Service Cats: Proper Training Methods

Well here we are, another Miserable Monday. Da end of da weekend and da start of peeps goin’ back to work. We had sun fur da furst time in days yesfurday, but woke up to gray skies and dense fog today. Da weather just doesn’t know what it wants to do. Anyways, today is also Service Cat educational posty day. We didn’t get any questions after last weeks posty, so we’re not sure ifin ya’ll are losin’ innerest in these posts or not. So, ifin ya’ could let us know in da comments, we’d ‘purreciate it. As with all our educational postys, da following will be written in human English. Ifin you’ve missed any post, you can ketch up by clickin’ da linkys below.

 Dezi cocks head to the side in thought

Service Cats: What to Look For

Service Cats: Training Foundations 

Service Cats: How to Train Kitty to Massage Without Claws

Service Cats: Smelling Disease 

Service Cats: Do You Need One 

Service Cats: Who Bears the Cost

Service Cats: Housing Laws and Exceptions 

Service Cats: Accommodations and Common Sense 

Service Cats: What Happens When the Handler Dies 

We were asked a few posts back to talk about proper training methods. Training is something we think all animals, not just Service Animals can benefit from. We’ve all seen the totally out of control doggy and the doing as it pleases kitty. Unfortunately behavioral problems account for a large percentage of animals taken to shelters; and some of those behaviors could be changed with just a little training and patience. In our Training Foundations post we covered the beginning process mommy chooses to use.

 Raena laying on perch

 You’s have mines full attention mommy.

There are several acceptable methods of training. If your cat doesn’t respond to one, try another. Hitting, yelling and chasing your kitty Does Not work. Neither does drenching them with water from a water bottle or water gun. Clicker training is probably the best known method these days. It involves a small clicker that the trainer holds and clicks as the animal does what is asked for, followed by a treat. This method is very successful in dog training. Dogs are generally ruled by their tummy and will perform for a treat.

Clicker training can be successful with some cats. Mommy has never used this method per se’, but she does sometimes use a form of it. Long ago when mommy decided to start training Service Kitties she looked in to a clicker. We don’t know the cost these days, but back then it was pretty pricey, and mommy couldn’t afford it. She was already training kitties successfully so she couldn’t justify the cost. However, you can use a finger snap to mimic a clicker. Mommy usually snaps her fingers to get us to pay attention. She doesn’t however follow it up with a treat.  

 Raena playing with Petafe cheese and mouse toy

 What’s dat mommy? Did you need somethin’?

Treat rewards are the biggest problem mommy has with clicker training. Cats aren’t generally ruled by their tummies and a lot of cats don’t like treats. And too many treats means kitty won’t eat their meal, or they will, and then gain weight and become obese. Positive reinforcement is crucial to train any animal to perform a specific task. Mommy uses praise and love as our reward. It’s not fattening, and it means we will repeat the task even when we don’t get a treat, which would be impossible for her first thing in the morning. Something you may not know, is that most of the handlers of those Service dogs have to carry treats with them to reward the dog off and on throughout the day.

But what about training kitty NOT to do something, such as climb your curtains, stay off the kitchen counters or scratch your brand new leather sofa? Remember, hitting, screaming, chasing or drenching them with water Does Not work. Mommy says the water bottle has it’s place, but if you’re soaking kitty and he/she is still doing the inappropriate behavior, then it obviously isn’t working. And truly, you don’t want kitty to develop a fear of water. Let’s say you’ve ruled out any health issues for kittys’ behavior. Your next step is to offer an appropriate alternative.

Raena sits pose while playing Who me? I’s would never climb da curtains or

jump on da counters.

Let’s talk about inappropriate scratching. All scratchers are not created equal, and not every cat likes the same surface. There are vertical, horizontal and hanging scratchers. Watch kitty to see if he/she has a preference. There are many different textures as well, corrugated cardboard, carpet, sisal and wood. Again, your cat probably has a preference for one of these textures. It may take some time to figure out which, but once you do, you can successfully offer kitty an appropriate scratching surface. The best option would be to have several scratchers of different textures available, as well as vertical and horizontal. Always make sure the scratcher is the right size for your kitty and that it is stable. You can also make a scratcher for your kitty by covering a surface with their favorite material, especially if it’s leather. Place said scratcher next to the area kitty’s scratching and the next time kitty scratches, move him/her over to the new scratching surface and place their paws on it. Initially it might be helpful to take kittys’ paws and mimic scratching on the new surface, as this encourages kitty. And a little catnip on the new scratcher never hurt any kitty either. You must be repetitive in order to stop the offensive behavior completely.

 Dezi lays on cardboard scratcher

Dezi uses sisal scratcher

Raena lays on scratcher

Mommy says that you must speak with a firm tone when training, but Never react in anger. And if there are several people in a household, all parties must be on the training bandwagon. Especially for correcting inappropriate behavior. Now let’s talk a minute about that water bottle so many cat peeps have on hand. And yes, mommy has one too. Here’s mommys’ list of reasons to use the water bottle:

  • To break up a Cat Fight

  • To stop a fight you see coming on by distracting kitties

 Dezi sits on bench

Mommy says NEVER aim the water stream directly at kitty, especially not the head area. Depending on the proximity you are from kitty and where you hit them, kitty could actually be injured. (Mommy has seen some really powerful water bottles and water guns in the market) Instead, spray a few inches above kitty or in between kitties. Mommy says that clapping, snapping fingers, or a shaker can will also work. Again, don’t do this right in kittys’ ears. A clap from across the room is more than sufficient to get kittys’ attention. Whichever action you take, you should include a firm NO at the same time. Mommy always includes our name. She says that doing so makes sure there’s no mistaking who she’s correcting and what behavior is objectionable. There’s a lot of “No Raena’s” going on around here right now.

 Dezi bathing on top of the Liberty cat tree

 Me’s gonna get a quick bath in befur a nap.

Well, me’s just realized this is a really long posty, so me’s gonna wrap it up now and try to get a nap befur Raena starts in again. She’d put dat battery bunny to shame she has so much energy. Anyways, hope you all have a pawsum day.

Till da next time…………………………………..Be Blest!!!

Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses

Deztinee and RaenaBelle    

About Deziz World

My name is Deztinee. I am a Ragdoll. I was born 11/1/2009. I am a service cat along with my sisfur RaenaBelle, also a Ragdoll, for our disabled human mommy. My sisfur Raena was born 4/21/2016. In March of 2016, mommy and I had to say goodbye to my mentor Alexandra (Lexi), a black tabby born 4/29/1999. This blog is about our daily life from the kitty's point of view. We were both rescued from bad situations and our mommy raised us and trained us to be service cats. I want this blog to be interactive and get to know all of you, so comment and visit often. I will also offer advice, training tips and education when possible. Copyright © 2014 - 2017 {Audra High via Deztinee High and RaenaBelle High} All Rights Reserved All personal content (story's, poetry, etc., videos and music) are the property of the human behind Deziz World, and may not be used, copied or otherwise re-published without prior written permission/consent from the author (A. High-the human behind Deziz World). We have an amazon.com wish list and a PayPal account if you would like to help/donate to us.

Posted on August 22, 2016, in Educational, Human Speak, Service Cats, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. Katie Isabella

    The rules are great to see and I hope I never ever ever see anyone ever hitting a cat. They are so small, so frail. I would have to get involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah the scratchers. We have several around the house. The one most used? The cardboard one – the one that makes a mess for Jan to clean up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So informative, as always! Mommy’s rules for training make so much sense, and we are grateful to you all for sharing them with us. Hugs to you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Swiss Cats

    Great post, and great information ! Claire never used water bottle with us. She sometimes uses finger snap to let us know we have to jump down the counter / get out of the cupboard / … quickly. Purrs

    Liked by 1 person

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