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The Internet, which exists primarily to share the wild, cute, and lovable anecdotes of the modern day feline, is full of cat-related this, cat-related that tips and tricks.
You can spend hours reading how to get your cat to sit up, come when called, play fetch, and do all the other dog-related tricks. You can also spend a good deal of time learning how to train your cat practical things like how to use a litter box or how to be comfortable on a leash and harness. But when it comes down to training your cat anything, you have to appeal to their instincts. This means you have to align training and outcomes to a natural behavior.
The best way to appeal to your cat’s wild side is through food. Food-based training is practically the only way to teach a cat to do anything. You also want to avoid throwing your cat into an experience that will create a bad memory for them. Cats can’t recall memories like humans, but when they encounter something similar, they will recall the memory and the conditioned response. It’s important to note that a conditioned response in a cat is created in just one experience.
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Take a pet door as an example.
You just don’t want to look at or smell the kitty litter box anymore, and you’ve decided to move the box into the garage or a mud room that is closed off from the house. You’ve introduced your cat to the new location of the box and propped the door open for her for a few days or even weeks and decided it’s time to install a pet door.
Now, a tiny flapped door is all that separates your cat from the box yet the cat runs away or seems scared every time you put her in front of the pet door. Rather than forcing her to go through it, wait until she’s hungry and get some good treats. Bring the treats to the pet door and put them through to the other side. Your cat will be much more likely to go through the pet door if there’s food on the other side.