Your cat doesn’t just depend on you for food, shelter and health care. House-bound cats in particular also depend on you for their education, for instructions in how to live enjoyably with us. Even though cats are ‘low maintenance’ compared to dogs they still need basic training instructions. It’s worth repeating, train when your cat is alert and hungry, for example just after it has awakened, and before meals. Once you have successfully taught ‘Come’ you might find that training is easier than you expected, and a whole lot more fun. If that’s the case we’ve also included ideas for a variety of other activities to train your cat to do.
This is simple and fun. What you’re doing is training your cat to follow a target – your hand or a short stick – in the same way it would follow more exciting things, like mice! You just show your cat a toy or a treat in your hand and when it touches its nose to it, you instantly praise with soft friendly words (like ‘Good Milly’) and give your cat the treat. Once your cat understands that it has to touch its nose to the treat – and this is learned fast by some cats and much slower by others, continue to give immediate verbal praise to the nose touch but start delaying the food or toy reward. Soon, just your words of praise will be enough. We suggest you use two different types of targets, your extended hand and another item such as a stick the length of a typical ruler with a treat at the end.
When using your hand as the target, present the food treat with fingers below and thumb above. Really excitable cats might bite your fingers if the food treat is too tempting, so take care. If you think there’s a risk use the stick with the food treat on the tip.