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Can you train a cat like a dog?

Grey cat smelling human finger

Would you like to train your cat like a dog?

© Sozina Kseniia - Shutterstock

Training a cat like a dog: utopia or reality? Let's find out in this article if we can educate our feline friends just like our four legged friends!

By Emilie Heyl

Updated on the

The internet is full of cat videos performing amazing tricks, enough to make many cat owners jealous. When, in our turn, we want to teach our feline friend the same thing, it gets complicated. Your cat either looks at you as if to say “Do you really think I’m going to do that” or just walks off. Many owners have tried, unsuccessfully, to train their cat. Yes, here too we tried… and tried…

Unfortunately the wild ancestors of the feline species aren’t so far away. To educate a cat, you will need patience and above all respect its natural behaviour. So can you train a cat like a dog? Let’s find out.

Is it possible to train cats like dogs? 

Yes it is possible to train a cat but it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to try to train your cat the same way you would train your dog. You won't get the same degree of obedience and response to your commands.

However sociable cats that like to receive human attention are easier to train. If you are patient and have a good sense of humour along with the right training equipment and tasty cat treats, it will be possible to achieve results.

Starting cat training is very similar to raising a very young child. You don't expect kids to immediately know how to tie their shoes, but you praise them for finding their shoes, for wearing them. Then gradually, you advance to the next steps until the lacing. Education can only be successful if your cat is rewarded even if the results.

3 reasons why cats are harder to train than dogs

It is well known that training a dog is much easier than training a cat. Yet these two animals have similar intelligence and learning mechanisms, such as positive reinforcement.

The cat’s domestication came later than the dog’s one

We know that the cat rubbed shoulders with humans several thousand years ago, that is, long before the Egyptians worshiped them. However, it is difficult to estimate precisely when the Felis silvestris (Common Wildcat) was domesticated.

For the dog, the story is simpler. We know that its domestication dates back several thousand years. The dog's ancestor approached humans in order to feed on their remains. A proximity was then established and made it possible to create a relationship between the two species.

Cats can't assist humans in the way dogs can

Everybody knows that cats are very independent and sometimes even wild. These behaviours come from their late domestication and more precisely, from the reason why they were domesticated.

While the dog had been assigned many roles in our human daily life (hunter, shepherd, guardian, etc.), the cat only had one role: to hunt rodents to protect their seed reserves.

This difference explains why the dog quickly became close to humans, unlike the cat. While hunting rodents, cats had never really needed to be close to humans. He remained independent and this behaviour seems to continue over time.

It’s difficult to train a cat but not impossible

Cats have adapted enormously to humans. They have followed our rhythm of life and managed to find their marks, even in an apartment, an environment very different from its wildlife.

However, if you really want to teach a few tricks to your cat, you will have to convince your feline friend that it is way more interesting than going bird watching or taking a nap. For that, you have to use rewards (like treats) to congratulate him as soon as he does what you expect him to do.

No need to stroke your furry friend as a reward, it does not work with cats!

By training your cat every day using positive reinforcement (no punishment) you can teach him, for example, to answer to his name or to use a cat flap.

However, do not forget that you must educate your feline respecting its natural behaviours (climbing, scratching, hunting, sleeping, etc.) and its desire to participate in this activity.

Also remember that depending on your cat's temperament, it will be more or less easy to teach him a few tricks. Although some "cat-dogs" are capable of learning a lot, most felines prefer to live a life without constraints.

Frequently asked questions

Is owning a cat easier than a dog?

Are cats loyal?

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