Training your cat? Be prepared.

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How to Teach A Cat Its Name

Small kitten looking attentively

Kitty cats are certainly one of humanity's favorite companions. From the endless memes to the countless Youtube videos, cute cats are everywhere on the internet. But as any cat owner can tell you, sometimes cats can be enormously frustrating household companions. No matter how hard you try, it's nearly impossible to get your cat to come when you call them. Well unless you just opened a can of their favorite cat food. But if you’re a cat owner and you want to teach your furry friend to come when he is called check out the article below to learn everything you need to know about teaching your cat their name.

cat shaking hands for treat
Clicker training is an effective way to provide your pet with positive reinforcement when you are training them. Photo Courtesy of VetStreet.

First Step: Figuring Out The Perfect Positive Reinforcement Method

Using Clickers or Treats Can Teach Your Cat

As with any type of cat training, it is strongly encouraged that you use clicker training. If your cat already knows to respond positively to a clicker you have a huge head start on teaching them their name. This is because cats respond to positive reinforcement and clicker training allows you a shortcut when trying to provide your pet with positive reinforcement.

However, if you don’t or haven’t used any type of clicker training with your pet don’t worry. If your cat doesn’t know to relate a clicker with positive reinforcement, they’ll certainly associate delicious kitty treats with positive reinforcement. So if you’re cat doesn’t know to associate the sound of a clicker with praise, you can use plenty of cat treats and positive praise to supplement a clicker.

fluffy cat getting a treat
If you don’t use a clicker when you are training your cat, treats make an effective substitute.

Step Two: Help Your Furry Friend Focus

Make Sure You Find An Area Free From Distractions

Once you have a way to provide your cat with plenty of positive reinforcements, the first thing to do is take them somewhere they won’t be distracted. Their name is just a noise that you are making. They have no idea that one specific human noise you make is supposed to mean anything to them. So in order to make sure they associate that noise with the positive reinforcement, you’ll want to make sure there are no other noises that might confuse them. This will just slow down the process and confuse your cat.

Once you have a distraction and noise free environment you can begin forming the positive association in your cat's brain with the sound of its name. One important point here. If you want to get your cat to learn its name, you’ll have to try your best to stay consistent in what you call them. Yup, that's right. That means you’re gonna have to fight that urge to give them a new ridiculous nickname every time they do something adorable. If you are constantly calling your cat twenty different things they are never going to learn their name. It's hard enough to teach them to respond to their one proper name, let alone their thirty something ridiculous nicknames.

Once you’ve decided on what you actually want to call your cat, maybe you prefer their nickname to their technical name, the next thing you need to do is announce your cat’s name in a clear and concise tone. Make sure there is a reasonable volume to your voice and look right at your pet when you say their name.

Immediately offer them one of their delicious kitty treats or some food when you say their name., This will cause them to start forming a positive association with their name right away. Focus on saying their name in the most abrupt manner possible and then give them the food right away so they don’t confuse the treat with another noise or action. And as such you should avoid making any other noises that might obfuscate the process for them.

After you’ve done this a few times, take some steps away from your cat. Once you’ve put some distance between them and you, say their name again. If they don’t run over right away don’t worry. Keep saying their name clearly without saying other words or making other noises. When they do run over to you, make sure you reward their behavior and give them the treat right away. Repeat this process over and over. Be sure to reward your cat every time you say their name and they come to you.

You’ll want to do this process for roughly ten minutes at a time. Try to pick out a consistent ten minute period everyday to train your cat. They respond well to a tight schedule so teaching them at the same time everyday can speed up the process. Additionally, you’ll want to do this in the same spot everyday if you can. The sense of consistency helps your cat understand what is expected of them

cat with head perked in interest
Soon your cat will link the sound of their name with the feel good chemicals released in their brain when they want a treat and they will know to respond to the sound of their name,

Final Step: Test to See What They’ve Learned

Make the Process More Difficult to See If Your Kitty Cat Really Understands

Before too long you’ll be able to test if your cat has learned its name. Put them in the room where you normally train them and move to a different room in your house. Call out your pet's name and throw a simple command like “here” or “come” to the name as well. If your kitten comes running over to the room be prepared to shower them with treats and affections. You’ll want to reward this behavior because your cat finally learned to come when it was called and you want to encourage them to do so in the future. If your feline friend didn’t come running don’t worry. Keep sticking with the training schedule and before long the positive association between hearing its name and getting a reward will form in your cat's brain and they’ll learn to come when they are called.

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