The Science Behind Cat Training: What Really Works

Cats make wonderful pets, but they’re also animals with unique behaviors that can lead to some frustrating situations. 

So, how do you train your cat? The good news is that it’s not as difficult as it may seem! With these simple steps and tips, you’ll have a well-behaved feline friend in no time.

The Science of Cat Behavior! – YouTube
Key Takeaways
– Training a cat requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.
– Basic cat commands include “sit” and “come” while more advanced training can include tricks like high-fives and walking on a leash.
– Avoiding common cat training mistakes, like using physical punishment, is important for both your cat’s mental health and your relationship with them.
– Providing cats with appropriate toys, scratching posts, and litter boxes can help prevent problem behaviors like scratching furniture and not using the litter box.
– Cat training can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your feline companion.

Do Use Food To Train Your Cat

Cats are motivated to perform certain behaviors by the food they get in return. In fact, many cats will do anything for a treat. This makes food an ideal reward for positive behavior and a great motivator for training. 

Plus, it’s easy to use: you can give your cat any kind of food as long as it’s yummy (your cat will let you know). 

And since cats don’t require a lot of their daily nutrients from their diet, treats aren’t that much of a problem when consumed in moderation so go ahead and enjoy those delicious treats!

Finally, one last thing about using food for training: be consistent! If your cat doesn’t get rewarded every time he or she does what you want him or her to do, then why would he or she bother learning? 

Make sure there’s always something in it for them when they follow commands so that they keep doing what needs to be done until they’re able to stop without help.

Training your cat can be challenging, but avoiding common mistakes can certainly make it easier. Our article on 15 Common Cat Training Mistakes and How to Avoid Them can provide you with valuable insights on what not to do during the training process.

Don’t Expect One Technique To Work On Every Cat

You may have noticed that not all cats are created equal. Some are more stubborn than others and some are more sensitive but don’t forget to consider the fact that each cat has its own unique personality, too. 

That’s right: there is no such thing as a “typical” cat. Everyone knows at least one person who is both smart and stubborn; maybe you’re one of those people! Just like humans, each feline has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so it’s up to you to figure out which methods will work best for your pet. 

Don’t be afraid if something doesn’t work on one cat—there could just be another reason why your kitty isn’t following directions!

Do Look For Signs Of Agitation Or Stress

Stress is a big deal. It can cause cats to lash out, become aggressive, and generally act out of character. So what causes stress? Many things. 

A cat might feel stressed if they’re not getting enough sleep, or if they haven’t eaten in a while (or ever).

Some cats are also more sensitive than others when it comes to training young kittens tend to have shorter attention spans than older cats. And some cats are just naturally more stubborn or independent than others!

The good news is that there are ways you can help your kitty avoid stress-related problems by paying attention during training sessions so that you can see if something isn’t going right whether it’s the trainer or the student who needs changed up a little bit

Are you looking for new and fun ways to train your feline friend? Look no further than our article on 15 Fun and Creative Cat Training Ideas for some unique and engaging exercises that you and your cat will both enjoy.

Don’t Let Them Get Away With Bad Behavior

You need to be consistent. If you let your cat get away with bad behavior, they will continue to do it. 

Don’t be afraid to use a firm voice or negative reinforcement when that’s what it takes for them to learn what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

Positive reinforcement also works just as well as negative reinforcement does in training cats for good behavior, so don’t be afraid to give them treats or petting after they’ve done something right!

Do Make Every Training Session Count

You may want to spend 30 minutes training your cat every day, but if they’re not interested in what you’re doing and they don’t feel safe and relaxed, then 10 minutes is all that’s needed.

Make sure the environment is safe: If you have other cats or dogs who might pounce on your cat during training sessions, make sure everyone has been separated first.

Have enough time and supplies: Don’t start a training session if you haven’t got enough time for it (or get interrupted by another project) and don’t do one when there are other distractions going on around you (like a phone call). 

You’ll want to bring along any appropriate tools or equipment as well and make sure they’re within easy reach!

Be relaxed: Your own state of mind will set the tone for how comfortable your pet feels; if they sense that something isn’t right with their owner (e.g., fear), then they will become anxious themselves!

When it comes to training cats, there’s always more to learn. Check out 14 Surprising Cat Training Tips You Never Knew for some unexpected and helpful advice to take your cat’s training to the next level.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself Or Your Cat If Things Aren’t Going Perfectly

Don’t be too hard on yourself or your cat if things aren’t going perfectly. If you’re like me, you may have had the urge to yell at and/or punish your cat when they make a mistake. But it’s important to remember that they are not doing this on purpose it’s just their nature! 

This is especially true for new behaviors; cats learn by association, which means that if something happens during training that causes pain or discomfort (like yelling), then your cat will associate those feelings with whatever behavior you’re trying to teach them and will avoid it in the future.

Instead of punishing after mistakes happen, try rewarding positive behavior instead. For example: if your cat runs away from its scratching post whenever you get near it with a feather toy or laser pointer (which are both common ways that people try training cats), how about putting some treats nearby so she’ll come back over towards them?

Be PatientTraining a cat takes time and repetition, so don’t expect immediate results.Reduces stress and frustration for both you and your cat, and allows for more effective training overall.
Use Positive ReinforcementRewarding good behavior with treats, toys, or praise can encourage your cat to continue with positive behaviors.Builds a strong bond between you and your cat, and creates a positive association with training.
Take Short BreaksTraining sessions should be kept short to avoid overwhelming your cat.Helps prevent burnout and frustration, and allows time for your cat to process what they have learned.
Adjust Your ExpectationsDon’t expect perfection from your cat, and remember that every cat is different.Encourages a realistic and positive mindset, and reduces pressure on both you and your cat.
Seek Professional HelpIf you are struggling with cat behavior issues or have hit a plateau in training, consider consulting with a professional cat trainer or behaviorist.Allows for expert guidance and personalized solutions, and can help you and your cat overcome obstacles and make progress.

Remember, cat training can have its ups and downs and it’s important to stay positive and remember that each cat learns at their own pace. By following these tips, you can help make training a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your furry companion.

Do Get Creative And Try Several Different Approaches That Have Been Proven To Work Well

So what works for one cat may not work for another. While some cats respond well to rewards, many will do better with a firm but gentle approach that emphasizes consistency, repetition and positive reinforcement when they do something right. 

There’s also no single method of training that works in every situation. For example, if he’s learned to jump on the kitchen table when you’re making dinner, don’t expect him to respond well if you try using food as a reward—he may think it’s part of the job!

If you’ve tried one approach without success, don’t give up; try again using another method or two before giving up completely. And remember: persistence often pays off when training our furry friends!

Is your cat ready to learn some tricks? Our article on How to Train Your Cat to Do Tricks in 12 Easy Steps offers a comprehensive guide to teaching your cat new and impressive abilities.

Don’t Give Up If You Aren’t Seeing Results Right Away

Don’t give up if you aren’t seeing results right away. A lot of cat training is about repetition, so it can take some time to get your kitty to do what you want. 

If your cat isn’t responding to a command after a week, try again later on the same day; cats may need more than one try before they understand what’s expected of them.

Do Set A Clear Goal And Stick To It

What you’re trying to do is set a clear, achievable goal and stick with it. This can be tricky, however, because you also need to avoid being too ambitious. You don’t want your cat training goals to be so lofty that they feel unattainable.

So when considering your cat training goals, take a look at what other people have achieved through their own hard work and dedication that will give you some idea of what’s possible! You may find that the changes they’ve made aren’t as drastic as you thought or that they’re harder than they sound (and vice versa). 

In any case, these examples will help put your own situation into perspective so that when it comes time to set your own goals for success in this area of life whether it’s getting more sleep or improving communication skills they’re realistic enough for anyone who works hard enough at them!

GoalDescriptionBest Practices
Litter Box TrainingTeaching your cat to use the litter box consistently and appropriately.Start with one box per cat plus an extra, use unscented litter, and clean boxes daily.
Clicker TrainingTeaching your cat to associate a clicking sound with a positive reward and training them to perform desired behaviors.Use high-value treats, keep training sessions short, and only click when your cat has successfully performed the desired behavior.
Harness TrainingTeaching your cat to comfortably tolerate wearing a harness and leash for outdoor adventures.Start indoors, allow your cat to get comfortable with the harness before adding the leash, and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.
Scratch TrainingTeaching your cat where to appropriately scratch, such as on a scratching post or pad.Provide multiple scratching options, praise and reward your cat when they use the scratching post, and discourage them from scratching inappropriate items.
Interactive PlayEncouraging active and engaging play with your cat to improve their mental and physical health.Use wand toys and puzzle feeders to keep your cat entertained, rotate toys regularly to keep them interested, and engage in playtime daily.

Setting clear goals for cat training can help ensure success and make the process more enjoyable for both you and your feline companion. By following best practices for each goal, you can train your cat to be a well-behaved and happy member of your household.

Don’t Punish Your Cat When They Make A Mistake

Punishing a cat for misbehavior can backfire, making them less likely to comply with training in the future. In addition to making your cat afraid of you, it can also make them afraid to try new things or explore their environment. 

If you’re trying to train your kitty to use the litter box or walk on a leash, for example, punishing them for mistakes will only make these tasks more difficult and stressful in the long run. 

Instead of punishing bad behavior (like scratching furniture), try rewarding good behavior instead that way you can encourage repeatable actions that are actually helpful!

From cats to dogs and beyond, our comprehensive guide to training your pets has got you covered. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Training Your Furry Friend for tips, tricks, and expert advice on training any pet you might have.

Do Play Games With Your Cat To Build Trust, Even If You Aren’t Actually Training Them At The Moment

You can also just play with your cat without any training in mind. Playing with a cat is a wonderful way to build trust and give them an outlet for their natural energy, which will help keep them calm, healthy and happy later in life. 

Playtime is especially important if you have an older cat who has lost interest in the outdoors or physical activity due to age-related health issues like arthritis or joint pain.

Playtime is just one of many ways that we humans can interact with our cats and strengthen our bonds but it’s particularly effective because it taps into all sorts of different areas of feline psychology at once: curiosity, sociability, competition/challenge-seeking (which makes them more likely to comply when making requests), and even predatory instincts (which make them more likely to behave well towards their owner).

Don’t Rely On Gadgets That Claim To Train Your Cat For You

Don’t rely on gadgets that claim to train your cat for you. Though these may be helpful, they won’t fully solve the problem of how to get your cat to behave in a certain way. 

You are the one who has the relationship with your cat and knows what motivates it best—not some machine or gadget.

Think about it this way: Would you let an automatic door open for your dog? If not, then why would you let a machine control when or what your cat does?

Gadget NameDescriptionWhy to Avoid
Purrfect Paws Cat Litter MatClaims to reduce litter scatter and serve as a litter training aid.Does not actually provide any training benefit and may make litter box aversion worse.
FroliCat BOLT Laser PointerAutomated laser pointer that supposedly entertains and trains cats.Laser pointers can overstimulate cats and lead to obsessive behavior, as well as potentially causing eye damage.
Meowingtons Cat Harness with LeashHarness that is marketed for outdoor cat training and can be used as a walking vest.Harnesses can cause stress and discomfort for cats that are not used to wearing them, and outdoor training should be done with extreme caution.
Catit Senses 2.0 Food TreeEssentially a puzzle feeder for cats that encourages problem-solving and playing with food.While puzzle feeders can be beneficial for keeping cats entertained, they do not actually provide any training benefit.
PlusPets Vibrating Cat Grooming BrushVibrating brush that claims to make grooming easier and less stressful for cats.Can actually be frightening and uncomfortable for cats, and grooming should only be done using regular, gentle brushes.

It’s important to remember that gadgets marketed for cat training may not always live up to their claims and can even be harmful to your feline friend’s health and well-being. Stick to positive reinforcement techniques and hands-on training for the best results.

Do Reward Positive Behavior Rather Than Only Correcting Negative Behavior

The first thing to remember is that positive reinforcement should be the primary method of training. In other words, reward your cat for doing something you like rather than focusing on correcting unwanted behavior.

The best way to do this is by using a clicker. A clicker is a small device that makes an audible clicking sound when pressed, and cats can hear it from several feet away. You can buy a standard clicker at most pet stores or online retailers; they’re inexpensive and easy to use!

Once your cat has heard the clicker, immediately give her attention or food as a reward for her good behavior this will reinforce what she did right and make them more likely to repeat those actions in the future.

You don’t need any special treats for training; just use whatever’s available in your house! Some people also find that their cats enjoy playing with toys instead of getting treats every time they perform well during training sessions (though some cats might prefer being given treats).


But don’t be discouraged if your cat doesn’t respond to training right away. Cats are notoriously stubborn and difficult to train, so it can take a lot of patience and persistence on your part before you start seeing results. 

If all else fails, just remember that every day with a healthy and happy pet is one that was well spent!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on cat training:

How to Train Your Cat: An in-depth article from The British Psychological Society that covers everything from litter training to behavioral issues.

How to Train Your Cat Using Science: A guide from Popular Science that offers tips and tricks backed by scientific research.

Cat Training Research Resources: An extensive list of research studies on cat training compiled by Companion Animal Psychology.


How do I train my cat?

Training a cat requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Start with basic commands like “sit” and “come” and gradually move on to more complex tricks. Use treats, toys, and praise to reward good behavior.

Can cats be trained like dogs?

Cats and dogs have different temperaments and learn in different ways, but cats can certainly be trained using positive reinforcement and a bit of patience. The key is to find what motivates your cat and work with their strengths.

Is it possible to litter train an adult cat?

Yes, it’s possible to litter train an adult cat. Start by providing a clean litter box in a quiet, accessible location and offering rewards for using it. Clean the litter box regularly and try different styles of litter to find what your cat prefers.

How can I prevent my cat from scratching furniture?

Provide your cat with a scratching post or mat and encourage them to use it by placing toys or treats on or near it. You can also use double-sided tape or aluminum foil to deter them from scratching furniture, or try covering the furniture with blankets or plastic.

Can cat training help with problem behaviors?

Yes, cat training can be helpful in addressing problem behaviors like scratching, biting, and not using the litter box. By reinforcing positive behavior and redirecting negative behavior, you can train your cat to be a well-behaved and happy companion.