To have your cat come when called by name is remarkably easy though it takes an understanding of the process. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Talk to your cat as much as you can. Encourage her to come to you, and regularly pet her and brush her. Bonding is very important, cat massage, baths and generally being on good terms is important.
2. Pick a special dry snack that she likes. It must be different to her regular dry food and only used for this (don’t give it to her at any other time until she’s mastered this). Make certain it is nutritious. I suggest a dry, crunchy snack that is also good for the teeth.
3. Pick a special word, such as “snack” or “treat.” It must be a word she will associate only with the special snack. This is creating an “anchor” (a trigger).
4. Use your special word during her next snack time. In her presence, place one piece of the food in her empty dish and say the special word.
5. Say the word again (and be sure to say it in the same way as before) after she eats the first piece. Place another piece of the food in her dish and say the special word again.
6. Walk away. If she is giving you “I am really starving” cries, say your word again and give her one more piece. Then walk out of the room.
7. Repeat the procedure after about 4 minutes. Cats learn very quickly when they are motivated and have a strong bond with you.
8. Follow this procedure for the next several days.
9. Once your cat is coming every time you say the special word, start only giving the food treat every so often and instead give lots of attention (whatever she likes such as a pet) for a few minutes. Then let her go and repeat the process a few minutes later.
10. If you’ve done the above right, and you’ve done the bonding exercises in the training manual, your cat should now be associating affection from you with the special word. Now you can use the word and she should come AND each time she sees or hears you nearby she will be more affectionate because she’s reminded of all the affection you’ve given her in the past.
Don’t forget, it is to be a small snack, not a small bowl of dry food. Otherwise, your kitty might gain unwanted weight. Be patient and follow the above exactly otherwise you will confuse your cat. Use the special word daily, not only when you want to find the cat for a trip to the vet or when it is bath time. On those occasions, give her the snack and try to allow a few minutes before following through on your hidden motive. Another little secret is that if you can whistle, most cats will respond. Usually, a very loud high-pitched whistle (as if to say, “Here, boy”), repeated over and over until the cat comes to you is very effective. Eventually, your cat will come after only 1 or 2 whistles. However, again this is based on a strong bond being in place.
It’s important to note that the bond is most important because then your cat will WANT to come to you whenever you give it the chance. This is why some people find that if I want her to come to them, or sit on their lap, all they have to is pat their leg with their hand, and tell her to come, and she hops up on their lap or come to them. A way to do this is to show her the brush. (Assuming your cat loves to be brushed) because when you show it to her, she’ll run over to you. If your cats are outside and you can’t find them, if you shake their “dry food” jar and they may well come running right away. To make this more powerful, every time you feed your cat make the same “shake” noise in front of them or when they can hear, just before you feed them.
How does the above work?
Well basically what you are doing is conditioning your cat to associate two things. (The special word with the treat for example). When this happens a few times, your cat learns that when the trigger happens, the other thing should happen. (For example, “when I hear the special word and I come, I get a treat”). This means from then on you can say the special word and the cat will come running because it thinks it will get a treat. Once your cat ALWAYS does the desired behavior, (in this case comes when you say the special word), you can change the special word for their name, if you know how. I’ll tell you more about that in a future newsletter.