How to Train Your Cat to Come When Called (tools & tips)

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Is your feline friend playing hard to get?

As cat owners, we understand the struggle of getting our cats to respond to their names, let alone come when called.

Despite their independent nature, cats can indeed be taught to respond to their names or a specific command, just like dogs.

But before you dismiss the idea as far-fetched, know this: with patience, the right approach, and a dash of creativity, you could be just a few training sessions away from turning your aloof kitty into an obedient furball.

gray cat standing in front of brown door

How Cats Learn: The Basics

Let’s peel back the layers of cat behavior.

Unlike dogs, cats are solitary hunters, and their learning style leans more towards the independent side. They are keen observers and pick up new behaviors through positive experiences.

For instance, they quickly learn that the sound of a can opener likely leads to a delicious meal. The key to successful cat training lies in understanding this inherent learning style.

By incorporating rewards and creating positive associations, you could teach your cat to respond to a specific call.

Can Cats Be Trained to Come When Called?

The simple answer is, yes! While it might seem like an uphill battle at first, cats can be taught to respond to a call.

But remember, training a cat requires a different approach than training a dog. Cats are less interested in pleasing their humans and more motivated by rewards that directly benefit them.

So, if you’ve been trying the dog-training manual on your cat with no success, it’s time to flip the script. Think rewards, patience, and understanding your cat’s unique personality, and you’re on the right track.

Step-by-Step: Training Your Cat to Come

Here’s a the steps on how to train your cat to come to you.

1. Pick Your Unique Command

The first step is to decide on a command that you’ll use consistently. It can be your cat’s name, or a specific word or sound.

Whichever command you choose, it needs to be unique, so your cat doesn’t confuse it with daily household noises. Keep it simple and easy to distinguish.

2. Build The Happy Connection

Start in a quiet room where your cat feels comfortable. Call your cat using the chosen command, and when they come to you, reward them with a treat or a pet.

This creates a positive association between the command and the reward. It’s crucial to reward your cat immediately after they respond, to help them understand the connection.

3. Go The Extra Distance

Once your cat starts responding consistently in the same room, you can start increasing the distance. Begin by calling them from a different room, and when they come, remember to reward them immediately.

Gradually extend this to calling them when they’re outside or busy with something else.

4. Bring On The Distractions

As your cat becomes proficient at responding to the command without distractions, it’s time to introduce some. You can try this when there are more people in the room, or when the television is on.

Remember, the goal is to get your cat to focus on your command, regardless of the distractions around them.

5. Practice Makes Purr-fect

Consistency is key when it comes to training your cat. Make sure to practice regularly, but not to the point of exhaustion for your cat. Short, frequent training sessions are more effective than long, infrequent ones.

Remember, it’s important to pay attention to your cat’s cues and adapt your approach accordingly. Be patient, and in no time, you’ll have a cat that comes when called!

Suggested reading: Teach Your Cat to Meow or to Sit.

Recommended Tools for Training

One crucial aspect of successful cat training is having the right tools and treats. Here are some recommendations that can assist you:

  1. Training Clicker. A training clicker, like the PetSafe Clik-R Trainer, is a simple yet effective tool for cat training. It produces a consistent sound, making it an ideal choice for your unique command sound. Its ergonomic design fits comfortably in your hand, making it convenient to use during training sessions.
  2. Cat Treats. Rewarding your cat is key to successful training. Using a high-value treat that your cat loves can make a significant difference. Wellness Kittles Grain-Free Cat Treats are an excellent option. These treats are grain-free, made with real meat, and come in various flavors.
  3. Cat Toys. Diversifying rewards can help if your cat is motivated by more than just food. Try the Yeowww! Catnip Toy, which is filled with potent catnip and is irresistible to most cats.

Remember, different cats are motivated by different things. Try out various rewards and tools until you find what works best for your furry friend.

Suggested reading: Cat Training – Train Your Cat To “Stay”

What Command Should You Use to Call Your Cat?

When choosing a command, the most crucial aspect is to pick a unique sound that your cat can clearly distinguish from everyday noises.

A two-syllable name or a distinct sound that can be made consistently, like a whistle or a click, works well. The command should be distinct and consistent, so it’s immediately recognizable to your cat.

However, your tone also matters. Cats respond better to higher-pitched sounds, as these are less threatening and more akin to the sound frequency at which cats communicate.

So, even if your cat’s name is something like “Bartholomew,” calling them in a higher, chirpy tone like “Bar-Bar!” would likely yield a better response.

Suggested read: How to Train a Cat To “Leave it”

When Your Cat Doesn’t Respond: What’s Next?

If your cat isn’t responding, don’t panic or get frustrated.

Cats are independent creatures and may take time to respond consistently. However, if you’re consistently facing non-responsiveness, try changing the reward or the environment to create more interest.

But here’s a piece of unique advice – try training your cat right before mealtime when they are most motivated for food rewards. This subtle shift can make a significant difference in their responsiveness to training.

Here’s a troubleshooting table for reference:

ProblemPossible Solution
Cat isn’t responding to the commandChange the reward or train right before mealtime
Cat responds well at home, but not outsideBegin training in a secure outdoor area and gradually increase distractions
Cat only comes when it wants foodDiversify the rewards. Use petting, praise, or playtime as rewards
Cat is scared or anxious during trainingReduce distractions, create a calm training environment, and ensure rewards are highly motivating

Remember, persistence is key. Stay patient, and keep the training sessions enjoyable for your cat. After all, the bond you’re building with your furry friend during this process is what truly matters.

Improve your cat behavior by teaching your cat:


How can I practice recall training safely with my cat?

To practice recall training safely, ensure your cat is in a secure, familiar environment with minimal distractions. Start in a quiet room and gradually introduce safe distractions.

Can I train my cat to respond to different family members calling?

Yes, your cat can be trained to respond to different family members. The key is consistency in the command and reward system from everyone involved in the training.

My cat only comes when it wants food. How can I change this?

To change this behavior, diversify the rewards. Use petting, praise, or playtime as rewards to make the recall command not just about food.

What if my cat responds well at home but not outdoors?

If your cat responds well at home but not outdoors, start training in a secure outdoor area. Gradually increase distractions to train your cat to respond even in an outdoor environment.

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