Good kitty! How to provide cats with positive reinforcement
October 13, 2021

Good kitty! How to provide cats with positive reinforcement

good kitty

A cat lying on the floor

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Cats are highly responsive pets that can learn amazing behaviour in the right setting. However, they only respond to positive reinforcement, with punishment only serving to stress them out and inhibit their learning ability.

Yelling, water spraying or, worst of all, hitting your cat will not return favourable results - you must be kind for them to be comfortable and learn positive behaviours!

You already get them great food, you’ve acquired the best cat insurance in Australia, and now it’s time to learn how to provide positive reinforcement to your cat so that they learn amazing behaviour around the home.

1. Encourage sociability

Cats often hide when they come to a new home: this is totally normal, but you don’t want them hiding all the time! Instead, you can encourage sociability by coaxing them out of their hiding spot with treats. Treats work to reward him or her for coming out of their spot and learning to be around their new family.

2. To accept petting

Cats often don’t like being petted, but this is because they haven’t yet learned that it’s a positive thing. So, to have your cat become comfortable with being petted, be sure to reward petting sessions with a cheeky little treat so that they know it’s certainly not a bad thing to get an affectionate petting. Be sure to stop the petting before your kitten has a negative reaction to the attention, however, as you don’t want them to associate the act with unpleasantness!

3. Using the scratching post

It’s important for cats to enjoy using their scratching post so that they don’t turn your thousand dollar sofa into one! But they may not associate their new scratching post with a place to do exactly that. In this circumstance, be sure to reward your cat for using the post - they will associate the post with rewards and use that instead of your furniture or, say, a nice coat you’ve hung up on the door.

4. Reward relaxed behaviour

Cats can often be aggressive with their owner, other cats or animals in general. However, it’s not behaviour you really want them to fall into as it can not only be dangerous but also very hard to reverse.

So, be sure to reward them for the times when they aren’t causing too much trouble. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding a cat for being calm and relaxed, especially in the presence of their humans or other animals - this kind of positive reinforcement can carry through life and can be hugely rewarding for both kitten and owner!

5. Tricks

If you want to teach your cat tricks like come, jump, go to mat, high-five, sit, lay down etc. you aren’t going to get too far without some sort of reward. Why? Because these things might be a bit unnatural for a cat, and they certainly don’t want to do something that is originally unnatural to them if they aren’t going to get something out of it themselves!

But only reward for the right behaviour

It’s important to note that you should always distinguish between positive and negative behaviour and should avoid rewarding your cat for negative behaviour. If you have been considering giving your cat a treat but notice that they are doing something naughty, hold off on giving them the treat until they rectify the bad behaviour.

Otherwise, you may be treating them for bad behaviour which they may carry on throughout life - something that should be avoided at all costs!