cat training meme

Cats love to learn. Knowing that their actions will earn them a reward gives them a sense of control over their environment. Training cats in the shelter provides mental and physical stimulation, facilitates positive associations with humans, and can build confidence in shy or fearful cats.

When implementing any of the training techniques below, remember to work with patience and consistency.

Keep in mind you can address undesirable behaviours with Stress Reduction strategies, and you can promote desirable behaviours with Enrichment and Socialization strategies.

Training the cats in your care to wear a collar: We typically put collars on dogs immediately upon arrival to the animal centre, but seldom, if ever, put them on cats. Adopters are more likely to keep a collar on their cat if the cat already has one at the time of adoption. Learn how to train a cat to wear a collar.

Harness: If you would like to teach a cat to walk on a leash, you will need to teach the cat to wear a harness for safety. Never attach a cat’s leash directly to the collar. Learn how to teach a cat to wear a harness.

Holster: A great alternative to a harness is a cat holster. The holster prevents pressure associated with harness straps, avoids stress and frustration of putting on and taking off a typical cat harness, and is safe and comfortable. Find more about holsters.

Leash Walking: Teaching a cat to walk on a leash highlights the cat for adoption as they walk about the shelter or lobby area. The walk is a good stress reliever that provides the cat some time outside of its cage with an opportunity to play and explore. Walking is also a great activity for adopters to continue at home. This activity requires you to first teach the cat to wear a harness for safety. Learn how to teach a cat to walk on a leash.

Teaching Sit: Teaching cats and kittens to sit is easy, and it teaches them to be calm and polite, rather than to jump, claw or meow for what they want. Watch Dr. Sophia Yin’s How to Train a Cat to Sit video or read the printable version.

Try Clicker Training with Cats in your care:

You can use clicker training for almost any training exercise. You can teach your cats what the clicker means by pairing it with a primary reinforcer (anything the cat wants badly enough to work for), such as a food treat or a favourite toy.

Once this pairing has occurred, the clicker acts as a positive reward every time. It is intended to become a replacement for food and treat or toy rewards because clicking is faster than a verbal command or cue, and the click is a unique sound that catches the cat’s attention.

Clicker Training is a great way to enrich the cat’s environment and offer the cat the ability to choose to interact positively with us. We are actively engaging the cat so the cat can learn healthy ways to interact with us.

  • Can teach shy cats to come to the front of the cage and appear more adoptable
  • Easy enough for staff, volunteers and adopters to perform
  • Cats engage more with potential adopters

Touch the Target Game: Target games can help to get the quieter cats out of their shell and moving around. You can also use this target to lead the cat in or out of the cage, or move around inside the cage (this is handy during spot cleaning). The cat discovers new skills, builds confidence, and learns to adapt to new events. Find the Touch the Target Game.

light bulb iconWatch for any opportunities to engage in clicker training with the cat. Click to reinforce any cute or desirable behaviours the cat demonstrates.

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