Step 1: Begin by making it a habit to talk to your cat often, and create a strong bond with her through petting, brushing, and spending time together. Take every opportunity to give her your love and attention. Having a good relationship with your cat is very important.
Step 2: Find a special dry treat that she really loves. This should be something that she doesn't have very often, and it will only be used for this purpose. While you are training her to come when called, make sure you don't give her this particular treat at any other time. Please choose something small and nutritious. A snack that is good for your cat's teeth would be ideal.
Step 3: Find a special word that will be used for training her to come. This will become a word that she associates only with this special treat, so think of something that she won't often hear at other times.
Step 4: The next time you give your cat a snack, use the special word. Put one treat in her empty food bowl while speaking the word out loud.
Step 5: Say the word again after she eats the treat. Then give her another of the same treat, and use the word again in the same way.
Step 6: Step away from your cat now. If she protests that she is "starving" you can say the word again and give her one more piece. Then leave the room.
Step 7: About 4 minutes later, repeat the entire process again. Your cat will begin to learn to associate the special word with her special treat.
Step 8: Continue doing this a few times a day for the next several days. Eventually, your cat will learn to come to you when you say the special word.
Step 9: When your cat starts coming to you every time you say the special word, start giving her the treat only once in a while. The rest of the time, give her lots of attention (petting, scratches, playing with a toy, whatever she likes) for a few minutes. Then let her go. Repeat this process a few minutes later.
Step 10: If you have created a strong bond with your cat, and if you have followed the above procedures correctly, your cat will now associate your special word with the extra attention and loves she gets from you. She should now be coming to you when she hears you say the word.
Please remember, the treat must be a small and nutritious snack, not something large, or a whole bowl of food. She will be eating a fair number of these during training, and we don't want her to gain extra weight!
Make sure that you use the special word every day, just so that she will come to you for affection and hugs. If you use it only when it is time to take her to the vet or give her a bath, she will learn to associate the word with unpleasant times and it can undermine the effects of your training. When these types of occasions do come up, give your cat the treat and then wait a little bit before following through with your "hidden motive".
So why does this technique work so well?
What this all boils down to is conditioning your cat to associate your special word with getting attention from you. The word becomes the trigger, to which she responds in order to get something she wants. Once this happens, any time you say the special word your cat comes because she knows she will be rewarded.
As you can see, the bond you form with your cat is the most important aspect of getting her to come when you call. When your cat knows that she will get love and affection from being close to you, then she will WANT to come to you any time she can.
I learned these tips and many others from Mary Matthews' book Ultimate Cat Secrets. If you would like to enjoy a loving relationship with a perfectly well behaved cat, this is well worth a read!
All the best to you and your feline friends,
I love cats and I believe that every cat and cat lover deserves a happy and harmonious home together. I am always seeking out information about cats and I enjoy sharing it with other people who enjoy them as much as I do. Please visit my blog for more about caring for cats and cat behavior!
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