You want to train your cat, don't you? Of course. What good is a cat if it's just living according to its own wants and desires? Training your cat is not impossible! This guide will help you get started.
Author's note: this article was originally titled "15 Things You Can Teach Your Cat To Do" but that's twelve too many things to ask of a cat.
What you'll need:
Before you attempt to train your cat to act on your command, know that this requires an incredible amount of patience, empathy, and a willingness to accept the fact that you may never succeed.
Start by bringing something to the exchange, like a food item that your cat wants very badly. It should also be expensive and hard to find. Cats know when something is expensive and hard to find. Try a rare fish, or an over-priced artisanal treat made upstate in small batches.
Create the right environment:
Find a clear area of your house or apartment that your cat is familiar with. Make sure shelves and walls are free of objects the cat may knock over, and get rid of anything you may throw in a moment of blinding frustration.
Keep the area free of anything that may draw your cat's attention away from the task at hand. Get rid of anything that shines, blinks, or moves. For best results, find an empty, windowless room.
- Sit -
This trick is probably the easiest. Start by standing in a neutral position and ignoring your cat. Pull out a treat, as though you have no intention of giving it away. After several minutes, she may become interested. When she approaches your feet, kneel down and show her the treat. Wait until she accidentally sits for several seconds and reward her with the treat. Good luck repeating this.
- Fetch -
Some cats do this naturally, but it's kind of an anomaly. Get your cat's attention with something crinkly or shiny, then throw it. But don't throw it too far, she likely won't even bother, but if she does, she certainly won't want to put much effort in. If she brings it back, reward her with a treat. If she doesn't bring it back naturally, give up. You only get one life, and to spend more than ten minutes of it trying to teach a cat to fetch would be an incredible waste.
- Stay -
Many would consider this a near impossibility, but it's just a matter of proper framing. Your cat will rarely come when you call it, so by default it is staying. Cats "stay" all the time. You just have to reward them for it when they do. Wait until she is laying comfortably near you, say "Stay" in a calm, confident tone. Then walk to the opposite side of the room and wait a minute or two. Then walk back and reward her with a treat. Keep doing this, increasing the length of time you are apart each time. Eventually, you can teach your cat to stay in the same spot for several hours. Let's see a dog do that!
Your demeanor throughout this entire process is crucial. Remain calm and patient. Understand that you are not in a position of power. You are not the boss; your cat is in charge. What you are doing is attempting to convince the cat that performing was their idea, and that you are the one they are training.
If you are trying to teach your cat to sit, she should feel like she's trained you to give her a treat, and she's commanding you to do so by sitting.
Hopefully, these tips have helped you out. Keep a camera running throughout this entire process, in case you actually succeed. Results are difficult to repeat and people tend to disbelieve you unless video proof exists. It's important to remember that this is really a war of attrition, a contest of indifference, and your cat will always win.
Jim Tews is a comedian, writer, and creator of "Felines of New York"