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Did you know you can train your cat?

For decades many of us believed cats were just dumb animals (not just unable to speak, but unable to learn anything.) Boy, were people wrong in that idea! Though it is true cats can be standoffish and even aloof, but training may even help correct that trait. Cats can be trained to be better house citizens as well as more communicative with their owner. It is a playtime activity and a chance to bond better with your pet.

This is Cello, an orange Domestic Shorthair young male and member of the Fillmore Street Band.
This is Cello, an orange Domestic Shorthair young male and member of the Fillmore Street Band.
Sara Ferguson
These cats up on the counter could learn this is a no no with clicker training.
Jo Ann Wentzel

It is known how dogs can be trained to be perfect models of citizens. Dogs are trained for jobs such as detecting drugs and other bad things. Dogs can be become therapy dogs and guide dogs, even becoming companion for those with emotional issues. All this is done through training.

Recently, a brief training demonstration of cats was viewed at Happy Cats Haven in Colorado Springs. Sara Ferguson, founder of Happy Cats Haven, showed how well cats can respond if trained. It was just short of amazing for people who think cats just lie around and purr. Using a variation of the click training method, Sara had the cats move from space to space, sit on mats, roll over and pat her hand like a high five gesture and just obey her wishes without being forced in any way. The cats looked like they enjoyed the game since that is most likely how they see this practice. Part of the training rewards the cats with food, the most usual motivator in training, but they also received praise and appeared to respond to that as well. In this case the reward was a lick of a spoon with baby food on it. They loved the pure meat taste of chicken or turkey.

Training cats is more than parlor tricks since they can be taught to do things you desire them to do in your home. Living skills such as not clawing furniture or staying off your kitchen counter would be two such skills able to be achieved through training. There are many more training possibilities and the only limitation is the patience of the trainer.

Sara approached these cats with a confident, but friendly demeanor and spoke very softly to them. In this case she used a short pointer object and made a clicking sound with her mouth. You can actually buy clickers, but they are loud and Sara believes they could scare the shyer cats.

The interview also included, Allison DuVal, another of the first group of founders who started Happy Cats Haven. She reported that they answer many questions on the phone every day about correcting bad cat behavior and offer help so folks can jeep their animals rather than surrendering them.

Of course, they get lots of people who wish to be part of the procedure to adopt one of these beautiful cats. There is a waiting list of cats to be taken in and many who wish to adopt them once they are ready. These cats may be surrendered animals from people, feral cats or cats suddenly without caretakers. The shelter only houses up to 30 cats at a time and they live in small colonies in this facility. It was obvious they get lots of special attention and are well cared for at Happy Cats Haven. For more information, call them at 719-4440-7252 and ask for Sara or Allison.

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