Dogs come when they’re called. So of course Kitty can be taught the same thing. Cats are bright enough to learn most basic instructions. It just takes practice, perseverance, and an ounce of know-how. Because a cat who comes when called is a foreign concept to many owners (most everyone has been indoctrinated into thinking cats can’t be taught to come on command), I’ve put together ten easy steps for teaching our favorite furballs this very important response.
WARREN ECKSTEIN’S 10 EASY STEPS TO TEACHING KITTY TO COME WHEN CALLED
- Use Kitty’s name to help grab her attention. “Kitty come.”
- Use Kitty’s name only for positive things.
- Never call Kitty for something unpleasant or negative. If you’re going to give her medicine, you should go to her.
- During the initial training, it will help if you practice from floor level so Kitty can make better eye contact with you.
- EACH AND EVERY TIME Kitty comes to you, praise her to the hilt. Don’t be lazy about the positive reinforcement.
- Only use the come command when you’re in a position to follow it through if Kitty doesn’t come. There’s nothing worse than letting Kitty know she can pick and choose when she wants to listen to you.
- Talk to the other members of the family. Be sure they’re not running around all day long calling her then ignoring her is she doesn’t respond (or worse, if she does). Nothing will ruin your chances of success more than inconsistency within the family.
- Don’t have Kitty participate in ten minutes of practice lessons in which all you do is repeat the same thing. It’s boring and bound to turn her off.
- Instead, call her once or twice half a dozen times during the day. Practice a little bit here and there.
- If Kitty doesn’t come right away and you’ve spent way too much time cajoling her into the response, be sure to praise her when she finally decides to mosey on over. You may find this awfully hard to do after you’ve been coaxing the furry darling for fifteen minutes, but it’s the end response she’ll remember. Don’t blow it by not pouring on the praise. Bang on your pillow afterward if you must, but don’t take it out on Kitty.
STEP 5 CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD
All ten steps are important. Ignore any one of them and you’ll reduce your chance of success by 10 percent. Ignore several of them and the risk factor for noncompliance shoots up proportionately. However, if I had to narrow in on any step that can really make a big difference, it’s step 5. Each and every time she comes to you, don’t get lazy. Praise her to the hilt.
If Kitty believes that each time she comes to you fabulous things will happen, just watch how quickly she bounds right over you. That’s the deal you have to make with yourself and with her. You must stop whatever you’re doing and fuss over her like nothing she’s seen before. Praise her like crazy and, if she’s friendly enough, kiss and hug her and give her a little kitty massage. Try some scratching behind the ears. Every now and then give Kitty a little piece of her all time favorite food. (Not too often, though. We don’t want Kitty to become dependent on a food reward for her response. That’s how you turn into one of those nutty people who have to run around the neighborhood shaking a box of cat food in order to get Kitty back in the house.) Let her think she just won the 50 million dollar lottery. Get the idea? Go overboard. Fuss, fuss, fuss all over her. When you’re finished and you think you’ve done enough, just think of my nagging voice saying, “That’s not enough. Do more, more, more.”
Go to the extremes, and of course Kitty will want to come to you. Why shouldn’t she? You’re the most interesting and best deal in town. One quick word of caution – no matter how quickly Kitty responds to come when called, never allow her off leash when she’s outdoors. It only takes one time for her not hearing you to be run down by a car or truck.
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