Training your cat can be a tricky and time-consuming task. Cats in the wild have no need to respond to a name or a call, so this is something that needs to be taught, rather than being a natural feline instinct.
Training a cat to come when called by their name, command or click is really helpful for you as the owner. You can call them for a trip to the vets, call them down for food, and even call them in from outside when you know bad weather is on its way.
As long as you put in the time and effort and follow this helpful guide, they’ll be running back to you in no time.
Cats love treats, just as any animal does. So using them to your advantage will help in the quest to train your Maine Coon.
Start by getting them used to the sound of the treat bag, for instance, rustling the bag when opening it and then moving the treats between your fingers. They’ll soon know that the noises of the treat bag mean a tasty reward is on its way.
Once they’ve got the hang of this, you can introduce the command you want them to respond to, along with the noise of the treat packet. This could be their name, the word ‘treat’, ‘kitty’ or something similar. It needs to be short and snappy so it grabs their attention immediately.
Whenever you give your cat a treat, be sure to say the command. This reinforces the link between the treat and the reward along with the name or word you’re calling out. You are using positive reinforcement on your Maine Coon.
Once you feel they’ve started to associate the two, you can start calling them, with the treat bag, from a distance. Subtly, you are getting your Maine Coon to move to you in order for its reward. Obviously start by being a small distance away where the cat can actually see you and move towards you for the treat.
Then try doing it in different rooms of the house, not too far away but far enough that they have to work out where your voice, and the rustling of the treat bag is coming from.
Clickers are great training aids. They are devices that are small enough to fit into your hand, and when pressed, make a ‘click’ noise.
The clicker would replace the command/name, but your cat would be trained in the same way as above.
Most people who use clickers are conscious of shouting their cat’s names in their neighbourhood, so it allows anonymity for you and your cat.
They are also beneficial if you have more than one pet in your household. You can train all of your pets to respond to the one noise, rather than having to call various names out throughout the day.
As well as using treats, you can praise your furry friend with their daily meals.
Before placing their food down, shout their name, command or use the clicker. Let them know that their reward is their food and this will work positively towards the command-reward association.
If you let your cat roam free outside, try calling them in from time-to-time, rather than letting them come back when they please. This will also help your kitty associate their name, command or click with you and your home.
Once your Maine Coon has got the hang of responding to you from a distance, it may be time to think about weaning your cat off the treats.
Slowly cut down the amount of times you reward your cat with tasty treats when it responds to being called. Use different rewards such as a stroke across its back or a quick cuddle.
Showing them affection will reinforce that what they’ve done is positive. This also has a psychological effect, as your cat will remember and lavish the extra affirmation and affection you’re giving it, improving the bond between you both.
Once you’ve cut the treats down to maybe one a day, you should have cracked it! You can either cut the final treat out, or continue with it a while longer. One a day shouldn’t do any harm!
Start them from a young age, the sooner you implement this into their daily routine, the faster they should learn.
If you’ve not had your cat from a kitten, then speak to the people you adopted your cat from. They may have already started using techniques to get the cat to come when called. You can then carry on implementing strategies already used that the cat will have (hopefully) remembered.
Maine Coons are quite a clever breed so should catch on to this quite quickly. It’s best to try and do this at least twice a day.
Repetition, repetition, repetition. Doing it more regularly will help the cat remember the command and the treat associated with it. However, keep an eye on your cat’s treat intake and don’t overdo it. You don’t want them piling on the pounds just for the sake of their name.
When doing a training session, keep it short and sweet. Cats are known to have a short attention span if they’re not finding something interesting.
Regular short sessions will help you cut down on the treats and leave them wanting more. This in turn should contribute to them learning to come when called more effectively.
Never use punishment if they’re not doing as you’ve asked. Your cat won’t understand why they are being punished, and they will begin to associate the punishment with the training you’re trying to do. So, this will leave you even more frustrated and the cat less willing to carry on with the task.
If your cat is not reacting how you want it to, don’t worry, cats learn at different paces. If your cat loses interest quickly, end the session and try again a bit later.
For dog owners, a command such as this is one of the first it’s taught, and arguably, the most important command of all. We all know that cats are much smarter than their barking companions, but even with a higher intelligence, they are still prone to getting lost or going missing.
Investing the time and effort into teaching your cat this invaluable trick, will give you peace of mind knowing you can summon them if called (or clicked). Potentially saving one of their nine lives!
Here is a lady with similar advice if you like to learn visually.