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Learn how to train a cat to come when called from board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. E’Lise Christensen, DVM in this Howcast video.
Many people think that you can’t train a cat. Well, they’re wrong. If you know what motivates your cat, you can train it. Now, training with Fria today is going to be a little difficult because she’s pretty snooty, but I’m just going to see if she has a reaction to her favorite treat bag. That can be a great place to start for coming when called.
Many cats know the sound of their treat bag and get excited right off the bat when they hear it. So, let’s just see if she wakes up. Oh, suddenly we’re interested. Well, it’s not an ideal time to practice coming when called. It is a good time to reinforce the association that hearing the treat bag means good things.
Now, many cat owners already know about the treat bag effect, but what they don’t know is that it’s really easy to capitalize on it to teach your cat to come when called. The way to do that is to pair your cat’s name with a treat. The great news is since your cat knows the sound of a treat bag or a treat canister, you can build on an already strong association.
So, in this case, you might say your cat’s name and then give them a treat. So, I’ll go like this. Fria and then I crinkle the bag which means a treat is coming and then I give her one. Now first, when you’re starting this you want to start right by your cat because they don’t really know what you’re trying to do. Start at a place where cat and you are most likely to be successful. So, rinse and repeat. Fria, crinkle, crinkle and then give a treat.
Now, when you’re ready to start working on coming when called you can begin working from a distance. I’m not going to do this with Fria today because she might walk right off the table if she happened to get up, but what you would do is the same type of behavior. Say the cat’s name, crinkle the bag and as soon as they come over give a treat. Eventually, the name that you give your cat for this exercise will become as powerful as the treat bag and you’ll see that when you give the sound of your cat’s name that your cat comes running for that treat.
Over time you can stop using food and use scratches or other positive attention that your cat enjoys as a reinforcer. Just remember that it’s not normal for cats to come when called in the wild, so it’s definitely a behavior that’s worth paying for. That’s how you teach your cat to come when called.