House training apart, training your cat to come to you is probably one of the first things that you will teach your cat and it’s also one of the most rewarding steps in establishing a relationship with your cat. Training should start at an early age, along with teaching your cat to recognise its name, which you should say as often as possible while you are stroking, feeding and playing with it so that it begins to associate the name with itself.
If you are to form a rewarding relationship with your cat, it is essential that your cat learns to respond to your call. Learning its name and knowing that you are the boss are both important steps.
Say his name as often as possible while you are stroking and playing with him and most of all when you are feeding him, so that he begins to recognise his name.
It’s more difficult with an adult cat and will take longer than with a kitten, but if you spend a lot of time with him and say his name as often as possible, he may eventually pick it up.
Q. I used to share my cat with my flatmate who has now moved out and I want to change his name, which I never liked. Is this OK?
If your cat is used to his name and responds to it, I wouldn’t advocate changing it. This might only confuse the cat. Getting a cat to recognise its name and to respond to your call are essential parts of pet ownership and are important lessons for any cat to learn, especially if it is allowed outdoors. The best time to start to train a cat is at an early age, when it is still a kitten. Before you can teach a cat to come to you, it needs to learn its name. This means that you must use the kitten’s name as often as possible when you are with it, especially when you stroke and feed it.
Unlike dogs, cats cannot be taught to obey. A cat will only learn if an obedient response is perceived by it as being worthwhile. The best way of doing this is to call it before doing something that the cat considers pleasant, and in a cat’s eyes the only thing that really qualifies as pleasant is food. Always call a kitten when it is due to be fed, even if this means that you have to put it outside or in another part of the house while you call it, and it will then realise that something pleasurable happens when it responds.
WHEN TO FETCH
Conversely, it is better to fetch a cat, rather than calling it, if something boring or even unpleasant is going to happen, such as shutting it in a room while you do something in another room, or taking it to the vet.
Remember that teaching your cat to respond to its name can also save it from danger if it is trapped. So it’s definitely worth putting in the effort to training your cat to respond to its name.
- Cats respond best to a fairly short, simple name, that has clear consonants at the beginning and end. Tigger works well, for example.
- By the time a cat is an adult, it should have learned to respond to its name.
- It is important for a cat to respond to its own name – there are all too many lucky cats that have been rescued simply because they have called out in response to their owner’s voice when they found themselves trapped or in danger.