Positive Reinforcement Cat Training

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by brodys_mom, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    So my oldest daughter has moved out with a couple of roommates. (She cites Brody as being 70% of the reason she left, btw). Two weeks ago, they adopted a wee kitty, who is very sweet, naturally, but has a penchant for climbing things, like people's pant legs, and shredding things, like people's pant legs. Today she called and chatted a bit, then said she was off the the dollar store to pick up a spray bottle for Tom Hanks (her kitten). What for? I asked. To spray him in the face to stop him from climbing their legs and shredding their pants, among other things. They also give him a little flick on the nose if he attacks them or jumps up on the kitchen counters. I said it was a bad idea, but she insists "everyone I know says this is the best way to stop this behavior". I told her they are the same experts who would recommend a prong collar and a smack on the nose for Brody.

    I have no experience with a cat like this, but I told her to use a cat carrier and put him in there when he does things they don't like. No yelling or screaming, just calmly take him from the situation and give him a time out. And never lure him up onto things or play with him in a way that rewards him for doing things they don't like. Find some treats that he really loves, and some great toys and reward him for playing nicely and sitting on the floor. I also told her that all the roommates and any visitors must do the same, no one is allowed to encourage the unwanted behavior by paying attention to it.

    Have I missed anything? Has anyone done this with their cat successfully?
    jackienmutts and MaryK like this.

  2. Pawbla Experienced Member

    I think he's just bored. Tell her to watch Jackson Galaxy's program (My Cat From Hell). I watched it because of a recommendation here (I posted because my dog was getting really nervous about my cat's behaviour), and Galaxy's recommendations have been great for my cat. He's now a sweetheart. I used a spray bottle in the beginning because I was "mildly" desperate, but it's only successful if you want to have a cat terrified of spray bottles and if you can carry a spray bottle at all times. If you don't have a spray bottle on you, the cat will still behave however he wants. It's better to use positive reinforcement and to interact with him so he won't get bored.
    The leg climbing is normal in kittens, because they can't jump to places so they have to climb. Don't allow that to happen (with timeouts...) and he'll grow out of it soon enough.
    jackienmutts and MaryK like this.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I've noticed the program on the TV guide, but never watched it. The name sounds a little sensationalized, so I figured it was another one of those over-dramatized reality shows. Does the trainer use positive reinforcement?
    MaryK likes this.
  4. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    I think you can definately positive train a cat, Karen Pryor has stuff on the web about clicker training cats.
    There is also stuff on positive training in the link below:
    You could get your daughter to watch some of this guys videos too:

    If the link doesn't work search Kaiser and Nana on youtube. He has some great videos of his dog, cat, and rats that he has trained using positive only methods.
    His trained cat will blow your mind and might make her think that positive training might be the way to go and that she could actually be proud of showing off what she has taught her cat?
    MaryK and Pawbla like this.
  5. Pawbla Experienced Member

    It's a bit over-dramatized from the owner's point, but in all the episodes I've watched, he uses only positive reinforcement (and he's scolded a few owners from disregarding his instructions and keeping up with punishments).
    jackienmutts, MaryK and Ripleygirl like this.
  6. southerngirl Honored Member

    Jackson is great, I used his methods to help with my previous cat. Oh and the climbing the kitten will grow out of it. Personally I jut let mine climb me like a tree and I had three or four of them climbing my legs while trying to get ready. Wasn't to fun when I had shorts on. After a bit they all grew out of it.
  7. brody_smom Experienced Member

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  8. southerngirl Honored Member

    Yup. I would scream from the pain and grab them by the extra skin on there neck to get them off...
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  9. MaryK Honored Member

    I agree, don't use the spray bottle at all. Clicker training, the same as a dog, works just as well with cats - think Big Cats if you tried other methods you could be in serious trouble!!!!!!!!

    The climbing will stop but as it's painful, been there like Danielle, it's best to use a clicker and positive reinforcement.

    I've got two cats, both older when I got them, or I should say they adopted me, and have got both of them reasonably well trained using P+. My late cat Buddha was as good, if not better at times, than a dog he was so good and he was trained using P+ (but not the clicker at that time just treats).
    brodys_mom and kassidybc like this.
  10. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I also love Jackson Galaxy, he's great, he's so patient, and he'll def scold owners for using punishment or for being "mean" to their cats. He's very gentle and understands cats like no one I've ever heard before. Love his show!
  11. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I gave my daughter a cat carrier that she can use to crate the little duffer when he gets out of control. Of course, he's always demanding attention when she's working on school projects on the computer; he lies on the keyboard and such nonsense. She told me yesterday morning he woke her up by scratching at her eyelids! I also gave her a little stuffed toy purse that looks like a cat. We filled it with some crinkly plastic, and give it to him when he is in attack mode. She thinks he should just be able to amuse himself and leave her alone when she's busy. I told her maybe she should have taken two of the kittens, then they could amuse each other. Our two cats were adopted together as wee kitties and we never had any of these problems with them.
    MaryK likes this.
  12. MaryK Honored Member

    Cats laying on computer keyboards doing the Kitty Tango etc. is quite normal! Many a time I've had my work lost or a mess created by one of my cats deciding they wanted to learn how to use a computer - it's par for the course for a while:D:rolleyes: And it can be annoying, patience and training is required!!!!!!!

    Good idea, she should have taken two kittens as yes they do amuse themselves and are a lot less bother to their humans.

    Love the sound of toy but be careful using the cat carrier as somewhere to put the kitten when it's playing up, she doesn't want the kitten to think 'hey I don't wanna go in here' when she needs to take the kitten to the vet etc. Make sure the kitten wants/is happy to go into the carrier, not put there for punishment.

    Kittens are a delight but they do need, especially if they're an only child, loads of play time and attention from their humans. They do settle and become quite laid back with time. HRH Sylvannia Faery Kitten would do her full on obstacle training course around the furniture, humans and anything which got in her path when she was a kitten. Now LOL she can barely be bothered to move, even at feeding time!
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  13. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Yeah I don't know if I mentioned it or thought about mentioning, but I don't think crating a kitten in a standard carrier is a good idea. I worked A LOT to create a positive association with the carrier and my cat, and it was not easy even if he had NO prior experience with the carrier (I never took him to the vet with it, used it for anything negative, etc). He still doesn't go in willingly on it, but he doesn't fight me when I make him go through the door.

    What he probably needs is a very big and different kind of crate (like the one you crate dogs in). But still, considering what you've said about your daughter, and the fact that she seems quite young, it would be an "easy way out" for the cat's problems, and not a correct punishment.

    You're on the right track, but I think you must consider what a standard (not-in-the-training-world) person would be willing to do, instead of what you would do to fix the problem.
    MaryK and brodys_mom like this.
  14. brody_smom Experienced Member

    The carrier is on the larger side. It was used for a very large adult cat as well as a small dog, with room to spare. It has a top door as well as a front, so it provides quite a bit of light and he can move and play in there quite easily. My daughter is actually in Minnesota for the next 10 days, so her two roommates have to handle the situation for the time being. They were the ones who got the advice to use the spray bottle. If it comes down to that, is the crate a better option?

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