20 Mistakes to Avoid When Training Your Cat
Cats are unique animals that can be entertaining as well as good companions. Most are fairly easy to train, but there are a few things that new cat owners need to be aware of. First, you need to know that as cats mature from the kitten stage they tend to develop very individual personalities. They are intelligent creatures who are inquisitive by nature. They possess a great love for investigation and this could encourage undesirable behaviors. It’s up to you to offer the training that helps them to understand that these are wrong, and to replace them with acceptable actions. The goal is to help your pet to develop into a well-mannered house pet. With this in mind, here are 20 mistakes to avoid when training your cat.
Feeding kitty table scraps
There are many new cat owners who think that they are being good to their new pets by feeding them table scraps. The truth is that there are many foods that humans tolerate well that are very unhealthy for cats as well as for dogs. For example, dishes that contain garlic or onions can lead to severe health issues because these foods can cause organ damage. Excessive amounts of fat can lead to obesity. Fats also interfere with the normal functioning of your cat’s system. Chocolate is poisonous, sugars as well as sodium (salt) are also unhealthy. It’s best to stick with high-quality cat food that is specially formulated for the nutritional needs of your kitty if you want him/her to live longer and have a healthier life. When you feed the cat from your plate or from the table it teaches them poor manners. Even if your guests think that it’s cute to see your cat beg, it will quickly become a nuisance behavior and it’s best to start immediately teaching kitty it’s not polite to beg for scraps.
Not neutering your male cat
The local animal shelters are filled to the brim with kittens and cats that are unwanted. The only way to prevent unwanted litters is to have your female cat spayed. If your cat is a boy, then it’s important to know that as soon as his hormones kick in, he’ll have the urge to go out into the neighborhood and find a female cat strictly for the purpose of mating. It doesn’t matter if he’s an indoor cat or not, nature generally finds its way. Avoid being responsible for a new litter that could end up on the streets. You may wonder how this relates to training? For male cat owners there are other benefits to having him neutered as well. Your Tom cat won’t be as strongly driven to roam around the neighborhood, nor pick fights with other males. Neutering is also useful for lessening the incidences of “spraying” or marking his territory, which can be really nasty both indoors and out. Neutering your male cat will make him easier to train.
Using negative reinforcement is never recommended as a training method for your cat. Hitting or yelling at your cat will make him afraid of you. He may learn through aversion because of severe consequences, but you will be breaking your kitty’s spirit. Your cat will learn more quickly by using positive reinforcement to train him or her. A system of rewards including praise along with giving him special treats for doing the things that he should is far more effective. You should be consistent as well as firm in delivering discipline. Your cat is smart. He’ll catch on quickly, just let him know that he’s misbehaved.
Overestimating training time
One of the biggest mistakes that cat owners make is to plan for long training sessions. The best way is to use brief periods that range from one to no more than five minutes at a time. Be consistent and do it throughout the day. The repetition will help your kitty to form new habits as you go. If you spend too much time at one setting, your kitty is likely to become bored with it. It’s important that you keep his attention, because once you’ve lost it, the training is over. There is not more learning until he’s recharged his attention batteries. Try to avoid burning your cat out.
Ignoring good behaviors
This is another big mistake that needs to be avoided. When your cat is behaving the way that he should, he needs to hear about it from you. Praise him and give him lots of love. Use your voice to tell him that he is a good boy. When he knows that his behaviors are pleasing you, it sets the baseline for the do’s part of the do’s & don’ts. He will immediately recognize the changes in your facial expression and tone. When he does something that he shouldn’t, be firm with him. Cats are good at reading body language and this will help them to know when they are doing something that they shouldn’t. Always acknowledge when your kitty is doing the things that you want him to, especially early in the training process.
Letting bad behaviors slide
In order to train your cat, the right way, he needs to have consistency from you. If you allow unacceptable behavior to go, you will confuse him. He must be held accountable every time that he does something that he shouldn’t do. For example, if he shreds up the newspaper you shouldn’t just clean up the mess without pointing it out to him. If you do, he’s more likely to just keep doing it because he has no idea that it’s something that displeases you unless you let him know about it. Keep it consistent. If you come home, see the newspaper shredded on the floor, bring him into the room where the mess is located. Ask him if he did it. Tell him that what he hid was wrong and clearly point of the mistake. Your voice should be firm and disapproving, but avoid yelling at him. Your cat won’t understand every word that you say, but he will definitely get the message that you’re not happy and he’s in trouble.
Stopping instinctive behaviors
There are Some behaviors that just come to cats naturally. They are born pouncers who love to climb, jump scratch and sharpen their claws. Your draperies and home furnishings are all fair game to him until he learns that these are off limits to him. You can let your cat know that there are certain things that he can scratch but this means that you’ll need to provide him with the alternate resources. Purchase a scratching post for him, then train him to use it. When you see him using it, praise him for it. Every time he scratches something he shouldn’t, redirect his attention to the scratching post. He’ll quickly learn where he can satisfy the natural instinct that he was born with to sharpen his claws. This gives him an outlet to express something that comes naturally for him. Both you and kitty will feel more satisfied. Continue onwards with positive reinforcement techniques even if you get frustrated. In the long run it will pay off.
Assuming your cat knows right from wrong
We tend to assume that new pets know the difference between right and wrong. This is one of the things that leads to harsher responses, and it’s a common misconception. Assuming that your cat understands right from wrong is a big mistake that many of us have made, but it simply isn’t true. When a new kitten comes into your home, he really doesn’t know much, other than he needs to eat, drink, rest, play and go to the bathroom. He will be directed by his natural instincts and he doesn’t know the difference between what it yours and what is his yet. He’s a wonderful little blank slate and you need to help with his programming, so he learns correct behaviors. It is you who will teach him where to go to the bathroom, what he can play with, what he cannot, and so forth. Training your cat is a lot like teaching children right behaviors. Never assume that your cat knows anything, until after training has taken place. When he first arrives into your home, the experience is as new for him as it is for you. All it will take is a little patience and effort on your part to teach him everything that he needs to know. Soon, you’ll have a cat that is properly socialized who will become an amazing and wonderful house pet.
Allowing your kitty to jump on countertops and tables
Kittens may be cute, and it may seem harmless to let them walk along countertops and tables, but as they grow and mature, this is a habit that won’t be as cute later. It could become an issue later, so it’s best to start training your cat from day one, to stay off countertops. Teach your cat one of the most valuable commands besides “no.” This is “off.” When your cat jumps to a place that is not allowed, tell him “no,” then firmly tell him “off.” Point to the ground as you’re speaking, then set him onto the floor. Don’t forget to repeat the word “off” each time. It’s a good idea to keep a few treats handy so you can reward him for obedient behavior. Make sure to let him know what a good boy he is every time he obeys at the beginning of the training. As he begins to respond to the word off more often, stop giving treats but continue to praise him. Soon, he’ll learn that there are places that he’s Not supposed to go.
Punishing your cat
Many new cat owners believe that bad behavior requires punishment, but This technique doesn’t work well with cats. They are unique animals who tend to be on the high-strung side with regard to their temperaments. Punishment can make the stress level of a cat rise. When this happens, he’s likely to shut down, bringing a quick end to the training session because he’s no longer able to learn. You don’t need this kind of interference when you are in a teachable moment with your cat, so keep the ball rolling and your kitty alert. Training is much more effective when you have his full attention. This is why it’s important to avoid punishing your cat. Just stick with the positive reinforcement method of training, using positive techniques, even if it means that you need to go outside and count to ten periodically.
Setting training goals that are unrealistic
When you take a new cat into your home, of course there are some things that you need to set as training goals immediately. These include toilet training, staying off countertops and discouraging destructive behaviors. Discouraging rough play is another, and this seems like a full plate. Remember that this is likely to be new territory for the cat as well as for you. There are a lot of bases to cover, but it’s important to set training goals that are realistic, so your new cat won’t feel overwhelmed or stressed out. While cats are intelligent animals, there is only so much new information that they can digest at one time. It doesn’t matter if your cat is a kitten or a mature adult, too many new rules all at once can be hard to handle. Take it easy on your new pet. You can still let him know the rules without being a prison warden about it. Take a firm but gentle approach. Set reasonable expectations of a new pet because he simply needs to learn the new rules and understand them clearly. He’s going to need your love and understanding all the way. Start the training slowly, then add new things as you go. Certainly, don’t let bad behaviors slide, but a gentle and positive approach will help kitty to learn faster than scolding or punishment as he is learning. Try to put yourself in his position.
Not providing cat toys
This is one of the biggest mistake that cat owners make. By nature, cats are playful and inquisitive. They need to be amused as well as having distractions to avoid boredom. It’s important that they are provided with toys that belong exclusively to them. If your goal is to train your cat to abstain from playing with household items, then the best solution is to set the stage for success by giving him his own toys to play with. When his natural instinct to chew on something kicks in, you can redirect him to his toys. By doing this, he will learn what he can play with and what he can’t. You don’t want to have a bored cat on your hands because his inquisitive nature will urge him to seek out something to satisfy his curiosity and need to explore. It isn’t that the cat wants to be destructive, owners must realize that a cat is compelled by nature to look for things to play with. Your cat needs amusement, just like humans need to have fun distractions. When a cat has his own toys, the objects can be used as training tools. It’s great to have something to redirect your cat’s attention to when he’s playing with something he shouldn’t. This is an excellent way to teach your cat the do’s and don’ts of the household.
Allowing rough play
Kittens are cute, but their teeth are very sharp. So are their claws. When you allow rough play, they learn that it is okay to bite. This behavior should always and consistently be discouraged from the day that your cat enters your home. As your cat matures and gets larger, bites can become more damaging and injurious. Cat bites can be very dangerous because there is a certain bacterial infection that can occur, leading to the need for medical treatment with the use of antibiotic therapy and in some cases, hospitalization. It is best to train kitty from the very beginning that it is never okay to scratch or bite.
Skipping the litter box
Cats have A natural instinct to do their business in sand or loose dirt, then scratch to cover it up. This makes a litter box an ideal tool for toilet training. When you choose to train your cat to toilet directly outside, you’re making it harder for both him and yourself. Litter boxes are simple to set up. In most cases, all you need to do is introduce your kitten to the box. Take his little paw and scratch around in the dirt. Most of the time, this is all that is needed to get his attention. Be patient until he gets the hang of it. As kitty begins using his new facility, praise him for doing a good job and give him a treat or two. Once he learns that this is what the litter box is for, it’s the only place that he’ll want to go. Cats prefer to take care of this business in one single location. Most are clean animals who like to live in a clean environment. Some owners have found that if they place the kitten In the box about 15 minutes after the kitty has eaten or drank water, they have the best results.
Inconsistency with toilet training
If your kitty has an accident on the floor, the worst thing that you can do is to ignore it, or even more disastrous, to pull the old nose rubbing trick. When kitty has an accident on the floor, simply get his attention and point to the mess. Say the word, “no.” Tell him to go potty in the box, then take him to it and set him inside. Do this every time, even if he’s already gone. Praise him every time that he uses the box during early training. Even if you’re busy, be consistent.
When training your cat to avoid the negative behaviors, you should provide him with a moderate number of treats and praise. It’s essential in the beginning of training, but as kitty learns right from wrong, the rewards should be decreased. He will learn better that these are expected behaviors. As kitty begins to understand, space out the number of rewards that you dole-out so he will learn that This is just expected behavior. It’s good to use your approval along with pets and cuddles more than tasty treats. If you over-reward with treats, this could interfere with kitty’s appetite and he could miss out on eating the food that contains all the nutrients that his growing body needs for good health.
Throwing him outside as punishment
If kitty tears something up or makes messes, one of the worst things that you can do is to toss him outside as punishment. If there are dogs or other predators around, you are putting your kitty at risk for injury or even death. He could also run away or get lost. On the other hand, your cat may take this as a good thing if he’s having fun outside on his own and it could be viewed as a reward for the behavior.
Removing food and water supply
Your cat should be set on a regular feeding and watering schedule as recommended by your vet. This ensures that he gets the nutrition needed for good health. He should never be denied access to water because it’s necessary to keep his kidneys as well as the rest of his body functioning properly. Denying your pet access to water and food are not good solutions for house training or punishment. They are cruel land this will not prevent your cat from having accidents in the house.
Giving confusing signals
When there are multiple people in a household, it’s important to get together on how your cat will be trained. Everyone needs to be on the same page to avoid sending mixed signals to your cat. If one person in the house is making certain demands on a new cat, and another comes along with totally different expectations, your cat may become stressed out and confused. Put a plan together for how the cat will be trained and bring everyone on board so there will be consistency.
Forcing kitty to do something that frightens him
When a cat is fearful, he needs to be comforted by his owner. If you have another household pet, he may show fear. It’s never a good idea to force the issue to be close to the other animal, but rather, expose him to the other pet slowly as he is able to tolerate the interaction. Soothe him during the process. Let him escape when he’s had enough of the encounter. Your cat will eventually come around when he discovers that there is no threat to him.