Five Everyday Tricks All Cats Should Know

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Cat training isn’t all about high fives, sitting up and jumping through hoops. Training a cat to do certain everyday things can help them be better behaved, calmer, and even help in an emergency. Not to mention that the time you spend working with your cat is fun and can build a better human-feline relationship. I know I love my training sessions!

Here are five tricks all cats should know how to do.

Somali cat coming when called

Come When Called

This is one of the most important things you can teach your cat. If you are worried they may have gotten outside, or need to evacuate, or have some other emergency that requires you to locate your cat, this skill is invaluable. And it’s not that hard to learn.

The key is in a) consistency and b) rewards. Use the same phrase every time. Don’t just use their name, since you probably say their name when you aren’t calling them. Say their name, plus “come,” “come here,” or some other short command you two can agree on. And when they come, reward them with something they will love — a favorite treat, petting, playtime. You want your cat to associate coming when called with good things.

The big Don’t is never, ever have a cat come when called for something negative, such as when they’ve misbehaved. You only want them to associate coming to you with good things.

Somali cat looking out from a carrier

Becoming Comfortable With the Carrier

Cats associate carriers with scary situations — being confined and carted off somewhere where they encounter strangers who torture them (the vet clinic). So no wonder they go into hiding whenever the carrier comes out. Sometimes even before it even comes out!

This is unfortunate because in an emergency when you have to leave the house, that scary carrier could save your cat’s life. So work on removing the element of fear from the carrier by making it a part of your cat’s daily life. Leave it out so that it becomes a regular presence for them. Many cats wind up using it as a place to nap when it’s always out. You can also make it a play area. One of my favorite things is when my human throws a treat into one of my carriers. I love chasing after it! Carrier treat time is fun.

There is one additional element to make the carrier (and trips to the vet) less scary: you. Cats are very sensitive to fear (in fact, they can smell the remnants of their own fear in a carrier from past visits). If you are nervous about taking your cat to the vet — worried about your cat running and hiding, the drama of having to load them into the carrier, the check up itself — it actually makes things worse for your cat. If you can teach yourself to be calm and composed around vet visits and stop stressing out about how your cat is going to react, it will be better for both of you.

Somali cat sitting on command

Sit/Stay

This is a good one for cats that are often underfoot when you’re in the kitchen or doing other chores that your cat wants to supervise. Teach them that if they sit and stay in one place, they get rewarded with treats and praise. The easiest way to do this is hold a treat over their head until they sit back. Then give the command (my human just uses Stay. You can use Sit or something else), and reward them for sitting. Add a hand command to this. My human points, but you can also use the palm facing down.

Cats aren’t known for their patience so it may take some time to get them to stay for a significant amount of time. You will no doubt have to periodically interrupt your kitchen or other chores to repeat the Stay command for a period of time. But the rewards are great when your cat learns to do this!

Somali cat sitting on a towel

Sit on a Mat

This one is similar to teaching your cat to Stay, but you are using a small towel or mat for them to sit on. The mat is helpful because it adds an extra element that your cat can identify with. Ideally it should be a special mat used just for them to sit and stay. That way, you can put it wherever you want your cat to be when you need them to be still. It also makes it even more of a routine, and we cats love routines.

Somali cat on a harness with a leash attached

Be Comfortable on a Harness and Leash

Even if you never intend to take your cat outside for supervised outings, getting them used to wearing a harness and being on a leash is another valuable skill. If you ever want to (or need to) travel with your cat, they will be safest wearing a harness and hooked up to a leash.

This is especially important when you are flying. You must take your cat out of the carrier and walk through the TSA check holding them. Having them on a harness keeps them from leaping completely out of your arms if they panic.

Once again emergency situations are a good time to have this skill in place. If you are forced out of your home for any reason, having your cat leashed will help secure them.

So do take the time to acclimate your cat to wearing a harness, and put a leash on them occasionally just for practice around the house. If you make a game out of it, and include treats, praise and playtime, they’ll associate this practice with fun, and they will start looking forward to their time working with you.

So you can see why these everyday “tricks” are things every cat should know. And they can even be fun, when approached with a playful and loving attitude. I hope they help! If you have anything to add, let’s discuss it in the comments.

Here is more information about training, and growing your bond with your cat:

Five Everyday Tricks All Cats Should Know

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