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Can you really train a cat?????

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  1. Sheila

    yes, I’d say that I am well trained. All three of my cats get walked with a harness. They love it! It was almost painless. It took 2 of them about 2 weeks to get in full swing with walking on a harness/leash. One of them took about 2 days. I’d say I take them out 2-3 times per week. I wish it could be daily, but because I can’t walk them all at the same time…..I would be outside for 3 hours a day after work.

    Wish I had known about the nocturnal trick when they were kittens. I get up for work at 4am and feed them before I leave around 4:30am. So on the weekends, when I’d love to sleep in, they make sure to wake me for their normal meal time. Of course, being so well trained, I get up and feed them and go back to bed.

    They’ve trained my husband how to sit on the couch so that his legs are in the perfect position for them to stretch out on . Apparently, mine are too short! 😀

    We do all of these things with joy in our hearts…never burdensome. Yes, we are well trained.

  2. Regina

    I’ve trained my cats. I got them in January 2013, and the first two words they learned were their new names, and the word “down”. Yes, I had to rename them because the person giving me the cats didn’t know their names.

    I taught them the word “down” rather quickly, because when I was trying to feed them, they were up getting in the way, and it was hard to function with them being so eager to eat (I don’t know how long they were living alone in that house, and how reliably someone was going over to feed them). I just kept saying the word down, and putting them down on the floor. Eventually, they knew what the word meant.

    I’m also glad they know the word “come” because one morning my girl darted out the door. Man did that scare me. But, I called her name, she turned and looked at me, and I said “come” and she came right back.

    My male cat knows what the water bottle means, so I don’t actually have to spray him every time. He just squints, and turns away, like “I wasn’t actually going to do anything”

    They know about ten or so commands, and are responsive to my commands. My cats were over a year old (according to the vet visit) when I got them, and maybe they were just so happy to have regular human contact that they were more receptive to what I was training them to learn. I think that if the love is strong, and the hand is gentle, they do actually respond well to any training (within reason, of course, they won’t wash my dishes!!)

    Anytime I just touch the laser, even if they don’t see it, they come running. They just hear the sound of me picking it up, and they are ready to go!

    I love that they greet me at the door when I come home. There’s something neat about coming home at night and seeing a set of eyes at each of the windows, until I get to the door and then they come to greet me when I enter. I didn’t train them for that, they just did it on their own.

    They actually greet me better than my ex-husband did! Yeah, these cats are my loves and that’s why I care so much about what goes into their mouths. I won’t even buy toys that are not made in the USA. If it goes in their mouth, gotta be trusted.

    There’s no way in hell you can tell me that those profit-driven pet feed manufacturers fully understand the love between people like us and our furry family members. If something isn’t safe for me to eat, it’s not good enough for my babies.

  3. Peter

    Bringing cats into our lives also brings many responsibilities. We must accept who they are as a species, and find ways to accommodate their natural instincts. That means including their nocturnal instincts into the plans we make for our own lives.

    It’s wrong to assert that cats can be “trained” to “not be nocturnal.” It would be more correct to state that there are ways to force a cat to suppress it’s natural instinct to be active (for short periods!) at night. Locking cats I a bathroom with the lights off, no toys, and nothing to do, is not good pet parenting. It’s lazy and mean-spirited. And it would put stress on his endocrine/hormonal functions and immune system. I’d feel desperately sorry for cats in this situation.

    The drumbeat “joke” that cats “train” people is not a funny one.

    Most people with cats in their lives will insist that they treat them famously. But in the end, most spend a lot of time walking the dog… but find actually “playing” with the cat, one-on-one, too burdensome. “The dog can’t pee in a litter box… he HAS to be walked,” we use as cover for this fundamental unfairness. The cat is waiting at the door, as we return from work, but frankly, we brush right by, perhaps allowing him a brief pat on the head, as we reach for the dog’s leash (or the TV remote).

    In the end, we really don’t know how to interest the cat… “chase” and “hunt” games become repetitious for us… and after a long day at the office, we are unwilling to bend our minds enough to create new ones… we are bored. So are our cats.

    We excuse ourselves as being “good” parents… after all, we’ve spent money on “toys”… most of which, the cat sniffed at once and never touched again. That’s not our fault, is it?

    Life is ultimately very dull for them. The most exercise many cats get, is walking to the food bowl. No wonder they stay up late at night… “annoying” us.

    Yes, some cats may or may appear to be “smarter” than others. And they are more interesting cats. But that line is more likely drawn by “dumb” pet guardians who refuse to invest in working to resolve that distinction.

    Cats sleep most of the day as a biological function. Bored cats sleep even more. We keep feeding them. After all, they “pay attention” to us when it comes to food. They aren’t so “snooty” and judgmental then, are they? They get fat and their personalities dull further. Some of us, even take them to the vet, complaining about our roly-poly former best friend… the cat ends up on mega-profit prescription diet food… the agribusiness conglomerate gets rich, the cat gets fatter, has less energy, and becomes a bigger bore.

    He becomes a bystander, in our own house. Perhaps, after a time, we begin to resent him, and the litter box doesn’t get cleaned quite as often as it should.

    Maybe we need a “new” or younger cat, who wouldn’t be such a bore. Maybe though, we’ll keep the existing cat… perhaps the “new” one will chase him mercilessly around the house, and “whip him into shape.”

    Excuse me though, as I write this. The dog needs a walk.

    There are so many things we can do to “catify” our homes (our cat’s “range’), and most take very little effort. On the way to work, we can pull some chairs together, drape a sheet over them, and create a “cave.” Perhaps… that took 45 seconds? If we contend that it is too difficult to come up with things to do, we should admit that we aren’t willing to put effort into parenting our cats.

    If a cat has things to do, has window shelves to survey the world upon, and ways to occupy himself: he won’t really be bothersome during his nocturnal adventures. And frankly, I’d be worried if I didn’t “hear” him up at least part of the night. Because that would not be “normal.” Perhaps THEN, I’d be thinking of taking him to his vet.

    Sehila, you put it well: “We do all of these things with joy in our hearts…never burdensome.” As you say, you are “well trained,” and it seems, proud to be. And it would be easy to guess, that your cats lead their lives in a joyful state as well. Godspeed to all of you.

    1. Sheila


      Yes, i know a lot of people who barely acknowledge their cats or hardly interact with them. Makes me sad to see. The “joke” about me being well trained by my cats is not meant to be mean spirited or flippant. In my case, and I’m sure many others, all that I do, i do for the pleasure of my cats, not mine. Though, inevitability, my pleasure is greater

      Some nights their running full blast across the hardwood floors sounds more like horses than cats, i would not try to change their nocturnal habits. I actually get up to watch the spectacle and shenanigans… Very entertaining. Although, I admit that 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have known any better not to try it.

      I know my life has certainly changed by living with animals and i haven’t always done everything right, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. Just like with anything else, much trial and error is involved. Hopefully, I’ve enriched their lives as much as they’ve enriched mine… Though I doubt it.

      I guess I’m saying… Don’t be so hard on people who make this joke/comment…. They just might mean it.

      1. Peter

        Sheila, I absolutely understood that you did not mean your observations to be mean-spirited or flippant. If that did not bleed through my comment above, it is a failure of writing. Your home sounds like a great place to be. And its true: they DO sound like a herd of horses, don’t they?

        I did react very quickly, and I think justifiably, to a veterinarian’s recommendation to force change on a cat through confinement in a bathroom, the use of what I would only refer to as a sort of “sensory deprivation chamber.” I do believe that that is lazy and mean-spirited.

    2. Regina

      Peter, you make some excellent points. So many people view cats as “so much easier than dogs” because dogs need to be taken out for walks, but cats are so self-sufficient they can just pee and poo in a box.

      I will admit that the reason I got my cats is because I was living alone, and would not be able to get home to walk the dog enough to be a good pet parent.

      But, I was so excited to get my cats, and the way they just fell into my life at exactly when I was ready for them, was fortuitous for both myself and my cats (believe me, these cats were lucky I rescued them when I did!). I had a room full of boxes for them. We all know how much cats love boxes! I will rearrange them every so often. I would lead them through a maze of boxes with either a long toy-on-a-stick or the laser-light toy. I couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on a big piece of “cat furniture” for them to climb on, so I put up a big ladder that I had, and I would hang toys from the upper rungs. When I would be gone for a while, I’d turn on the fan, so there would be some movement of the toys, to grab their attention. Of course, I only use toys made in the USA, and ones that I know are safe to leave for unsupervised play. I have my furniture arranged so they can play the “floor is lava” game, you know, never touching the floor, in some of the rooms. I just love watching my cats as they look and plan their jumps when there’s a new set up for them to navigate.

      I will admit to being dead tired when I come home, but I do greet my cats at the door, both verbally and with physical contact. If I’ve been gone for longer than usual, I apologize to them, and give them a little extra love. I have a cat toy hanging from the bathroom door because my boy follows me everywhere, so even if my first order of business upon arriving home is to use the facilities, I am able to play while I’m sitting there.

      My biggest beef with some cat “owners” is the refusal to acknowledge a cat’s normal “waste removal proclivities. Toilet training is one of my pet peeves (pun intended, grrr). Cats should not be forced to do something unnatural just for our “ease” or “eww factor” of the litterbox. I will admit that I was not a fan of the litterbox, having taken care of friends’ cats while they were away. But, we’ve got a litter that doesn’t stick to the box, and has excellent odor control, and no dust, so I am perfectly fine letting the cats do what they naturally do to eliminate waste. Heck, giving them better food means less waste (and smell) anyway, so what’s the big deal, people! How much time does it take to scoop, really?

      Some of my friends had some pretty lazy cats. I shared with them some of the toys I use, and now their cats are getting a lot more activity. I actually taught them that rather than just shaking the dangling thing in front of the cat, drag the thing around corners and such so the cats will actually “hunt” it rather than just batting at something annoying bouncing in front of their faces.

      I spent so many years avoiding animals because of my allergies, but now that the allergy shots have done their magic, and finally realizing that the dust from the clay/silica litters was the only thing holding me back, I welcomed cats into my home joyfully, knowing I’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for.

      I try not to take them for granted. I know there are times when I’m just too tired or busy, but, most of the times, I give them the love and attention they deserve. There’s places for them to sit to look out my windows and I am often moving things around for them to climb through (this does not cost me a cent, so there’s no excuse not to do it!) My cats love to explore, so I am always giving them opportunities to explore. I don’t fold up my reusable grocery bags, I throw them in the pantry in a pile and let the cats have their fun. It saves me the “hassle” of folding them and stowing them neatly, and the bonus play area for the cats is very much appreciated.

      Oh, and I’ve discovered that if I’m watching a show about cats, I’m not alone in watching it! The first time I saw my girl look at the TV in response to the cat vocalizing on the show, I knew I found something great.

      It is sad to see so many people just buying little toy mousies for the cats to play with, and buying lots of them because they’re so cheap and easy to replace. I much prefer interactive play. Heck, my cats don’t need me to buy toys for them to bat around. They find their own items to bat around.

      As for feeding them, I put all of their dry food in toys that they have to work to get it. I actually block off the top of the stairs because I got tired of having to collect the toys on more than one level, they were getting harder to round up (the toys) every evening because they were all over the house. I’ve bought mazes to put food in, but wound up jamming more stuff in there to make it more challenging for them. One day I was in so much of a hurry to feed them before rushing out the door, instead of opening all those cat toys, I just took the cup of dry food and flung it around, sending the food everywhere. They had fun hunting while I was out! I don’t have a set feeding time, because my schedule is always in flux. But, they are never out of food. They graze (hunt) for their food throughout the day and evening, so there’s always something somewhere for them to nibble. Sometimes I skip a day, when there is continually plenty of kibble left around for them, I just skip a day, and it’s not a problem. They wind up eating less than half a cup of kibble a day, and when I don’t see their water level going down as much as I think it should they get extra moisture with their food.

      I try to work with their natural instincts and find ways to keep them happy and satisfied being “stuck” in my house all day, and I really do think they’ve got a great life with me.

      I think that most of the people who follow Susan’s work here are going to be more responsible cat guardians. We already are aware of the fact that better food makes their lives better, so that level of love would also translate to more love across the board in all aspects of the cats’ lives.

      Sorry for my long post, I’m just so happy to have my cats. I’ve had them over a year and half, and sometimes people tell me I’m actually “giddy” just talking about them, my face lighting up, very animated (gee, pun?). My cats are my children, and I am a very proud mama.

  4. Ellie

    As everyone knows cats are best at training us and I am quite well trained as well as everyone else. I did, however, learn how to “train” feral cats. A few years ago I moved into a rural area where there were may feral cats and cats that had been dumped by humanity. At first I was like everyone else and thought this was not my problem but with the encouragement of a couple of little girls and after seeing how those animals suffered during the winters of the north east I decided that I was going to do what I could to help them.
    I went online and read too many articles by the “experts” that said there is no help for a feral cat. They said that there is nothing that can be done for them except trap, spay/neuter, and release. Not true. With a lot of patience and the desire to really help a suffering cat we have tamed and re-homed many, many feral cats and kittens. It has been such a rewarding experience. It is true that some are damaged enough that they can’t be re-homed but they are now tame enough to come inside during the worst of the winter and cohabit with the rest of the pets.
    I have seen cats that were trained to do tricks in videos but I really don’t know about the techniques used to accomplish such a fete. My efforts have been to overcome fear with love and patience and it never fails to work over time.

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