Cats are pretty self sufficient, and don’t require much training. Once you have house-trained your cat, you’ve got the basics. However, there are additional lessons you can teach your cat about behavior.

Always remember…

While training your cat, you should use incentives instead of deterrents. Avoid negative methods like yelling, or rubbing your cat’s nose in a mess. This is ineffective, and can make your cat afraid of you, which won’t teach him anything.

One positive reward is a treat. It should be something that your cat finds delicious, not just your everyday food. You could use tuna, sardines, or a treat from the pet store.

Punishment is never a good idea with cats. They won’t understand that it means they aren’t supposed to do something that comes naturally to them. All they’ll learn is that sometimes you treat them badly, which won’t help you at all.

Come when called

One useful lessons is training your cat to come to you when you call. This is helpful when your cat escapes outside, or if you can’t find him or her. Most cats can learn this lesson pretty easily.

You should pick a call like “Here, kitty kitty”. This should be something you don’t use in everyday conversation, to avoid confusing your cat. It can sometimes help to use a higher pitched tone of voice. Be consistent in your call, so that your cat can learn to recognise it.

At first your cat won’t know to call. So put something nice in the food bowl when your cat is watching, and issue the call. Your cat will come to associate the call with tasty treats, and come running when he or she hears it.

Run through this drill at least once a week, and offer praise and petting when your cat comes to you.

Stop scratching the furniture

Cats need to scratch. It helps to keep the claws in good condition, can be a form of play, and helps to mark territory. Some cats will always scratch, so the lesson should be to direct the cat to scratch only acceptable objects. This lesson is easier to teach while your cat is young.

So your first step should be to get something acceptable for your cat to scratch, like a scratching post. You want something with a rough surface that your cat can tear into without knocking over. It has to be something your cat wants to scratch.

You should place the cat somewhere your cat already goes to scratch. This might be beside your couch or favorite armchair.

Tip: Cats don’t like citrus odors. You could use a lemon-scented spray to discourage your cat from scratching certain areas or objects.