Training your cat can be a lengthy and challenging job. Mainy might argue it’s a pointless, unthankful and painstaking endeavour.
Felines in the wild have no requirement to react to a call or a name being yelled, so this is something that requires them to be taught, instead of being a natural feline impulse.
Training a cat to come when called by their name, command or click is truly handy for you as the owner though. You can call them for a short journey to the veterinarians, call them down for food, and even call them in from outdoors when you understand bad weather conditions are coming.
Maybe, even off a road or away from danger.
As long as you put in the time and effort and follow this handy guide, they’ll be running back to you in no time.
It is a bit odd though, as this should only be used for Maine Coons that are a bit ‘unMaineCoonish’. My Maine Coon follows me around, but she is an indoor cat. Maybe this makes more sense for those of you with outdoor Maine Coons.
All Maine Coons will have a favorite treat. Something that just makes them salivate. Tuna is a good example for most. You can turn this ‘weakness’ to your advantage, and utilize it to your benefit which will assist in your mission to train your Maine Coon.
You should start by making your Maine Coon very familiar with the treat in question. Deliberately making the act of opening a tin, or opening a bag, that bit louder than normal.
Essentially it’s called positive reinforcement. Making a connection between doing something and a reward. Normally, you want to connect it to behaviour, but the act of ‘opening a bag’ for example, or ‘tapping a tin’ ought to be connected to receiving a treat.
They’ll quickly understand that the sounds of the treat bag being ripped open suggest a yummy benefit is on the way.
Once they’ve mastered this, you can present the command you desire them to react to, together with the sound of the treat package. The goal is to create positive reinforcement.
A sort of Pavlov’s cats arrangement,
This might be their name, the word ‘treat’, ‘cat’ or something comparable. Its required to be brief and ‘to the point’ so it gets their attention instantly. Monosyllabic words work well here.
Be sure to state the command whenever you provide your Maine Coon the treat. This enhances the link between the treat and the benefit together with the name or word you’re calling out.
As soon as you feel they’ve begun to connect the two actions, you can begin calling them, with the treat bag, from a considerate range, or perhaps out of the line of sight.
Discreetly, and hopefully undiagnosed by your Maine Coon, you are getting them to get up and move towards you in order for their reward. Start with small distances away and gradually build it up. Eventually you can get them responding to the word treat if they are hungry or in the mood for it, from quite large distances away.
Those Maine Coon ears serve quite the purpose.
If you have never used clickers before, they are a fantastic training tool. They are gadgets that are simplicity itself. They sit in your hand and when a button is depressed, it makes a nice ‘click’ sound. Loud enough for your cat to hear from a fair way away.
The remote control would change the command/name, however your cat would be trained in the exact same method as above.
Many people who utilize clickers are owners who don’t like yelling their cat’s name in the neighborhood, so this has anonymity benefits, as well as, according to catster at least can reduce stress and make your cat feel more secure..
If you have more than one cat, or indeed a small pack of dogs, a clicker can replace shouting all the names out each time you want to feed them. Although if your cat is anything like my Maine Coon, Alita, she will know what you are doing at all times.
She follows me around a lot.
You should applaud your Maine Coon with their everyday meals as well.
In getting them to associate the clicker with positive results and rewards, just prior to putting the food down, you can call them and use the clicker. If this is done at roughly the same time each day, the Maine eventually learns the ‘click’ sound means good news.
What can often work is a ‘soft call’. When they are outside or otherwise engaged, try calling them in for a treat with the clicker. Instead of letting them just saunter back in when they feel like it, if they are outside and around the house, it further reinforces the clicker with returning to the house for a reward.
As soon as your Maine Coon has actually mastered reacting to you from a range (wishful thinking sometimes I know), it might be a good time to introduce the concept of coming to you for another reward. Like a fuss or a play with a toy.
Perhaps mix it with treats to introduce curiosity, and interest but cut down the treats over time and step up the affection and play. Your Maine Coon is still getting a reward but the main thing is it is learning to respond to your calls to come to you.
Despite what your best instincts tell you sometimes, Maine Coons are very social creatures with you. They will love to interact with you, and you can use this trait to reward their actions when they respond to a clicker. You are also improving the bond between you both, and getting them used to the positive results of performing the task you are asking of them.
Previously you might have been having to give them a few treats per day to keep the training fresh in their memory. A few times a week isn’t going to make them associate the clicker and the coming to you for a treat.
Once you have it down to say, once a day, clicking and your Maine Coon coming to you then you should consider that a success. A treat a day won’t do them any harm and will reinforce the behaviour they have learned.
Personally, I’d consider continuing with the treat (unless they are putting on weight) and keep them happy.
This is training you will need to keep up. Don’t overdo it and don’t just click for the sake of it, or the cat will start to wean off the advantages of coming to you. They need to keep associating that click with a favorable outcome.
Firstly, you should start them from a young age. Whilst it’s not really plausible to do it when they are kittens, when your Maine Coon is old enough to learn it can get treats and is a little more independent would be fine. The quicker you implement a strategy of trying to associate a ‘click’ or a ‘namecall’ with a treat, the better. A clicker works well for this, as it can unmistakably be used only when treats are available. You might call your Maine Coons name a lot so it might have trouble differentiating.
I realise some people might have adopted a Maine Coon or rescued one, and might not have raised them from kitten status. If it is possible talk to anyone who previously associated with the cat and ask if they started or had any procedures of training that you could build upon. Sometimes, those little memories might come in useful.
Maine Coons are an intelligent breed of cat, they are a quick study and should latch on quite easily if you perform the training correctly. It’s up to you, how many times a day you want to give your cat a treat, and practice. I’d just judge how your cat is responding and go from there. Don’t overdo it, but don’t under do it either. Between 2 and 5 times a day to get them used it seem fine.
The key is to keep at it. Every day, make it a regimented action to get your Maine Coon a ‘treat and a click’. Frankly, the more repetition the better, but don’t overdo it, you don’t want your Maine Coon on the equivalent of a McDonald’s diet.
If it’s taking a while, and you need to do it often, try switching to something more healthy, but likeable. Tuna works well for my cat.
Short and snappy is the name of the game. If your cat isn’t moving, maybe because it’s enjoying the sun, don’t force the issue. Don’t keep clicking away. That will then start the negative association going. It needs to learn whenever it responds, it’s a positive experience.
Another advantage of short session training is that they will not get overfed easily each time. It might leave them hungry still and wanting more, so this plays right into your hands if you try it again, a bit later. The whole process can become a lot more efficient.
Never use force or punishment to get them to conform. Again, this produces the opposite affect and will just confuse your Maine Coon. They may even learn to associate a ‘click’ with an uncomfortable experience. If they don’t come, it may be they just aren’t hungry or are tired.
Eventually you will reduce the number of treats anyway, so they eventually just come because they will want a rare treat when you call.
Remember, not all cats are like Einstein or as active you may like. They all learn at different paces and enjoy different things. The key is to be patient and learn along with your cat how they behave, some cats bore easily, so you may need to make them sharp and snappy and leave it there.
Dogs are somewhat taught differently. The ‘come here boy’ command is one of the first things a dog learns, and if called will bound your way effortlessly and with enthusiasm, especially if there is some kind of ‘scooby snack’ on offer. Cats, being a little more wilful and independent, have to be coaxed somewhat differently.
Investing the time and effort into teaching your Maine Coon to come when called is a lovely little trick which shouldn’t be taken lightly. While fun, you are hopefully doing it for a purpose.
Showing off to friends and visitors kind of wears out the trick.
Hopefully it will give you peace of mind, that when performed, your Maine Coon will stop what it’s doing and come rushing towards you. One day, this neat little party peice, may end up saving one of its nine lives.
Here is a lady with similar advice if you like to learn visually.
Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One