I have always been a dog person. Not to say that I was a cat hater, but if given the choice of feline or canine, I would always go with the dogs. I am an animal lover, thus I do enjoy cats as well, but they never seemed as approachable or personable as dogs did. I’m still a huge dog person, but now I’m a cat person too (somehow that makes me sigh). Since I’ve gotten our kittens, I’ve learned to love them. Instantly. And now I see that they aren’t so different from dogs after all. Especially Nymeria.
If you’ve read about her, you’ll know that she acts like a dog, rough housing, and cuddling, and afraid of nothing. Sajah, our newer kitten, behaves like a dog when it comes to food…and he’s become quite the cuddler as well. I’m drawing the connection between these two species for a reason. Dogs are trained right from when they are of puppy age (if possible) to sit, lie down, come, and so forth. Rarely will you find people training their cats this way. Sure, they might urge them towards a litter box when they’re young (although they are born with the tendency to go to the bathroom in a confined place), but when do you ever hear of someone training their cats as you would dogs?
Rarely. And I ask, why? Why should dogs be trained to do certain tasks or tricks but not felines? It doesn’t make sense to me. It just seems to be a cultural thing to just train dogs and not cats. With Nymeria, we’ve been training her to do pull-ups on her cat tree since she was young. Even though she’s smaller than Sajah (and was smaller than Misty too), she can use her upper body wiry strength to get out of a bind. That was just a little thing.
Up until the kittens, I’ve only known how to raise a dog. So I am raising the kittens like puppies. I’ve begun a training regimen with both of them, and I try to keep to it every day. And guess what–they’ve learned commands incredibly fast. At the same speed or quicker than dogs that I’ve trained. So there’s to people who think that cats aren’t made for training.
How do you train them? Some might ask. All I do is cut treats into small pieces (we use “Greenies” for good kitty dental health) and have them follow different commands. It can be tough and hectic training them both at the same time, but if one starts interfering just plop them somewhere else. Say the commands and show them what to do until they understand.
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Both Sajah and Nymeria know “come” although they don’t always choose to follow that one without treats. Nymeria is an expert at “sit.” She does it on command without treats now and understands the word. How did I get her to understand? I would say, “Nymeria, sit” and then position her body in a seated position. Eventually, she connected it and put it together.
Sajah, on the other hand, is an expert at “up.” He knows even by the hand gesture of patting the couch that he will jump up right beside me. He picked that one up quickly and does it frequently whenever I ask. Of course, he’s hoping for treats, but it’s great that he will do it without them.
Sajah en route to command “up!”
It takes time and patience, as all thing such as these require, but I think it’s worth it. Some may call it odd or strange, but I believe it’s due to culture that people don’t train their cats. It’s simply not the thing to do. So break the pattern, get with your kittens, and give them a few minutes of training every day so they can become intelligent, task-managing fiends!