Skip to main content

5 effective methods for disciplining and training cats

A common belief among people is that cats cannot be trained as easily as dogs using the same methods. While there is some truth to the claim, you can, in fact, modify your cat’s behavior effectively with some disciplining and training methods.

cat treat for training
Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

A good reason for cats to be generally non-responsive to training is the history behind why cats were domesticated in the first place. Cats had been bred with the sole intention of hunting vermin on their own. They are inclined to work independently as part of their inherent nature. Despite all this, you can train a cat with some special tips and tricks. You will, however, need a great deal of patience and creativity.

Explore our article with five effective methods for disciplining and training cats — and make your job a lot easier. In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Use a clicker as a trigger.
  • Start early with small tasks, and keep the training sessions short.
  • Develop a reward system using treats.
  • Avoid punishing your cat at all costs.
  • Involve some other people in the process.

Use a clicker as a trigger

When you make your cat do something that you are training them for, make a sound with a clicker or a pen. This lets your cat know that they have done something right. Just remember to make the sound at the exact same time that your cat does the job. Otherwise, they will just get confused.

A good idea is to pair this process with a reward system like a cat treat. This will induce a positive feedback behavior in your cat’s mind. They will try to do that action every time you click the trigger in hopes of getting something good out of it.

Start early with small tasks, and keep the training sessions short

The best and most suitable time to train your cat is when he or she is still a kitten. If you can start the process within a few days of bringing home a kitten, you can expect to groom and take care of them much more easily when they grow up to be adults.

Kitten in litter box
graphixel/Getty Images

The more you carry on with training sessions, the more you will find that your cat is often bored and losing interest. In that case, they will stop accepting the training, and all your efforts will end up in vain. It is best to keep the duration of each activity adequately short but to do it frequently and naturally. Cats are very independent and strong-willed by nature. So, it will not be that easy. You just have to keep calm and maintain your patience.

Start with a small essential task, like teaching your cat to use the litterbox when they need to. You can then move on to other complex tricks, like making them respond to your calls or sit on your lap. With enough trial and error, you will get there soon enough.

Develop a reward system using treats

One of the greatest motivational stimulators for training is a reward system. Your furry little friend will be very eager to respond to your cues if you give them a treat every time they do a good job.

You can also try other rewards, like patting or scratching their fur. Cats respond well to these gestures and generally like them. So, reinforce good behavior and discipline, like sitting still while you prepare food for them. Getting that reward will teach them that they did a good job, and they will try to quickly adapt to the behavior. In the meantime, you can also learn how many times you should feed your kitten.

Avoid punishing your cat at all costs

As part of their nature, cats respond negatively to punishment. When you punish your cat with something like spraying water after they have done something wrong, it will just imprint a bad notion in their mind. They will feel more likely to flee and create distance from you. They will not feel afraid of the action itself.

So, every time your cat does something that you do not want them to do, refrain from punishing them. The key here is persuasion. If you patiently wait and follow the methods above, your cat is very likely to respond and adapt to good actions rather than bad ones.

Involve some other people in the process

Cat lying on top of man on couch
Magui RF/

If you don’t actually live alone with your cat, you can invite your friends or other family members to interact with them. This will effectively speed up your cat’s adaptation process. They will learn to socialize more with new people.

Just like starting small and easy, ask other people not to be too forward with their interactions. Cats are less adaptive to change by nature. So, giving them a lot of leeway and allowing them to slowly get used to new faces is more effective than introducing them suddenly to a lot of new people.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, training your cat to be disciplined can lead to multiple benefits. The whole exercise means that you will likely spend more time with your furry friend while nurturing the bond that you share. It will keep your cat stimulated, which means that they will be happy and healthy.

Training a cat can include teaching them some fun tricks like fetching or waving. However, the most useful benefit is being able to discipline and manage your cat’s actions. Your favorite pet can learn to respond to your calls, sit when asked, and even pee at specific times. This can be very helpful for you as the owner.

If it’s still not working and you are facing troubles while training or disciplining your cat using these methods, it is definitely a good idea to reach out for professional help. An expert and qualified animal behaviorist can be the right choice for helping your favorite feline friend.

Editors' Recommendations

Why do cats throw up? (Plus, the one thing you should always do)
Don't ignore your cat when they do this
an orange and white cat lounging on wood plank

When you signed on to cat parenthood, you likely knew you'd have to deal with waste management, like cleaning litter boxes (or scooping poop if your kitty is an outdoor one). Feeding and providing a cat with plenty of water are also expected basics of having a cat. However, cats are full of surprises, from wake-up calls for pets (aren't felines anti-social?) to a Bah-humbug relationship with holiday trees.

An unwelcome surprise of kitty parenting? Cleaning up vomit. To be frank, it's gross. However, seeing that your cat threw up is likely also concerning to you. When people throw up, they're often sick — can the same be said for cats? If you're wondering, "Why is my cat throwing up?" your first call should be to a vet. Here's why.

Read more
Cats sleep with their eyes open — it’s creepy, but here’s why they do it
Cats do all sorts of weird things, including sleeping with their eyes open. Here is why.
A one-eyed cat sleeps with the other open

Cats do weird things sometimes, and we love them for it! What would we watch on TikTok otherwise? But their strange behavior can also cause us cat owners some concern. If you’ve ever seen your cat sleeping with her eyes open, you know exactly what we mean. Not only does this look frightening, but it also might spur some crucial questions in your mind. Why do cats sleep with their eyes open? Is it a medical problem? Should I be worried? Keep reading to find out.

Can cats sleep with their eyes open?
They can. If you’re reading this article, you have probably already observed your cat sleeping through the day with her eyes open. Not all cats do it, and cats that can don’t usually do it all the time. The first time you notice your cat sleeping with her eyes open, it can be quite jarring. It looks a little spooky, and you may start to worry that something is wrong with her.

Read more
Why do cats meow excessively? 6 possible causes – and solutions that can help you both
Find out why your cat is meowing so much (and what to do about it)
Striped orange cat meowing

Cats meow (and don't meow!) for a number of reasons. It all starts when they’re kittens — they meow to their mothers when they’re cold, hungry, or scared. As they get older, little felines learn different ways to vocalize and interact with other cats, usually by yowling or hissing. But meowing is an adult cat’s way to communicate with people. It's nice to have a little chat with your tiny tiger, though constant meowing can be really unpleasant. If you regularly ask yourself, "Why do cats meow so much?" you're in the right place.

Why do cats meow to their humans?
Good news first: Many of the meows you hear indicate a positive feeling. This means, your cat gets happy and just has to express herself in her native tongue. However, sometimes, vocalizations can reveal the total opposite and require you to take care of her. Occasionally, excessive talking from a feline says that she's not OK and needs some human intervention. As with learning a new language, you should pay careful attention to the timing, intonation, and context of the articulation. Basically, trust your pet. If she's really in pain, you'll know from the noises she makes and should take her to the vet as soon as possible.

Read more