Sponsored Post: Benefits of Training Your Cat
This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance by Rachel Turner.
‘Trained cat.” For cat owners like me, that phrase sounds like a contradiction in terms. In fact, sometimes it feels as if the cat’s actually training us. My cat, Moo, is a particularly good human trainer. If I’m having a lie-in, she’ll jump on my clock radio and paw it until she finds the ‘on’ button. Once woken by a blast of Chris Moyles in my ear, I obediently go and get busy with the tin opener. One-nil … to the cat.
But according to feline experts, cats do respond well to training. For starters, there are simple behavioral methods you can use with cats that eliminate unwanted habits, such as scratching furniture, biting, or refusing to use a litter tray.When we first got Moo as a young cat, we were quite successful in using some behaviour modification techniques to stop her from scratching our brand new suede sofa. We kept a small box of coins close by and shook it when she was caught in the act – loud enough to deter her, but not loudly or closely enough to cause her any harm. The noise served as a subtle reminder and she was then promptly taken to her scratching post. She soon got the message.
Vets can often help if your cat has a specific behavioural problem, particularly if it’s one that affects their health. Ours was invaluable when Moo started biting at her own fur, causing bald spots. After ruling out skin disorders or flea infestations, he told us it was most probably an anxiety-related disorder. Asking us a few questions, he concluded it may have been caused by next-door’s cat, who had taken to coming in to our house through the cat flap. We put a stop to that and, thankfully, Moo’s fur started growing back. Before visiting your vet to check that your cat does not have any underlying health conditions that could be causing the unwanted behaviour, you may want to consider taking out pet insurance coverage, as vet bills can be expensive.
Apart from behaviour modification, there are also those who believe you can – and should – take cat training further. Some cat behavioural specialists have used clicker training, similar to that used on dogs, to great effect. Some interesting training videos are available from the Feline Advisory Bureau that show the use of clicker training to help a cat get used to its kitty carrier and collar.
Once your cat is used to his kitty carrier and collar, it won’t take long to train him to travel with you. The two most important things are to get him used to the car and comfortable wearing a harness and walking on a leash. Break each goal into small steps and allow your cat to adjust slowly using lots of praise and treats. If you practice every day, within a couple weeks you should be well on your way to your first pet friendly vacation.
There’s also a school of thought that believes training your cat to perform little tricks in return for cat treats could have enormous benefits for both animal and owner, helping the two of you bond and providing physical and mental stimulation for your pet.
Getting cats to work for their food – particularly if it’s a treat – mimics how they’d use their kitty skills in the wild, so they become happier and healthier as a result.
I’m definitely going to try it with Moo. Plus, if she masters how to roll over, sit up and beg or fetch, we’ll be the talk of our neighbourhood – and possibly the next winners of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent! Well, if it’s good enough for Pudsey…
Guest blogger Rachel Turner is a proud mum of two boys, who lives and works in Brighton. This post was issued on behalf of Sainsbury’s Bank.
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