In this post, I will discuss the number one thing your cat is going to care about and get excited about when it comes to training. No, it’s not the latest toy you got them or a box and has nothing to do with how much patience you have with them. It’s cat training treats.
That’s right, food, food, and more food. Not just any food, the yummiest there is to your cat. While training can and should start with mealtime to create the perfect routine, I know some things you will want to train them can’t be based around mealtime alone.
Why cat training treats are so important
Cats are animals, and like any animal, the majority of them respond to food. A cat cares about three things above all else in the wild: territory, mating, and eating. All three items are crucial to survival, and just as you drool and feel hunger when smelling food you like, cats do the same.
Another way your cat is like you is that they are not likely to do as they’re told unless they feel there is something in it for them. Would you go to work every day if you didn’t need the paycheck? For most of you reading this, the answer is more than likely no. Treats are your kitties’ pay for doing what you’re asking.
One minor caveat is that not all cats are food orientated. This may be because they are free-fed, or they are finding food elsewhere. There are ways to fix this:
- Put your cats on a feeding schedule, limiting how much and when they eat
- Make it a rule in your house that treats will only be provided in specific scenarios
- Limit how many treats are given to your cats at any point.
- If your cats are allowed outdoors, ask your neighbors not to provide them with extra food.
- Limit your cat’s outdoor roaming to locations and times when there will not be many hunting opportunities
Variety is key
The last thing you want to do is buy one kind of treat and give that in every situation. Cats, like people, do get bored eating the same thing repeatedly, so mix it up a bit. Experiment with different kinds of treats. You don’t just have to use what you can get at the pet store. I once heard about a guy who taught his cat how to walk on a leash using applesauce!
Melody’s #1 recommended treat Greenies.Check out these Cat supplies on Amazon
Do keep in mind that some foods are toxic to cats, and they can develop food allergies. When giving your cat any food for the first time, do your research and observe your cat for any adverse reactions. Don’t forget always to read labels. Just because vets or some expert approves, it does not mean it’s the right thing for your cat.
As cats grow and mature, you may notice that they lose interest in foods they would go crazy for previously. As an example, my girls used to love avocado when they were kittens. Now, as adults, they barely sniff it before walking away.
Another reason you should have a variety of rewards for your cats is to associate certain items with specific behaviors.
Get a good idea of their top three favorites and use those as your main go-to items in the beginning. As you progress in training and some commands, become old hat assign other less favored treats to those tricks. Assign the favorite treats to new orders or desired behaviors.
Here are some examples of behaviors to assign special foods to:
- When a new guest comes into your home, and you want your cat to feel comfortable being around them
- When you have a very vocal cat who would like to be quieter
- Using the litter box (not all kittens learn how to do this from their mom’s)
- Preventing them from scratching on your furniture (it takes more than just a spray)
- Keeping cats out of certain rooms or off of particular furniture
- Learning and understanding the word “no!”
Bring on the noms!
Keep your cat training treats in a specific draw or cupboard, preferably one that your cats cannot gain access to, no matter how hard they try. If your cat has figured out how to open the kitchen cupboard as Mio did at the age of three months, this is not a good place for their treats. I keep my girl’s special noms in a heavy drawer in the living room by the TV. When your cat hears the drawer or cupboard open, they will come running with the desire to perform their tasks in exchange for something yummy.
My cats have become so tuned in with certain treats being given for specific actions that they often perform their action before I can provide a signal or verbally cue them.
Head over to Melody’s review of Greenies for an idea of a treat to try.
From food to affection
All training with your cat can be done using food. Eventually, you may find your cats get so used to following your commands that they do so with just a verbal cue and a scratch behind the ear.
Keep in mind cats do attach themselves to people, and just as they may have a favorite food, they will have a favorite person that they are more likely to accept non-food payment for their actions.
Treats are just the beginning
Once you know what types of treats your cats enjoy most and the amount to give them, what you teach your cat is only limited by your imagination!
There are many things you can teach your cat, such as basic actions like coming when called by name or sitting still even when there is an open door nearby. You can even teach your cats more complex things such as laying down and shaking a paw which can be taught in conjunction with a verbal cue or a hand signal.
Whatever you choose to teach them, it’s up to you to ensure they get proper payment for whatever tasks you are asking of them. Your cats will thank you as they munch!
What are your thoughts on cat treats? What kind of treats do you give your cats? Comment below!