How to communicate with your kitty through treats: a great way to reinforce positive behaviour or teach new things

Hangai Lilla

2023. March 21 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

There are serious advantages to training and teaching cats. With it, you stimulate their body and their mind at the same time, which helps then maintain their health. And the time spent together guarantees that your relationship will grow stronger.


You can also teach your pet fun tricks, such as waving, patting or bringing objects back, but they can also learn useful commands such as sit, stay and come.

Reward the desired behaviour

In the simplest terms, if you want your cat to repeat a behavior, you need to reward it when it performs it. It is important to make sure that you reward immediately after the desired behavior.

A very simple example is that if your cat meows at you and then you give him a treat, this will become a pattern for him and he will meow later because he expects a treat. If you do not reward his meowing, in other words, ignore it, it is unlikely that he will repeat this action regularly.

The treat is also a great tool for teaching a new behaviour pattern

If you want your kitty to appear immediately when you call, try this: call him by his name and reward him with a treat when he comes to you. Go to another room, call him by his name again, and reward him again when he appears.

It is not certain that it will work right away and a lot depends on the mood of the cat, but you will surely reach your goal with persistent effort.

Give him the right motivation

Motivation is the key to training. And for most cats, motivation is food. When you start working on a task together, the most important thing is to choose a snack that you know your kitty really likes. It can be stuffed crispy snacks, or even natural chicken breast. Feel free to experiment!

You can use this snack to reinforce any positive behavior. When he finally uses the scraper, if he lets you comb him, during bath, or claw trimmingCats are smart, they very quickly associate these events with treats.

Reward promptly and consistently

Timing is the most important thing in training cats. Their attention span is so short-term, just like that of Generation Z raised on TikTok, so the reward must arrive within seconds, otherwise it will be useless.

For example, if you see that he is finally sharpening his nails on the scraper today, instead of on the legs of the antique sofa, give him a few bites of treats right away. If you slipped it because you had to run to the kitchen to get it, put it aside for later.

It can be a big help if all the family members reinforce the desired behaviour, so it will be established sooner.

Practise at the right time

It is only worth dealing with a task for a short time. In the case of a cat, the 5 minutes it can spend concentrating is already considered very good. Don’t be upset if you only manage to hook him up for 1-2 minutes, and even if you see that he’s just not in the mood for it. Don’t force anything, otherwise he will lose his motivation for good!

How to replace the reward bite

Since too many snacks will sooner or later result in a fat kitty, the goal is to gradually wean him off the treats, and the shaggy little animal will be satisfied with the praise as well.

Once your cat is reliably and consistently showing the desired behavior, you can start reducing the treats. Do this gradually, but don’t overdo it! Praise and caressing should never be missed, and they may get a treat once in a while, but it should not be regular.

Don’t do this!

The cat should not be punished for a mistake or an improperly executed command, because it will not understand what is wrong. You wouldn’t achieve anything else with the punishment, you would only create a stressful situation, which could later have serious health consequences. He will not associate the punishment with something he has already done and forgotten.

Do not pick it up or put it near the scraper to scratch. He simply won’t understand what you want to achieve with such aggressive behavior and you will only scare him. Don’t force anything, be patient and persistent!

Don’t turn your cat into a beggar! Use the treats only for training, that way it will be really effective.

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