It is said that cats cannot be trained. This was perhaps the profound statement of someone who was trying to force their cat to do something. The object of training is to get the trainee to do what we want, the way we want, when we want. It is easier to achieve that objective with the cooperation of the participants. This is true whether we are working with animals or people.
Dog are generally willing participants in cooperating with our desired results. They easily give us a sense of control when we, ourselves, feel in control. Their cooperation matches our own level of confidence. Cats seem to enjoy challenging our personal sense of control, often to the point of frustration. They may allow us to think that we have trained them not to jump on the kitchen counter only to discover that is exactly where they go when we are not at home. They make a conscious choice to respect our wishes while we are around and other wise do whatever they like. With people it is a toss-up either way. In truth, we can only control ourselves, never someone else.
Training can also be thought of as habitual responses to specific events. We all have this aspect of who we are. We don’t like to think we are trained to respond in a certain way but we do. We can’t help it. We do it automatically. We respond to the same triggers in the same ways, whether we realize it or not. We’ve used these same tendencies in our efforts to train animals. This is seen with various training techniques such as clicker training and other forms of reward or punishment training. The thing is, we are already doing this in a variety of ways every day during the normal course of living.
Our cats have developed habitual responses to events that even they can’t control. We can utilize those responses when we do want to, not only when we don’t. Our cats are trained, even when they don’t realize it. Here are a dozen ways to call your cat whom may or may not respond to the call of Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.
- Open a can. Any can.
- Open the cupboard that contains the catnip or other treats.
- Open a door that you don’t want cats to go thru.
- Close a door that is usually open for cats to go through.
- Make your bed.
- Clean the cat box.
- Wrap a present.
- Open a cardboard box. Any size box.
- Bring home groceries.
- Open the door of a major appliance.
- Cook something they like for your dinner.
- Sweep or mop the floor.
Every cat has their particular preference of the things they have to check out. They are happy to cooperate with those things they are already doing. They may have already learned some new tricks without any overt training required. If you want to call your cat, do the things you know they will come for automatically.