What can you teach a cat to do?

You can teach a cat using the clicker method and positive rewards

You can teach a cat using the clicker method and positive rewards

Is it possible to train or teach a cat?  Pet owners have debated this question for years. 

Today, there is extensive evidence supporting the fact that indeed, cats can be trained to perform a wide variety of tasks and tricks. In recent years, particular cat training techniques have become increasingly popular as the demand for house-broken, domesticated, indoor cats has increased.  

The first step in the process of training a cat is to learn about the animal’s natural behaviors and instincts. Cats are highly intelligent creatures that respond very well to training methods that involve sound and smell.  

Most pet owners and home owners will agree that the most important thing to teach a cat is how to use a litter box. Wild cats, such as tigers, panthers or mountain lions all possess the survival instinct of raking dirt or sand over their urine in order to cover their scent. They will also seek out a clean, private, safe area to use as their bathroom. This is why it is important to provide domestic cats with a private, clean litter box, preferably filled with kitty litter that a cat can rake.  

Cats certainly don’t need much training in regard to litter boxes. Repeatedly placing a kitten in its litter box will help the animal identify its location, and instinct will take over. Merely keep the box clean and odor free to ensure your cat’s continued use of the litter box.


Some cat owners have attained great success in teaching a cat to use a toilet. This can certainly cut down on the cost and mess of kitty litter, as well as eliminate the odor of dirty litter boxes.  Cats have remarkable balance and can pose on the rim of a toilet quite gracefully. However, special seats and toilet seat attachments can also be purchased. Positive reinforcement, in the form of kitty treat rewards, combined with clicker training is the most effective way to train cats to use a toilet. 

The other challenge that faces many cat owners is how to discourage cats from climbing on counters, table tops or clawing at furniture and upholstery. Since cats are, by their very nature, agile tree climbers who enjoy sharpening their claws on the trunks of trees, it may take time and patience to re-direct a cat’s natural instincts.  

Teach a cat not to climb on counters by banging a pot or making a loud and sudden noise as soon as the cat leaps onto a forbidden counter top. Cats have excellent hearing and are particularly sensitive to loud or sudden noises. Eventually, the cat will associate this negative reinforcement with jumping onto counter tops, and the animal will avoid this action. Repeat the same noise when the cat scratches at furniture or upholstery.  

However, in order to preserve your household furniture, and limit your cat’s destructive behavior, it may be helpful to provide your cat with an alternative ? such as a cat tree to climb or a scratching post. These products may be especially helpful for indoor cats, as they will offer your cat an outlet for instinctual behaviors.

Positive rewards such as Kitty treats combined with clicker training and other positive reinforcement such as petting, can all be used to teach a cat a variety of tricks such as sitting down, shaking hands, rolling over, walking upright on two feet, or fetching a particular item such as a soft cat toy.

Ultimately, the challenge of teaching a cat may depend on the patience of the trainer, as well as the particular demeanor, age and personality of the animal. Cats certainly make loving pets and companions, and proper training can actually help many cats to adapt and feel more comfortable in a household environment. 

Fortunately there are many resources offering tips, pet training guides and books as well as pet products related to training. If training a cat is a project that appeals to you or your family, look online or ask your local pet store for guidance and advice.