communication. Instead, focus training on what you do want, rather than what you do not want.”

The Joys of Owning a Cat

Owning a cat can bring unconditional love and companionship to your life. Having a feline friend can also help to relieve stress and improve your heart health.

Senior man lying in bed, cradling a cat in his arms and smiling

Owning a cat can be an extremely rewarding relationship. A cat has the ability to both calm your nervous system and provide an immediate outlet for fun and play. Although cats are independent animals who like to scavenge and explore on their own terms, they are also very affectionate with their owners and people they trust.

Most cats love to curl up in your lap at the end of a long day while you watch television or read a book. The simplicity of this act can cause an automatic release of all the right kinds of chemicals to your brain, allowing you to ease into the evening without the weight of the world on your shoulders. Any cat owner will tell you just how much their furry friend helps them to relax and unwind. While many people enjoy the company of dogs, a cat can be more of an acquired taste—but once acquired, it’s a hard taste to lose.

Why cats make great pets

10 Reasons Cats Make Great Pets

The versatility of cat ownership is one reason why so many people enjoy feline companionship. Cats make great pets whether you live in a big house or tiny apartment, and they provide all the fun and play of larger animal companions. If you’re thinking of owning a cat, these are some of the key benefits:

  • Cats are low maintenance. Maybe cats’ most alluring quality is that they are lower maintenance and cost less than dogs, who need walking, training, frequent grooming, and more toys and attention. Cats are also perfect for apartments or city living. They don’t need tons of space to play and explore—nosing their way through the nooks and crannies of your kitchen will keep them occupied for hours.
  • They’re quiet. Cats tend to meow when they’re hungry, but you rarely have to worry about being woken up or distracted from a task by a cat begging for attention. This makes them an ideal pet if you’re working from home or have youngsters napping during the day, for example.
  • They’re independent. A cat will be there for you when you need them but they’re also perfectly adept at entertaining themselves. Most don’t need—or want—constant attention and you’ll never have to endure guilt-inducing puppy eyes from a cat.
  • They keep your house pest-free. You probably already know that cats like to hunt rodents. But they’re also natural insect killers, too, offering the kind of household protection that Venus flytraps promise but rarely deliver. Many cats thoroughly enjoy exterminating bugs such as houseflies and spiders, almost like they’re being paid for it.
  • They have long life spans. The most difficult stage of pet ownership is parting with your beloved companion. While you’re still likely to outlive a cat, their longer lifespans mean you’ll get to have more time with them—up to 20 years, in fact.

The health benefits of cats

While owning any pet can provide a myriad of health benefits, there are some benefits that are specific to cats. They can:

  • Lower stress and anxiety. Cat owners know how one session of petting or playing with their cat can turn a bad day into a good one. Scientific evidence also shows that a cat’s purr can calm your nervous system and lower your blood pressure.
  • Improve your cardiovascular health. Cat owners have been reported to carry a lower risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Prevent allergies. You always hear about cat hair being one of the most common allergens. However, if a child is exposed to cats within the first few years of life, they are more likely to develop an immune system that combats not only cat allergies but other kinds of allergens as well.
  • Reduce feelings of loneliness. Cats make great companion animals. They offer an unconditional love that can be equal to (or sometimes even greater than) many human friends and confidants.

Having fun with your cat

5 Fun, Easy Games To Play With Your Cat [VIDEOS] - CatTime

One of the great benefits of owning a cat is that you don’t need much space to play and have fun together. Unlike large animals who need plenty of space to play fetch or run around, all you need with a cat is your living room and a little imagination. Beyond a ball of yarn, there are plenty of other ways to entertain and bond with a cat.

  • Play hide and seek. An old childhood sleepover favorite can now become you and your fluff ball’s favorite pastime. Just hide a toy or an object that interests them under a blanket, and watch your cat scavenge.
  • Blow bubbles. One of the greatest joys of cat ownership is their never waning interest in the ordinary. Blowing bubbles might seem like an activity you left back in the schoolyard, but your cat will be so taken with the floating balls of mystery, it could reignite your interest. Cats love to try to catch and pop the bubbles, just be sure to ALWAYS use a non-toxic bubble solution.
  • Set up a food treasure hunt. Cats love the excitement of a challenge that keeps their minds sharp—and their stomachs full! Place treats in hard-to-reach spots in your home and watch as your cat works to retrieve them. Cats are so agile you even can set up obstacles for them to navigate. It might even inspire you to be more active!
  • Use an app. iPhone and Android applications offer games to keep your cat entertained, including catching fish or bugs as they appear on screen. See the Get more help section below for more information.

How to care for your cat

How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Healthy and Happy

Although cats are more independent than many other pets, owning one is still a major commitment. They need a devoted owner to keep them as happy and healthy as possible. Cats need:

  • A fresh litter box. Most house cats are indoor cats, which means you will need a litter box. A litter box is convenient, but needs to be cleaned every day to avoid unpleasant odors. Pet stores offer litter formulas that make it easy to scoop out waste and control the smell.
  • Consistent grooming. Although a cat might not need the same amount of grooming as a dog, it still takes work to prevent your house turning into one big hairball. A weekly cleaning is usually enough, and you can find easy-to-use cat grooming tools at most pet stores.
  • A scratch pole. Many cats have a tendency to scratch and paw at drapes, furniture, and just about anything else that takes their fancy. Investing in a scratch pole or post will not only provide your cat with the scratching outlet they need, but also save you lots of money and frustration.
  • A well-balanced diet. Work with your vet to ensure your feline is getting a nutritional diet. Avoid overfeeding that can lead to obesity and other serious health issues. Also, be sure to keep their food and water bowls far away from their litter box to prevent any risk of contamination.
  • A safe environment. Cats are small, delicate animals that do well living mostly indoors. Although many cats love to roam free outside, other predatory animals and traffic, for example, can threaten their safety. Always monitor your cat’s whereabouts and keep an ID tag on its collar. Having your pet microchipped will allow shelters and veterinarians to easily identify you as the owner should your cat get lost.

Tips to manage cat allergies

You might be interested in adding a cat to your family but the only thing holding you back is a runny nose and watery eyes. Although it’s true that cats can trigger allergies, it might not instantly rule you out of owning a cat. Most allergies are caused by the animal’s dander and some breeds generate much more than others. If you suffer from allergies, it’s a good idea to spend time with different cats before adopting or buying. And if a friend or partner already owns a cat, there are still plenty of things you can do to help manage your allergy.

  • Restrict certain rooms in the house. If you suffer from a cat allergy, you may want to keep the cat out of your bedroom and restrict them to only a few rooms in the house, for example.
  • Wash your hands. After handling or petting your cat, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before you touch your face or rub your eyes.
  • Use air purifiers. Air purifiers fight against cat allergies as well as other allergens that might be lingering in the air, such as dust mites. Using one may help you to live a healthy and happy life with your cat.
  • Be consistent about bathing. Giving your cat a bath can reduce dander, while also keeping your cat sleek and clean.
  • Use antihistamines. Consult your doctor or local pharmacist about the best antihistamine for your cat allergy. Common symptoms such as a runny nose can often be treated with oral medication, while puffy, watery eyes can frequently be treated with eye drops.

How to choose the cat that’s best for you

10 Steps for Choosing the Right Shelter Cat for You | Wellness Pet Food

Do your research first, and then choose your cat from a reputable breeder, shelter, or rescue group. Things to keep in mind while looking into adoption are:

  • Kitten or an adult? Kittens are able to adapt quickly to their surroundings but will need house training and much more attention than an adult cat. An older cat might be a wise choice if you have a strict work schedule and don’t have time to fully care for a kitten. On the other hand, an older cat may have health problems, which will require more visits to the vet.
  • Shedding concerns. Some cats shed more than others. For example, an American Bobtail or Cymric cat will shed much more than a Siamese cat.
  • Health concerns. A healthy kitten or cat will have bright eyes and a shiny fur coat. Cats that appear thin or overweight or have a nasal discharge may have health problems.
  • Personality and disposition. Just like people, cats can vary in their personality and character traits. Look for one that seems to be a good fit for you and your lifestyle. If you’re hoping for lots of petting and stroking, for example, you may want to look for a cat that actively seeks attention from its handlers, rather than one that hisses or scratches. If you think you’ve found the right cat, try to make more than one visit with the animal if that’s possible.

Cats Who Made Us Laugh the Hardest in a Crazy, Terrible Year

After months of catastrophic news, we encourage you to paws for a few laughs and bat the end of this year into the litter box. By Tracey L. Kelley December 30, 2020

2020? Gak. Theft. The general consensus regarding the year of coronavirus, forest fires, canceled plans, and social isolation can only be summarized in GIF format: dumpster fire. Maybe a row of hostile emojis. ? ? No matter how you communicate your feelings about the 2020s most trying circumstances, skimming the interwebs for funny cat pictures and videos definitely helped to take the edge off! Here, we’ll share a few of our favorites with you.

Expressing Our Feelings in Cat Language

Amelia, a darling Russian Blue, demonstrates a more, shall we say, PG version of our feelings about this year in a nutshell. Not great. Two thumbs down. Yuck all around.

What is Your Cat Saying to You? | Cat Body Language & Communication | The  Old Farmer's Almanac

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCypIDJjiJy/embed/?cr=1&v=13&wp=600&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailypaws.com&rp=%2Fcats-kittens%2Fcat-photos%2Ffunny-cats-of-2020#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A7308.104999945499%7D

The Solution to Screen Fatigue

About those endless Zoom sessions: if your cat hasn’t obstructed your coworker or classmates’ view during at least once during our extended time working from home, your feline has much better manners than ours.https://www.facebook.com/v2.2/plugins/post.php?app_id=&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df247393b4a1ab38%26domain%3Dwww.dailypaws.com%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.dailypaws.com%252Ff170c579065deb4%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=640&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCatOHolicsPage%2Fposts%2F3473058529416998&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&width=552

How We Passed the Time

Do Cats Fart or What? What's the Deal Here?

There’s not even a need to explain why we might have been tempted to dress up our kitties when we haven’t left the house in 57 days. Dressing them up with a little friend to help stave off loneliness during our ump-teeth month of social distancing? Well, that’s understandable. At any rate, this Scottish fold (and her little friend) are adorbs.https://www.instagram.com/p/CFthTZjpzAT/embed/?cr=1&v=13&wp=600&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailypaws.com&rp=%2Fcats-kittens%2Fcat-photos%2Ffunny-cats-of-2020#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A7313.244999968447%7D

Speaking of Fashion…

“On the catwalk…on the catwalk, yeah, I shake my little tush on the catwalk.” How many times have we watched this hilarious cat fashion show? You don’t want to know! (Really—you don’t. We’re embarrassed.) But if you’re looking for a fun going-out look for your fur baby to rock once we can all leave our homes, these cat harnesses might do the trick. Work it, Kitty!https://www.youtube.com/embed/6xYRm7K2puo

Meanwhile, In Another Part of the House

Being in quarantine definitely created strategic alliances between certain members of the family. Take this very talented black cat and her tiny human apprentice, who’ve figured out how to escape quarantine like a scene from Mission: Impossible. Now we know why it’s so easy for them to stare at us from the foot of the bed while we sleep.

Well. This Explains the Toilet Paper Shortage

All those trips to Costco? We wish we could say it was only for the industrial-sized bag of Veggie Poofs. This Bengal kitty is more than a bit naughty with the bathroom tissue. Listen, Mittens—there’s a national shortage and the humans need this more than you!

Funny Cats from a Different Perspective

Maybe it’s our junk food-induced dreams prompting this Harry Potter meets Alice in Wonderland vibe, or maybe it’s the surreal artistic vision of Insta-sensation Koty Verde. The artist creates mixes like these with your cat’s face. Peek at the whole portfolio on Cat Universe (it’s a great way to break free of the zoom scroll).

Who Has Cabin Fever?

We’ve been cooped up too long in the house, or maybe we were just trying new dance moves but didn’t think anyone was watching. This little cat has a relatable moment with the mirror. Too bad their humans never left the house, so they saw everything. How embarrassing!