7 Mistakes when Training Your Cat

Cats are very nice companions, but sometimes they do things that we as humans don't appreciate! If you want to have a good coexistence with your cat, it's essential to get to know the basics about their training.
7 Mistakes when Training Your Cat
Samuel Sanchez

Reviewed and approved by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

It’s well-known that cats are very different from dogs in many different ways, and training methods are very different too. However, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of training your cat, even though they’re rather independent and maybe a little bit wild!

Felines can receive good training and live together with you quite happily. However, mistakes can easily be made, and, in today’s article, you can learn about 7 mistakes when training your cat. You’ll be able to avoid doing them in the future, as quite often you do them without even realizing it.

1. Mistakes in training your cat: not ignoring them

Surely you’ve often trained your cat to do the opposite of what you really want it to do, and you never realised what you were doing. According to National Geographic, by scolding your cat and shouting “no!” because they do something you don’t want them to do, you’re giving them all the attention they’re looking for.

Do you find that, no matter how much you yell at your cat, they never seem to learn? Well, it’s because you’re interacting negatively and, for your cat, that’s better than nothing. A basic training principle is this: if a cat likes doing something, they’ll keep doing it, and so it’s best to reward them when they do things well and ignore what you can’t stand.

This rule applies as long as you set some limits. If the cat is aggressive, then ignoring it is never an option.

Un gato sentado en un juguete.

2. Give up on the training process

Training will give you a very effective way to communicate with your cat and you may even find that your cat also begins to express itself to you in a healthier way. However, this process doesn’t happen overnight and requires patience and perseverance.

So, when you start to ignore undesirable behavior (as suggested above) you’ll need to stick to your guns regardless, as the cat will increase the intensity of the behavior until you stop ignoring it. This is a trap you mustn’t fall into!

The animal will then start to try harder. If you stop getting up to feed your cat in the middle of the night, it will probably meow even louder and even walk over your face. So, you have to be very consistent in not responding. Your smart feline will get the message eventually.

3. Not starting with the basics

To start teaching your cat to do or not do the things you want, experts suggest you train them to come to you when you call them. To do this, stand about six feet away, say their name to get their attention, and then offer them a treat.

If necessary, hold out your hand with the treat in it and then bring it close to your body so the cat will follow. Repeat this until your feline begins to respond consistently and then call them from farther and farther away. With this basic method, you and your feline will get the hang of the art of training.

You have to start training your cat with basic commands.

4. Don’t give the cat big rewards

After you have started with the basics, you can train your cat to perform more challenging and useful things, such as tolerating nail clipping or entering a carrier on their own.

The central tenet of this methodology is to always break the process down into small steps. For nail trimming (for example), start by rewarding your cat repeatedly simply for them allowing you to touch their paw.

If your cat is already comfortable with that, then give them a reward when you gently press their paw to get a claw out. Do it step by step. The first time just cut one claw, the next time cut two or more, and so on. The process may seem a bit tedious, but it’s worth it and the acceptance is usually lifelong.

5. Not giving the right treat

Make sure you use food treats that your cat is excited about. If kibble isn’t exciting enough, try special feline soft treats or pieces of canned food.

These rewards should be very small and you need to reduce your pet’s daily meals a little to avoid weight gain. Train your pet with very short sessions and don’t try to progress too quickly.

6. Abusing rewards

Experts say that humans who understand basic cat training can get their cats to come on command, take medication, and wait until morning for breakfast. This doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible.

When it comes to encouraging the positive things they do, it’s important not to give a reward for no reason at all, or to overuse these items. Otherwise, your cat will never understand that the treat is a reward for carrying out desirable behavior.

7. Mistakes while training your cat: Punishing them

The reason why you shouldn’t punish a cat is that it can be very harmful to the feline’s relationship with you. If you’re administering punishment (whether you’re holding a water sprayer, throwing something at the cat, or hitting the cat), the feline will associate that action with you, and not with the bad behavior they’ve carried out.

All you’re doing when you punish it is showing your cat that you’re not a very pleasant companion, as your presence alone brings them bad feelings.

By understanding this, the cat will begin to avoid you instead of stopping the bad behavior. By punishing them, all you do is to make the animal avoid you (in addition to the cat continuing to do what you don’t want them to). All in all, it’ll just lead to a broken relationship.

The most common mistake people make when training cats is to demand results too soon. If you’re patient, you’ll find that the training is worth it, as it makes it easier for you to take care of your feline, and strengthens your relationship at the same time.

A cat biting.

Now that you know what mistakes not to make when training your cat, you’ll discover that your cat isn’t  a stubborn creature that does things just to annoy you. Understanding a cat isn’t as difficult as you think, you just need patience and perseverance.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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