This article teaches you how to effectively house train your kitten or cat. The tips that are in this article will give you helpful instructions to teach your feline to come on command, use a litter box or toilet and more.
About your cat
Some researchers claim that domesticated cats have been around for about 8,000 years, and some in the debate say that the cat that we know has been with us for over 12,000 years. What is known for sure though is that they descended from a Middle Eastern wildcat called Felis Sylvestris which when translated means “cats of the forests.”
It didn’t take long either for the idea of owning a cat to catch on. The Egyptians revered cats for example. They even had a goddess named Bastet which had the head of a cat and the body of a woman. Bastet was the goddess of love, and a person was killed for harming or killing a cat. So, your cat has a long ancestry as well as being revered and worshiped in Egypt. No wonder cats have an attitude, and this could help to explain it!
Ancient Romans also held cats in high regard because they perceived the cat as a symbol of liberty. The Far East found cats valuable with their mouse and rat hunting ability because they protected treasured manuscripts. Also, cats protected stores of grains and perishable food from rodents. The cats were thrilled with the large amount of prey, and the people were happy with the free pest control. It’s interesting how cat owners appreciate the same qualities in today’s mousers.
However, in the Middle Ages, cats became associated with witches and evil doing. Many felines were killed to ward off evil. It wasn’t a smart move by the people of the Middle Ages at all. Scholars believe that killing off the cats helped contribute to the ravishing spread of the Black Plague too. The Black Plaque is a disease carried by fleas that inhabit rats, and there weren’t enough felines left to kill them. Finally, though, cats regained their public image of usefulness again in the 1600’s. In today’s age, the cat is a welcome addition to the family and home.
Some facts about cats
There are some interesting facts about cats starting with the thirty very sharp pointy teeth in their heads. It might be something which you know firsthand though if your cat, Lily, as we’ll call her has ever nipped you. Some other facts about Lily and her cat relatives are listed below:
- A nictitating membrane, which is also known as the third eyelid, is located on the inside of the corner of her eye. This extra eyelid’s function is for extra protection of the feline’s eye. Cats also have a reflective layer in their eyes which is called the tapetum lucidum. Its purpose is to magnify incoming light. It permits Lily to see six times better than you can in low-level light.
- You only have 12 muscles in your ears, but Lily has 32. It gives her the ability to find prey by location; especially when that prey is the bag of her favorite treats that you’re opening. She can also hear higher and lower frequencies that you can. Her ears additionally help her to keep her balance because of how her inner ear works and to right herself back up when she’s falling.
- Believe it or not, what the texture of Lily’s cat food feels like on her tongue is more important to her even than the taste of the food. In addition, your feline friend’s tongue feels like sandpaper because of tiny barbs which cover it. These barbs face backward to help guide her food to the back of her mouth. Of course, her tongue is perfect for grooming herself and you. Has she ever d groomed the hair on your head without your permission? It not only tugs your hair but wets it down as well.
- Lily’s claws are retractable, sharp and used as lethal weapons when she needs them. Because they retract, the nails stay sharp for climbing and defense. Too, buying your cat a scratching post is necessary for the safety of your furniture. Then you need to give her cat training lessons on not using your furniture for a scratching post as she files her nails. A cat can shred a new couch in no time at all.
- When Lily rubs against you, she’s not only showing affection, but also marking you. She has scent glands not only on her cheeks but around her whiskers too. Her rubs say that you belong to her as her very own. So, when she rubs against you, her scent transfers onto you. Her whiskers are important for other reasons. The long whiskers attached to your cat’s face and mouth are part of how they use their sense of touch. They judge the size of openings by nerve cells at the base of the whiskers. Her whiskers let Lily know about changes in air pressure and anything she happens to touch with them.
Are some cat breeds easier to train than others?
Cat owners often wonder if a particular cat breed is easier to train than another breed. There are some breeds which are more trainable than others. Below are some cat breeds who may cooperate with the instructions you find on how to train a cat:
- Abyssinian: This cat excels at tricks because of his highly acrobatic physic, and daring do This feline has a personality which is very personable. An Abyssinian can be taught how to walk on a leash because he likes to get out be in view of his admiring public.
- American Shorthair/Domestic Shorthair: The American Shorthair has a pedigree behind them while the Domestic Shorthair is random-bred. But either one is tolerant, easygoing, patient, highly intelligent and adaptable. They will respond to requests (you don’t give a cat a command, you provide them with a request) such as come, down and sit. If they are in a good mood, you can teach them to walk on a leash and use a scratching post.
- Bengal: This cat is highly curious, intelligent and extremely active. He’s a cat that will teach himself how to turn on a faucet so that he can get a fresh drink. A Bengal needs entertaining, so he’ll play fetch and go for walks on a leash, or for example, you may find him pawing through cabinets for fun.
- Savannah: If you like a cat with a sense of humor, this is the cat for you. A Savannah enjoys pushing things off tables to get your attention. Or a Savannah could turn on the sink faucet so he can play in sink tub. If you keep this cat occupied with interactive toys, he’ll stay out of trouble. By teaching him to walk on a leash, it gives both his body and brain needed exercise.
- Siamese: A Siamese lets you know that he’s in the room. A Siamese is smart, demanding, vocal and curious. They like to be where you are, involved in whatever you’re doing. If you aren’t around to entertain them, they will entertain themselves. A Siamese may rummage through left open drawers or even watch TV. They can be taught to perform tricks and play fetch.
- Bombay: A Bombay cat has a dark ebony coat and copper-colored eyes. Their appearance resembles the black leopards of India. These cats are highly trainable and extremely friendly. They can be taught to be walked on leashes and to fetch.
- Maine Coons: These big semi-longhaired felines have a friendly and sweet nature. They like to find odd places to curl up and sleep. A Maine Coon will use its paws to pick up objects. These cats can be taught to turn on a light, fetch or activate water faucets. Chasing or retrieving a thrown item is a game which Maine Coons enjoy.
Why are cats harder to train than dogs?
How you train your dog is not the same as training your cat. Since these animals are two entirely different species, the same training techniques won’t work. For instance, a dog is a pack animal who responds to the pack leader. You are that leader to your canine friend. Canines have developed a close bond to humans and will check for cues from you. These cues will let your dog know what’s expected of him when it’s mealtime, and when you want to show affection.
A cat, on the other hand, is a solitary creature and doesn’t need leadership to survive. A feline will bond to the territory that he claims. He will hunt on it, if necessary, for survival. A cat could never domesticate the same way a dog does. Initially, people permitted cats to be in and around the home because of their vermin killing ability. Also, until about two hundred years ago, cats weren’t bred strategically. So, the behavior of a feline is similar to cats which are wild.
A cat can be, however, trained with “clicker training” and will meow for food, affection, and attention. It is a trait not found in feral cats. But, a cat’s behavior will never be like a dog’s behavior. For many cats, walking on a leash could cause the cat stress if they don’t like it as an example. Can you imagine this in a dog? It’s because you’re removing your kitty from a territory which is familiar. A dog, though, will go for a walk happily because he’s bonded to you and likes to go where you do.
1. How to litter train a cat or kitten
We’ve gone over the history, general information, difference in cat breeds and why it’s different training a cat than a dog. The next step is how to litter train a kitten and what you need to do before you bring her home.
Litter training tips
It’s true that making sure that your home is kitten proofed, buying healthy high-quality food, having an appointment at the vet set up and lots of love is important. But, another essential item is the litter box. Now you’re probably wondering why litter box training is such an important subject. It can become a problem quickly if your cat isn’t litter box trained. So, if your new kitty, Lily, doesn’t decide to use it, the issue can become a major headache.
Again true, most cats and kittens will use a litter box instinctively when they see one. But if you know some basic knowledge on the ins and outs of litter boxes, then litter box training a kitten will be a breeze. It’s better to nip a potential problem before it grows out of control. So first, we’ll go over litter box basics.
Litter box basics you need to know
All cats have an instinct which comes naturally to eliminate in soil or sand. A kitten learns this from watching her mother eliminate and then cover the waste. Lily has probably been using the litter box since she’s been about three or four weeks old. Still, she needs to become familiar with one when you bring her into your home.
The first thing when you’re litter training a kitten is to make sure your little fur baby knows where her litter box is. Her surroundings are new to her, and she could become confused. Also, be certain you place it in a location that’s easy for her to access and it isn’t in a noisy area. If the area is too loud from foot traffic or buzzers on appliances, then Lily may choose another place not to your liking to relieve herself.
So, after Lily is home for a little bit and she’s sniffed around, take her to her litter box. When you place her in the box, take her front paws and gently make a scratching motion in the litter with them. She may be startled and pop right back out again. Don’t worry; it’s a natural reaction. Throughout the day, place her in the box when you think she would usually need to use it. It could be when she gets up first thing in the morning, right after Lily eats after she’s been playing, and when she wakes up from a catnap. One thing to keep in mind on how to litter box train a kitten is that she likes privacy. So, when you feel certain she’s using the litter box correctly, let her use it in peace.
On the average, a kitten or cat will adjust a new litter box without an incident. But, if your kitty does have one, don’t scold her or punish her. If you use a squirt bottle on Lily or yell, you’ll only scare and confuse her. Just clean up the spot and use an enzyme cleaner to remove odor and stain. Go back to step one which is placing her in the litter box until she uses it on her own.
However, if Lily keeps having accidents, or if she seems to be straining or has diarrhea, you need to take her to see a vet. Your kitty may have a medical problem such as worms or a urinary tract infection. Both issues will cause litter box usage to stop and discomfort to your pet.
If Lily’s litter box smells like too much of urine or is dirty, she may not use it either. It needs to be cleaned daily, and the litter changed once a week and replaced. When changing the litter, rinse the box thoroughly and use a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to neutralize the odor. Dry thoroughly and then add fresh litter.
Other litter box concerns
When you have a cat, the rules on how to litter box train a cat are pretty much the same. But what if your cat or kitten has been outside on his own and using dirt or mulch as a litter box? The question then is, how to train a cat to use a litter box if he’s been going outside?
If you bring in an outside cat then, we’ll name him Harker, and want to train him for a litter box; there is a way to do it. Take the litter box and put mulch in it and show Harker where it is. Once he starts to use it, then you need to replace the mulch with litter gradually. It may take one or two weeks, but don’t rush it. Once Harker gets used to going in the litter box with the litter, then you can discontinue the mulch.
Another rule is, if you have two or more cats, you need to have one litter box per cat plus one extra overall. The reason is some cats won’t use a litter box which another cat may have used. Also, some cats like to defecate in one box and urinate in another. Plus, if your home has several floors, then you need to make sure there is a litter box or boxes on each floor. It will avoid accidents on your cat’s part and frustration on yours.
Additionally, if you have multiple cats, be sure that you place the litter box in an area where there’s an entrance and an unhindered way out. This way one of your cats can’t corner another one when your kitty is leaving the litter box. Also, if you have dogs, place a gate across the doorway a few inches above the floor. This way your dog won’t be getting what he thinks is extra protein from the litter box. If your dog eats from the litter box, your pet could get infected with intestinal worms if Harker has them. Or, your dog could develop a blockage from the undigested litter.
Size and shape of the litter box
When you shop for your litter box, you may be overwhelmed by the choices. There are litter boxes that fit into corners, ones with lids, and even ones which clean themselves. The litter box needs to be the right size for Lily and Harker also. Lily when she was a kitten, needed one which had lower sides, so she didn’t have an issue getting in and out of it. Harker would need one which is bigger because he’s an adult cat.
There are some cats that like a litter box with a hood also. It’s great if you have a cat who likes to sling litter around everywhere. Or, perhaps, is a little shy and wants more privacy. But these litter boxes will hold the odor in and should be cleaned every day. Too, the self-cleaning litter boxes are great, but some cats find the noise bothersome. But if you have several cats, you could buy different types and let them decide which ones they like.
There is also a preference of litter among most cats. Litter which is more like garden soil or sand is a favorite. Cats seem to like a litter which is fine textured as opposed to a litter which is more course. In addition, a non-scented litter may be what one cat prefers, a scented litter for another. Another thing is that the litter should be about two inches deep. It’s better to use a little less litter and change it more often than overstuffing a box. If you aren’t sure which litter your cat will like, then put a different kind in each box and see which one your cat or cats choose.
Preventing house soiling by your kitten or cat
Once your cat or kitten is trained, then they can have free reign of your home. If you’re not sure they’re reliably house trained, don’t let them run loose. Again, don’t punish a cat that has a bathroom episode even if it is intentional from not learning properly. All that punishing does after your cat does the deed is that it makes your cat afraid of you. If you scold your furry companion, then she’ll associate the litter box with punishment. However, if you praise her when she does go in the box, then success is more likely.
If your kitten isn’t litter trained yet, then put her in a room where she can be confined until she learns. Make sure the floors are non-porous; Lily has water, a warm place to nap in and a litter box at the other side of the room. To control the house soiling, put Lily on a regular feeding schedule so that the elimination program works. Once housetrained, she can eat from an open food source if that is what you like doing for feeding her.
Be sure that you praise her when she uses the litter box, give her a treat and some attention. She’ll learn that her litter box is the best place to use.
Further readings you may be interested in:
- Litter Training Kittens Problems
- How To Litter Train Your Cat in 6 Easy Steps
- The Best cat litter box: Keep it clean and tidy
- The perfect Kit To Litter Train your cat
2. How to potty train a cat or kitten
Believe it or not, you can teach Lily to use the toilet instead of a litter box. Potty training cats can be done with patience and some work.
What you need to do is place your furry feline’s litter box next to the toilet first off. The next step is to bring it nearer and nearer to the top of the seat. What’s next in the cat toilet training session is to get Lily used to the litter box with it sitting on the toilet lid seat. At this point, you need to buy a special litter box which fits inside the toilet opening and flushable litter. There will be a spillover of litter at this point.
Potty training kittens and cats will take some time, so bear with the mess for a little while. As you use less and less litter, Lily should get used to not having it to use. When she’s going consistently, then take away the litter box entirely.
Further readings you may be interested in:
3. Tricks to teach your cat
Training kittens and training cats to respond to a clicker isn’t overly difficult. It works on the positive reinforcement theory. It involves having treats on hand and a clicker. A pen with a clicker sound will work if you don’t have a clicker. So, you give a command like “come” and drop a treat in sight as you give a click with the clicker. A cat is smart; Lily will soon work out that if she does an individual command, then she gets a treat.
Keep using a clicking sound with your commands, even if it means just using your tongue and the roof of your mouth to make the sound because if you don’t, you can confuse Lily. Eventually, your cat will come even without a treat. Be sure to praise her still though.
Another way to teach Lily to come on command is to make a noise before you put food in her dish. It could be a tongue click, a kissy noise, or calling her name; whatever works for you. Lily will learn when she hears that sound or when you call her name something good is going to happen. Next, make this noise when it isn’t feeding time. Call her from a short distance or make the sound you’re using. When your furry friend comes to you, give her a treat. Make the distances longer and longer over a period of time, always rewarding with a treat when training. Training should be done twice a day for about 20 times a session.
Training your cat to shake hands is another trick which isn’t too difficult to teach. First, hold your clicker in your hand, then put yourself at your furry friend’s level. Tap Lily’s paw and say “shake” and then click when she moves her paw. Keep repeating until Lily gives you her paw when you say “shake” without touching her paw. When she does this exercise correctly, you reward her with a treat. It can take a few days and a few training sessions.
Plus, you can teach Lily to walk on a leash outside. Buy a harness that you can attach the leash to the back of and not at the neck. Lay it around her sleeping area and the area where Lily eats, so that she gets used to seeing it. Next, you want to casually drape the harness over her without fastening it and give her a treat. After a few days of this, secure the harness around Lily without the leash and leave it on for a bit. Increase the length of time your kitty wears the harness over the next couple of days.
Once she is used to the harness, then attach the leash and let her walk around. Once she’s used to this, then start holding the leash and walking around with her. Then ease her outdoors on the leash and let her explore somewhere quiet.
You can also train you cat to sit. An important consideration when teaching your cat to sit is the fact that each cat is unique. This means that the reaction to training will be different in each cat.
For you to have Lily be a well-behaved cat, you must spend time with her. Cats will learn manners, rules, and tricks when approached with love and kindness. Cats also enjoy rewards in the form of treats and loving attention. Pay attention to your kitten or cat to see what makes them tick. Cats live a long time, and you want your feline companion to be happy in her choice of owner.
Further readings you may be interested in: