If you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, what does that say for teaching cats anything? Luckily, there isn’t a lot of truth behind that old adage. Senior dogs can, indeed, learn new things and cats can certainly be trained as well!
Brodie Animal Hospital is a big believer in positive reinforcement training for dogs and cats alike. Positive reinforcement techniques always leave that burning question, though – what kind of treats or best? Read on to learn about our favorite training treats for cats.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive reinforcement training is a technique that involves adding a reinforcing stimulus (usually a treat or praise) to a wanted behavior to ensure that the behavior is more likely to occur again in the future. It’s not rocket science: you reward things that you like.
Training in this way, though, has been shown to produce much stronger and more lasting effects than punishment. For instance, in the long run it is more effective to teach your cat that you want them to go sit on their cat tree while you eat dinner than to shoo them off of the dinner table.
Positive reinforcement training can be a little work, but the rewards are immense.
Create a Reward Ladder
When trying to train a pet with positive reinforcement, it is important to recognize that not all rewards are created equal. Sure, Sheba may appreciate a good scratch under the chin, but compared to a favorite treat? Not even on the radar.
It is important to piece together a kind of reward ladder for your pet. This will differ from animal to animal depending on their personalities and preferences. Lower rung rewards (maybe physical attention or a low value treat) can be used generously. Higher rung, (more valuable) rewards should be saved to reward extra-special behaviors.
Our Favorite Training Treats for Cats
It is important to remember that treats are just that, treats. They should be used in moderation and any adverse gastrointestinal effects noted.
That said, there are lots of great things out there that you can use as training treats for cats. Some are even a little harder to enjoy, which can provide a little distraction while you work on things like nail trimming or brushing.
Some of our favorite training treats for cats include:
- Whipped cream
- Canned spray cheese
- Meat baby food
- INABA Churu sticks
- Catnip (fresh or dried)
- Crunchy or soft kitty treats such as Temptations
- Feline Greenies (bonus added dental health benefits)
- Freeze dried meats or fish
Treats should never make up more than 10% of your cat’s diet, and it is important to remember that treats have calories, too. If you are not sure how much is safe to give your pet, or if you are unsure of the best choices for your cat, please ask us.
Cats are intelligent creatures and love to learn, you just need to find their motivation sometimes. Hopefully by experimenting with some of our favorite training treats for cats and building your own reward ladder, you can find some special motivators for your feline friend.