Category Archives: training your cat

Clicker Training Your Cat

clicker train martijnBy Julia Williams

Not many people use the words “training” and “cat” in the same sentence. The myth that cats are untrainable is firmly entrenched in society’s mind, right up there with the false belief that all felines are aloof and unloving. The truth is, most cats are perfectly capable of learning, but most people don’t have the patience, the knowledge, or both.

Is it harder to train a cat than a dog? I’m no expert, but I’d say yes because dogs are typically more eager to please us, which makes them more receptive to learning. I doubt anyone could train a cat using only praise as a reward. Treats are the way to get a cat’s attention.

I became interested in clicker training after watching videos of highly trained felines doing basic stuff  like sitting and touching a target with its nose, as well as fun tricks such as the high five, paw shake and hoop jump. “If these kitties can learn, so can you!” I said enthusiastically to my three cats, who didn’t bat an eye and promptly went back to sleep. Apparently they’d need some convincing. Oh, and lots of CANIDAE cat treats. Rule number one: never embark on a cat training expedition without a stockpile of the cat treats your kitty loves.

Next on the list: a clicker. You won’t get far trying to clicker train your cat without one. Although some say you can use a ballpoint pen, the click doesn’t seem loud enough to me to really get their attention. Clickers are inexpensive, though – I paid a whopping $1.99 for mine.
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Six Ways to Boost Your Pet’s Brainpower

By Linda Cole

When it comes to learning, dogs and cats process information in two different ways:  “fluid intelligence” (smarts they are born with) and “crystallized intelligence” (how they process what they’ve learned). This is according to Stanley Coren, PhD, a psychology professor and author of How Dogs Think. We can’t do much about our pet’s fluid intelligence, but we can help them expand learned intelligence and boost their brainpower by introducing them to new things that keep their mind sharp.

Increase Their Vocabulary

Most of us talk to our pet daily, but what we don’t do is teach them what a word means. Training is the art of teaching a dog or cat to associate a command (word or phrase) with an action. Even when we aren’t consciously trying to teach, our pets pay attention to what we say and can learn word association on their own. If you tell your dog “go do your business” and then praise him for doing it, he learns what that phrase means. Our furry friends are comforted by our voice and pay more attention than you may realize. Never underestimate a dog or cat’s intelligence. They can learn if you take the time to teach.

Work on Training

Teaching your dog basic commands helps the bonding process because of the time, attention and positive reinforcement you give them. Learning is a healthy workout for the mind, and daily reinforcement of commands will help boost your pet’s memory. Some dogs may be stubborn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them. Cats may seem incapable of learning, but they just need a little more incentive and motivation. With patience, dedication and commitment, you can teach a dog or cat anything that is within their ability.

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How to Train a Cat to Do Tricks

By Julia Williams

“Train a cat? Ha ha! Very funny. That’s a joke, right?” No, it isn’t. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to train a cat to do tricks. You really can teach your cat to sit, shake, give you a high five, fetch on command and any other trick you want. But (and this is a BIG but)… it won’t be easy. Then again, if it was too easy the thrill of victory wouldn’t be half as sweet!

If you want to teach your cat to do tricks, you need a wealth of four things: patience, determination, time and cat treats. Anyone who is familiar with the independent nature of cats knows why training them requires lots of the first three things. Unlike our canine friends, cats really have no innate desire to please anyone except themselves. As for the cat treats, there’s simply no greater motivator for felines than food. Praise? Cats have no use for praise, and although most do enjoy a good brushing or petting, it’s just not enough to inspire them to do your bidding.

So before you begin to train a cat, it’s wise to stock up on some tasty cat treats. You really can’t go wrong with FELIDAE TidNips™. These soft cat treats are made with real chicken meat and supplemented with Vitamin E, an antioxidant, and Omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat. More importantly, they are delicious! (No, I haven’t eaten any myself, but the reaction I get from my three cats at treat time is all I need to know).

If you let your cat “free feed” dry food, consider switching to two feedings a day and remove the 24-hour kibble buffet. Then you can try training your cat to do tricks before their scheduled meal time, which makes the food reward even more motivational.

Another important aspect of cat training is that you have to coax them to do what you want, such as “sit” or “shake.” When they do, say the command loudly and clearly, and immediately give them their food reward. You can also praise them lavishly and pet them, although as I said before, this is not nearly as effective as the cat treat.

If you don’t succeed after a few days (and you probably won’t), don’t get discouraged. Remember the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Simply keep trying. Trust me…training a cat to do tricks can be done!

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How Much Do You Know About Felis Domestica, a.k.a. Cat?


By Julia Williams

On any given week, this blog might be exploring important issues of responsible pet ownership such as grooming, training, health and behavior issues, nutrition and exercise. For varieties sake, we also include profiles of special canines and felines, like Surf Dog Ricochet, Nora the Piano Cat, and Scout, an Avalanche Rescue Dog sponsored by CANIDAE. Lastly, we’re not above having fun, which is why today’s article is a lighthearted presentation of cat facts. So read on and afterwards, use your newfound knowledge of felines to impress your friends!

Does size matter?

The average weight for domestic housecats is 9-12 pounds. The world’s smallest housecat is the Singapura. A full-grown Singapura weighs on average 5 to 8 lbs– but many weigh a mere 4 pounds!

The largest domestic cat breed recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) is the Maine Coon, one of the oldest natural breeds in North America. Maine Coons are tall, muscular, big-boned cats that weigh from 9 to 20+ pounds. The second largest cat is the Ragdoll.

The tiniest cat on record was Tinker Toy, a male Himalayan-Persian from Illinois who weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces fully grown, and was 7.25″ long and 2.75″ tall.

How do you say meow?

Cats have the ability to make over 100 different vocalizations, while dogs only have about 10. The most common cat sound is the meow. There have been 30 or more types of cat meow sounds recorded, and each means something different. Curiously, cats only meow at people, not at other cats!

The French word for cat is “chat” (pronounced like shah or baa), and kitten is “chaton.” The German word for cat is “katze.” In Spanish, cat is “gato” and in Italian, it’s “gatto.”

How fast can a cat run?

The fastest feline is the Cheetah, which can run at speeds up to 60 MPH over short distances. However, housecats are no slouch in the speed arena either, and can actually run faster than humans can. The top speed for a human is 27 MPH, whereas cats can run up to 30 MPH.

The fastest domestic breed is the Egyptian Mau, a small, short-haired cat with longer hind legs that provide greater length of stride. The Egyptian Mau is the only naturally spotted breed of domesticated cat.

The “tails” have it

Humans have “mood rings” and cats have tails. Okay, I made that up, but cat owners wanting to know their feline’s mood should look at the tail. When a cat swishes its tail slowly and gently, this usually means it’s happy. If the tail is whipping back and forth, beware – kitty is warning you to leave her alone. A quivering tail means your cat is very glad to see you. Incidentally, the domestic cat is the only feline species that holds its tail vertically while walking. All wild cats hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs.

Love them…or loathe them?

Ailurophobia is “fear of cats” while Ailurophilia is “love of cats.” Napoleon, Charles XI and Julius Ceasar all feared cats. Among the historical figures who loved cats was Abraham Lincoln, whose cat Tabby could be considered the very first “First Cat.” Mary Todd Lincoln, when asked if her husband had a hobby, purportedly replied, “cats.”

Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister to King Louis XIII, shared his home with 14 cats. Upon his death he left money for the cats and the attendants specially appointed to care for them. Ernest Hemingway supposedly had some 30 cats at his Florida home, while Florence Nightingale is said to have owned more than 60 cats in her lifetime. Lastly, gifted scientist and inventor Sir Isaac Newton is credited with inventing the cat door.

Can you train a cat?

Gretchen Lamont’s book, The Mail-Carrier Cats of Liège, was inspired by a supposed true event that took place in Belgium in 1879. City officials attempted to train 37 cats to deliver mail to outlying villages. Considering the independent nature of cats, it’s not hard to see why this plan didn’t pan out. However, with a great deal of patience and cat treats, you can train your kitty to do tricks. For pointers, read How to Train Your Cat to Perform Tricks.

Your feline’s trick list will likely not be as lengthy as those of the Moscow Cats Theatre, a Broadway show that featured cats climbing poles, jumping through hoops, twirling batons, riding tricycles and other impressive feats. Nevertheless, you might be able to teach your cat to sit, shake, and roll over on command.

Miscellaneous cat trivia

A group of kittens is called a “kindle,” while a group of adult cats is a “clowder.”

Every behavior of domestic cats has a parallel in the wild.

Cats spend 30% of their waking hours grooming themselves.

A cat’s body has 230 bones (humans have 206).

Cats are sometimes born with extra toes; this is called polydactyl.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Leash Train a Cat


By Julia Williams

I imagine that many people, upon reading my title, might wonder why anyone would want to leash train a cat. And yet, I recently discovered a website which claimed that “walking the cat is quickly becoming one of the hottest new trends.”

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. There are valid reasons for leash training a cat, but I sincerely doubt that walking the cat is “the next big thing.” I’m fairly sure you won’t see hordes of cat owners out for their evening stroll with felines in tow. That being said, a few years ago I actually did leash train three cats in preparation for my 1,000+ mile move/road trip. I’m very glad I did too, or I might be minus one cat.

My original reason for leash training was to exercise them on the long trip, which I did. But I also used it when Rocky soiled his cat carrier and I had to clean up at a rest area that didn’t have a lock on the door. With the harness and leash on him, I was able to tie Rocky to the sink so he couldn’t escape while I washed out his carrier.

There are other reasons why you might want to leash train a cat too. For a trip to the vet, it’s safer to have cats (especially skittish ones) leashed whenever they need to be out of their carrier. It only takes a second for a loose cat to bolt out an open door. Leash training a cat can also give an indoor kitty a taste of the great outdoors, without putting their life in peril. They can get some fresh air, exercise and tactile playtime while in the safety of your backyard.

Leash training a cat is difficult, but not impossible. Like any training, it takes time and patience.

Step One: Buy a lightweight leash (approx. 6’ long) and a harness made specifically for cats. My harness is nylon, but I’ve seen others that are more like soft, fitted jackets. Just don’t use a collar, as it can cause choking.

Step Two: Put the new gear near kitty’s napping spot for a few days, and let them investigate it.

Step Three: Put the harness on your cat when they are relaxed. If they don’t freak out wearing it for a few minutes, give them some cat treats as a reward. The hardest part about this step is learning how to put the harness on correctly. It should fit snug but not too tight, nor so loose that your cat can wriggle out of it. (You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your cat’s body). Repeat this step a few times a day for a week, to get kitty used to the feel of the harness.

Step Four: With your cat in the harness, clip on the leash. Rather than try to hold onto the leash, allow your cat to walk around with it trailing behind them. As in step three, reward them with treats if they can calmly wear the harness and leash.

Tip: Do this in a closed-off, uncluttered room to prevent kitty from getting entangled in something if they panic while wearing the harness and leash.

Step Five: Once kitty seems relatively at ease wearing the harness, hold the leash loosely and walk with them as they explore the room.

Step Six: Walk your leashed cat around your home, and again, use treats. Alternatively, you could bring out their favorite toy and try engaging them in play while still wearing the harness/leash. Never allow them to wear the harness unsupervised though.

Step Seven: Take your leashed cat outside for 5 minutes, 2-3 times a day. If they’re comfortable outside in the harness and leash, gradually increase the amount of time, and reward them with treats when you go back inside. This is where it gets tricky, because some cats will be at ease from the start, while others take a lot longer. Watch your cat for signs of stress, and bring them inside if they’re frightened. You want this to be a pleasant experience for them, not something to be feared. Give them however much time they need to become acclimated to this strange new thing. It helps if you have a secluded backyard, and you can take them outdoors at a quiet time of day.

You may be surprised to learn that leash training your cat is far easier than you thought it would be. Or, if your kitty is anything like my three, it might be a long and challenging process. It all depends on your cat’s personality, which is something you can’t change. I would never leash-walk my cats outside my own yard, because their personalities aren’t suited for such an adventure. However, if you have a very outgoing and relaxed cat that seems to love walking on a leash, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try it.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Keep Cats Out of the Christmas Tree


By Julia Williams

Christmas tree decorations come in all sizes, shapes and colors, from glittery round balls and intricate figurines, to handmade ornaments and whiskered cat faces peering out at you from inside the tree. Wait. What??

Yes, it’s true. Cats are the biggest Christmas tree ornament you will ever have. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me for suggestions on how to keep cats out of the Christmas tree. Nearly all cat owners have a story (or two) to tell about waking up to find the Christmas tree in shambles and their precious ornaments either broken to bits or scattered throughout the house. One friend even joked about starting a 12-step support group for people whose cats ruin the Christmas tree.

I sympathize, because I can relate. I’ve had my share of knocked over Christmas trees and shattered ornaments. But here’s the thing: expecting a cat not to be infatuated with your Christmas tree is, well, just plain silly. You can’t change any creature’s instincts, let alone one whose middle name is usually “mischief.” Simply put, cats love to climb trees. All of those shiny things dangling from the branches of your Noble Fir or Blue Spruce just make it all the more enticing to a tree-loving feline.

If your kitty is smitten with your tree, you basically have two options. You can forego the tree, or you can try one of the various methods other people have tried for keeping cats out of the Christmas tree. However, you must keep in mind that every cat is different and what works for one person’s cat might not work for yours. I will give you some suggestions for things to try, but I can’t say for certain that any one of them will be the answer to your trashed-tree prayers. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another. Above all, please don’t be mad at the cat for doing what comes natural to them!

The first thing you should do is eliminate temptation as much as possible. Ornaments hanging on the bottom branches and cords dangling in mid-air are a cat’s invitation to play. And if you have breakable ornaments with sentimental value, leave them off the tree. If you must display them, use them on a small tree you can put up on the mantel or some other place your cat can’t get to.

Various sprays have been met with success by some cat owners. Some to try include Bitter Apple, vinegar, pink grapefruit body spray, natural citrus room spray, cranberry room spray and animal-deterrent sprays. Spray your tree thoroughly before you put on the decorations, and spray the tree skirt as well. If one of these sprays works to deter your cat, you may need to reapply it a few times a week (be sure to unplug the tree before spraying). The exception is the vinegar; your cat will smell this long after it can be detected by human noses.

Other scented things some cats find objectionable are dryer sheets, orange peels, strong-smelling bars of soap and red pepper flakes. These can be placed around the bottom of the tree, underneath the tree skirt or on the tree trunk.

Double sided sticky tape is a well known cat deterrent, but it’s not terribly practical for keeping cats out of the Christmas tree. You could, however, try putting it over the tree stand and wrapping it around the bottom of the tree trunk.

Train your cat with the “coins in a can” method. Put some pennies in an empty soda can and keep it handy when you are in the room where the tree is situated. When you see your cat start to approach the tree, shake that can with all your might. The noise startles them and may deter them from investigating the tree when you’re not in the room.

If none of these methods keep your cat out of the Christmas tree, there’s really only one thing left to do. Laugh about it. And while you are laughing, you may as well redecorate the tree, and be thankful for the mirth your kitty adds to your life – not only during the holiday season, but every day of the year!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.