Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Begin Cat Training by Changing Your Own Behavior

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Begin Cat Training by Changing Your Own Behavior

Article excerpt

I RECENTLY WATCHED a TV program that featured a magician and a tiger. The cat was perfectly trained and appeared to be very friendly. While almost everyone has seen big cats perform wonderful behaviors in animal acts, most people think that domestic tabbies are untrainable.

For those of you who own cats and wonder why they are not obedient, like dogs, consider this - an exotic cat is harder to train than your 10-pound pussycat. In most cases, the cat's ability to learn is not at issue. The real limitation is the human's ability to teach.

So to get started with a successful feline-training program, you have to begin by changing your own behavior. You can start by re-evaluating some of the basic premises of human-cat relationships. For instance, most cats have access to food at all times because it is convenient for the owner. If you provide your cat with a constant source of food, he will be less likely to work for treats. Your first behavioral change is to to start to feed him particular amounts at p articular times of the day. It is amazing how unfinicky a cat can become when dinner is a little late and the food bowl is empty. Be prepared for some serious caterwauling when your cat discovers that his free ride is over. Now that Felix has suddenly become attentive, it is time to initiate Stage 1 of your Feline Educational Program. Try touching a normally favorite treat to his nose. Move the treat a few inches away from his nose. If he moves his nose to follow the treat, say "good" and give it to h im. Now, congratulate yourself. You have just shaped the first part of your cat's first behavior. For Stage 2, take another treat and touch it to the cat's nose. As he tries to eat it, lift it up over his forehead - not too high, or he will stand up on his hind legs. Try to get him to relax his hind legs to get the treat. …

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