Four Training Mistakes Cat Owners Make

Posted by Tori Holmes
cat with treat

There's an unfortunate myth out there that cats can't be trained. The good thing is that this couldn't be further from the truth.

The reason many cat owners have trouble training their cats is that they're making one of these common training mistakes.

Overestimating Training Time

Since people believe that training cats is a difficult task, they often also believe it will be a time-consuming task. In reality, cats learn best in short, frequent training sessions. Spending one to five minutes, multiple times a day working on a new skill is the best way to teach them.

Focusing on Bad Behavior Only

When your cat performs a good behavior, such as using their scratching post instead of the couch, you probably don't do much in the way of acknowledging it. But when they do something they're not supposed to do, you probably react right away either shooing or scolding them. It may seem backwards, but by doing this you are actually rewarding them for that behavior by giving them the attention they want. Instead, you should reward your cat for doing positive behavior and redirect or ignore the negative behavior.

READ MORE: Cats Can Do Anything When They Put Their Minds to It

Trying to Eliminate Instinctive Behaviors

Trying to eliminate behaviors that are instinctive to cats will only end in disaster. Things like clawing, pouncing, jumping, and climbing are natural behaviors and attempts to eliminate them can be highly stressful. Not only are they stressful, but you will very rarely be able to eliminate them. The best thing you can do is create an environment where these behaviors can be displayed without negative consequences. For instance, you can create vertical space for your cat to explore, make sure they have lots of toys to "hunt," and plenty of safe surfaces to scratch.

Setting Unrealistic Training Goals

Just like people, every cat learns at its own pace. This is important to keep in mind throughout the training, so you know when to reinforce them and when to give them a break. It will also help you make sure your training is staying at a level that is engaging, but not too difficult.


If you are already avoiding these common training mistakes but are still struggling with training, don't be afraid to ask for help. Your veterinarian will be able to connect with a feline behaviorist or another professional who can help you achieve your training goals.

Have you ever tried to train your cat? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

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Four Training Mistakes Cat Owners Make