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Have you heard the phrase "like herding cats" in reference to a task that is next to impossible? The saying is actually a misnomer, because controlling cats, and even training them, is indeed possible. With a bit of patience and repetition, you can teach your kitty to sit, lie down and come on command.
The "Sit" Command
When your cat sits on command, you will pave the way for teaching your favorite feline other trained skills. For this first lesson to work, you will need a quiet area, a table and a special treat that your cat loves. Follow these three steps:
1. Gently put your cat on the table at the edge nearest to you. Pet your cat to make it feel comfortable and relaxed.
2. Show your cat the food reward. Next, say your pet's name followed by the command word, as in, "Tabitha, sit." Move the reward back toward you and then over your cat's head.
3. As your cat tips its head back to follow the food, it will sit to keep its balance. At this point say, "Sit, good sit," and then give your cat a treat.
Your cat will soon sit without you having to move the food over its head. At that point, you do not need to put your pet on a table to sit. If your cat does not sit during the lesson, gently press down on its hindquarters. Then repeat, "Sit, good sit." This will work with some cats, while others may resist. Be gentle and patient. Whatever you do, avoid frustrating or frightening your cat. If your kitty resists, try again another time.
The "Lie Down" Command
Once you have taught your cat to sit, getting it to lie down should be relatively easy. Here's how:
1. Gently sit the cat on the table at the edge nearest to you and give it affection as before.
2. Hold a treat in one hand slightly below and in front of the table and say its name followed by the word "down," as in, "Tabitha, down."
3. When your cat lowers itself to reach for the food, say, "Down, good down." Give your cat a treat.
Your feline will eventually lie down following your command. Be gentle and patient. Do not be afraid to help your cat into position. Again, if your cat is just not in the mood for this, try some other time.
The "Come" Command
The best way to teach your cat to come is to call your pet to its bowl. Since your kitty already comes to you for food, this should be a cinch. You therefore should start to train your cat this command at mealtimes. The following training session only requires two steps.
1. Call out your cat's name proceeded by the word "come," as in, "Tabitha, come."
2. When your cat comes, say, "Come, good come," in an upbeat way. Give your cat a treat.
Once your cat has learned to come to its bowl, try the same steps in another location. Your cat should eventually come to you whenever you say, "Come." When your feline does follow your command, affectionately say, "Come, good come," and again reward kitty with a treat.
Training your cat to do basic moves is just one of the many ways you can bond with your four-legged friend. And think of how impressed your two-legged friends will be!
Lambeth Hochwald is a New York City-based writer and editor who adores a sweet, loyal, adopted little dog named Ginger.