Kittens typically need to be brought to the vet for vaccines every three to four weeks until they’re 16 weeks old, but that’s also a crucial time to begin training your cat, researchers have reported.
Unlike dogs, cats have become domestic pets only within the past 50 years. In countless ways, they are still wild animals and experience stress as a result of the demands humans place on them in the home.
That pressure often drives cats to act out in ways owners find frustrating: scratching the drapes, dragging dead rodents and birds through the cat door, and pooping behind the couch.
The only way to help cats adapt to the pressure placed on them is to train them, which is — in fact — possible.
Contrary to popular belief, training can actually be more beneficial to cats than it is to dogs. This comes as a result of dogs spending time with humans for much longer.
Cats only began coexisting with humans about 10,000 years ago and have remained largely undomesticated for the majority of that time.
The first evidence of humans bonding with cats is only from about 4,000 years ago in Egypt, where archaeologists discovered evidence of cats being ceremonially buried alongside their former owners.
Contemporary relationships with cats are a bit different, though.
As far as training cats goes, they learn in much the same way that dogs do. However, there are a few fundamental differences.
Cats’ primary attachment is to a place, not people. A cat’s first priority is to find a safe place to live and a steady source of food, not bond with their owner.
In addition, cats won’t benefit from being scolded. Scientific evidence indicates that they don’t comprehend the idea that humans are thinking about them, which means scolding them won’t have any effect.
Similarly, the squirt bottle technique isn’t effective, either. If an owner sprays their cat with water every time they jump on the counter, the cat is more likely to associate the punishment with the owner’s presence, not the counter.
A 2011 survey of about 2,200 American cat and dog owners sponsored by Bayer Healthcare showed that dogs were 70% more likely to be taken to the vet than cats.
When the cat owners were asked what dissuaded them from taking their cat to the veterinarian’s office, 58% said that it was because their pet hated the whole experience, and 38% said that they felt stressed just thinking about the trip.
Some cat owners described a veterinary visit as “torture.” As a result, millions of cats aren’t getting the medical care that they need.
Cats may not learn exactly the same way that dogs do, but they are certainly worthy of proper care and training.