How to House Train Your Cat

How to House Train Your Cat

Last update: 04 August, 2018

Cats are curious, intelligent, and unpredictable animals. Their elegance and magnetism draw us to them helplessly until we end up taking one home. The first days of living with a cat will be an adventure for both of you. In this article, we have provided a guide for how to house train your cat and create a strong, healthy bond in the process.

A Happy Cat, is a Cat that Listens

The key to living happily with cats is a mutual understanding. You need to remember that a cat’s way of communicating varies greatly, depending on their mood and circumstances.

Dogs never have any problem communicating what they want and how they want it. Cats, on the other hand, can feel stressed or nervous without you realizing it. Below, we have put together a list of behaviors that you should pay attention to:

A cat lying on its back playing with its owners fingers
  • Hiding or avoiding contact with you. All cats like to have their own space to take some time out from humans who constantly stroke them, but there are also medical problems that could cause your cat to not feel well and to want to be alone. Consult with your vet if you think that this might be the case.
  • Constant scratching all over the house. Acquiring new furniture could change the way their territory looks, and they tend to mark their territory with pheromones. If you have renovated your house recently or there are lot of cats in the area, it could be that your cat is suffering from stress or anxiety.

You also need to be aware of their displays of happiness or relaxation: tail held high and waving, rubbing themselves against you, and wanting to play are all signs that your cat is happy and healthy.

House Train Your Cat: Techniques and Tips

As you might expect, you will never be able to bend an animal’s will to make them do something that goes against their instinct or seems unnatural. However, what you can do as a responsible owner is to channel energy and improve your cat’s ability. With the right stimulus, you will be able to get them to respond the way you want them to.

The aim is to teach your cat to associate a particular behavior with an order or an action. What techniques should you be aware of to reach this point in your relationship with your cat?

  • Firstly, you need to begin with positive reinforcement. A prize or gift will be the perfect stimulus for a cat. Once their behaviour has become instinctive, you will not need to reward them anymore. You should try to withdraw the prize gradually and substitute it with praise and stroking. Bear in mind that your cat will naturally tend to repeat actions that have positive consequences.
  • Be coherent. This is essential. An animal will never learn to behave how you want them to if you are constantly changing the rules. You need to try and use the same phrase or stimulus. Once they have learned the behavior, you will not need to repeat it.
  • Begin to house train your cat as early as you can. The ideal time to start to house train your cat is when she is still a kitten, when she will learn things much quicker. It is really important that your cat gets used to having humans around her too.
  • Negative reinforcement. Cats tend to have a problem with furniture, plants, and food. You should never physically harm your cat, instead try to educate them. Generally, they respond to suddenly raising your voice. (Such as, when you say “NO!” or “GET OUT!”) If this does not work you can resort to a spray bottle of water as a deterrent.
To house-train your cat it's important to use a reward system

Training with a Clicker: What is it?

Training with a clicker is a method which does not use negative reinforcement. It is based on the use of a small plastic device which makes a clicking sound when it is opened. The sound is a bit strange for the cat in their environment. Thanks to its specification, your cat will be able to associate it clearly with an order.

It is worth pointing out that training with a clicker requires patience and progressive objectives. Firstly, your cat needs to be familiar with the sound, and then, you need to give them a prize or a reward which will make them realize that it is worth paying attention to.

Here are some tips for using this device effectively:

  • The “click” sound should be made during the desired behavior, not after.
  • You should only “click” once per behavior. Otherwise you may confuse your cat.
  • Begin with small actions that your cat can do on their own such as, sitting or responding to your call.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.