Cat Training… (Saywhat?)

Recently at the front of our reception desk we had a flyer displaying information on a Cat Training Seminar. It certainly seemed to catch the attention of several of our clients, and so many of them asked the obvious question… “How on earth do you train a cat?”.

I was embarrassed to find that I couldn’t provide a great answer for them. All the classes I’d taken or articles I’d read were centered on behavioral training in dogs. Well this past week I was fortunate enough to attend the AVMA Veterinary Conference in Denver, and wouldn’t you know there was a whole 50 minute lecture on how to train a cat!

The lecture was presented by Sonia Yin, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who specializes in the art and science of animal behavior. She focused mainly on 3 very basic commands: Sit, Target, and Come. She put these commands into use by demonstrating how they could be used in the household to redirect cats from undesired behaviors like scratching the furniture, jumping on counter tops, aggressive behavior toward other household pets or humans, and constant meowing. They were also put into play while training cats to be more comfortable with basic veterinary procedures like exams and nail trims.

Dr. Yin also suggests that cats are actually easier to train than dogs. If you’ve ever tried to clicker train a hyperactive dog, you’ll find that you have about 0.1 seconds to click and treat to reinforce the behavior you want. With cats, you’ll find that most of their actions are slower, so there is less of a guessing game and it’s easier for them to understand the behavior in which they are being rewarded. Most of the cats she demonstrated learned the command within 5 minutes! Here is the video on teaching a kitten to sit. Another benefit to training your cat is the quality time you get to spend together, and what a great source of enrichment for them!

If you have any interest in Dr. Yin’s techniques, check out her website at http://drsophiayin.com/. And if you really want some hands-on practice, you can check out the Cat Training Seminar by animal trainer Will Bruner on September 7th (contact # 323-6689).

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