Think Cats Can’t be Trained? Think again.

Imagine a world, if you can, where humans could communicate with cats. Imagine being able to ask your cat questions like, “why do you wake me up in the middle of the night” and “why do you hate me.” To our dismay the communication barrier has yet to be broken, but advances are being made!

The Trainable Cat by Sarah Ellis

According to cat behavior specialist Sarah Ellis, the majority of cat behavior is the result how we reward them. During an interview with NPR she said, “Cats are not necessarily born meowing and screaming at us for food, it’s a behavior that they learned.”  This goes against the common idea that cats can’t be trained the way dogs can, and that is what makes Sarah Ellis so awesome.

Ellis makes a crucial distinction between cats and dogs in her book. She points out that, “The cat…has evolved from a solitary ancestor, the North African wildcat…therefore the cat hasn’t had the chance to develop these social tendencies that the dog already has.” Because of this, cats need a different kind of attention from their owner.

The primary motivator of cat behavior, unsurprisingly, is food. You could train a cat to come to you when you call its name by using food as a reward. Give your cat a treat when it walks toward you or reacts to its own name, this will give it a motivation to continue its behavior.

So if you are wondering why your cat behaves in the odd ways that it does, consider that cats come from a very solitary evolutionary background. They can be just as cuddly, fun, and domesticated as dogs- they just require a different approach.

One final note when it comes to training your cat, never punish them for bad behavior, they tend to hold grudges. 

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