Tips To Practice Positive Reinforcement With Your Cat

Have you ever heard that it’s impossible to train a cat? It’s most definitely not impossible. Though attempting to train a cat will most likely be pretty challenging! Cats are notoriously independent, which is partly why we love them. But it is entirely possible to help guide your kitty away from unwanted behaviors using positive reinforcement. These tips will help you practice positive reinforcement with your cat.

Here are our Top Tips to Practice Positive Reinforcement With Your Cat…

positive reinforcement with your cat

What is Positive Reinforcement?

First of all, let’s pause for a moment and define positive reinforcement. The American Association of Feline Practitioners says that positive reinforcement means providing a ‘reward’ to your cat. The key here is to give kitty a reward when she does something you actually want her to do. The following tips will help you learn to practice positive reinforcement with your cat.

Tips on Rewards with Positive Reinforcement With Your Cat

When it comes to rewarding your cat for doing something you asked, you have many options. Treats are a very popular way to practice positive reinforcement with cats. Different cats will react in different ways to various rewards. In light of this, try experimenting with your kitty to see what excites her the most. Does she adore her salmon-flavored treats? Or is she more interested in playing with a brand new catnip mouse instead? Some cats might even be motivated to do their human’s bidding with play time or even a snuggling session.

positive reinforcement tips for cats

Practice Consistency with Rewarding Your Cat

It’s also really important that once you’ve chosen a reward, you stick with it. Don’t start rewarding kitty with treats only to run out before your training is done. In positive reinforcement, it’s most helpful for cats to receive the same reward. It could be confusing for your cat if you switch between treats and toys. Plus, it’s simpler for you to remember one reward, so it’s a win-win. 

Cats Need Positive Reinforcement Right Away

Now you’ve pinpointed the reward that’s most motivating to your kitty and you’re sticking with it. The next key with positive reinforcement is to give her the reward as soon as you can after she does what you ask. For example, let’s say you’re teaching kitty to use her new litter box. Using positive reinforcement, you would plan to give her a treat (or reward of her choice) each time she uses the litter box. Now, you need to give her that treat as soon as she steps out of that box. Ensuring there’s hardly any time between the behavior and the reward is going to help further her training. You can apply this tip to whatever behavior you would like from your kitty. It’s all part of the positive reinforcement process.

Positive Reinforcement Does Not Mean Punishment

One thing we want to be very clear on here: don’t punish your cat. It’s probably going to take her a little while to learn something new. When she messes up, that might be frustrating for you as her human. However, don’t yell at her and definitely don’t hit her. Just take a deep breath and be patient with her as she learns new things. Punishment doesn’t go well and it can really be harmful to your feline friend. Instead, keep going with that reward for kitty when she does what you have been training her to do.

Did you learn anything new and interesting about our feline friends? Share this article with another cat lover that you know so they can learn something, too.

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