Methods and Techniques
You can train a kitten/cat to do almost anything you want it to do, just like a dog. The only difference is it takes much more time, and it must always be done at the cats/kittens convenience, not yours. This means if they are not up for it then don’t force them. Take time, lots of treats, lots of positive reinforcement, and loving soothing sounds/words. Never be forceful, loud, mean, or show any signs of being upset or aggressive with them for they will do just the opposite of what you are wanting then. Not only can you teach them to do tricks but you can also teach them behaviours like being a lap cat, being held, walking on a leash, and be more socialable. Here are a few examples.
Start by sitting on the floor playing gently with a toy (never use your hands as a toy) with your kitten. Gradually move the toy towards your lap, if your kitten goes into your lap make sure to praise her/him, gently stroke her/him and feed her/him a treat. Keep repeating this till when you sit on the floor they just run and jump in your lap. Also make sure you use a sound, a word or gesture to associate with them in your lap. Over time they will then know what that means and come running you, knowing they will be loved.
First start off with placing the harness on them, they will hate it but make sure to give them a treat, positive gentle strokes, and loving words. Only leave it on for about 5 minutes. You can do this several times a day or once a day, but increase the time you leave the harness on them. Eventually you could leave it on all the time if you wanted. (We prefer not to leave the harness/collar on our cats unless we are going on a walk with them. This way they know what to expect when the harness is put on them). Once they are used to the harness, attach the leash and allow them to pull it around with them, make sure you are always there to watch so it does not get tangled up in something. After a few days of this, pick up the leash and allow them to go where they want, with you following them. Slowly begin to place tension on the leash guiding them to where you want to go, always with kind & loving praise, and give your cat a treat when they follow you. After a while they are ready to go on their first outdoor walk. We always find a very quiet place where it’s just us, the cat and nature. Again it’s a slow daily routine. After a while they will begin to look forward to their outdoor excursions. Eventually you can introduce them to more busy environments if you choose to.
If you want your cat/kitten to be more social with strangers that come into your house, you need to start slowly and quietly introducing a new person to them on a daily basis or at least weekly. Be sure to only introduce one person at a time, and do not do this till they have fully accepted you and your family members. Once they have bonded with you, invite a friend over to meet your new kitten. Find a quiet room that your kitten feels comfortable in, a perch would be nice for them to feel safer in higher spots. But if you don’t have one then ask your friend to sit on the floor, the trick here is you want to be at their level. Cats see you as giants when you stand over them so when you get down to their level they feel less of a threat. Make sure to tell your friend before entering the room not to try to approach the kitten, and to make no fast movements, loud noises or sounds. Once your friend is sitting on the floor, sit next to your friend on the floor and begin to call/coax your kitten to you either with treats or toys. Once they are in your lap gently stroke them and hold them firmly but gently. At this point your friend can then start talking with you and the cat and SLOWLY reach toward the cat. If it does not move back then allow your friend to stroke your kitten in a very calm gentle manor. Once you feel your kitten is accepting this and actually likes this attention then release your hold on the cat and let your friend start playing with your kitten with a toy or just petting him/her. Repeat above if your cat runs away when you release it, by using lots of loving words and treats if needed. Remember cats learn by repetition so make sure you do this daily or as often as you can with different people. After a while your cat will no longer run and hide when a stranger comes into your home. However if someone comes in fast and loud, your cat will most likely go hide where they feel safe. That is why if you have a party do not expect your cat to be seen anywhere close by. They most likely are hiding in a closet or some other dark place.
As you can see it's all about repetition, praise, gentleness, and treats (lessen the treats as they learn). With this little bit of knowledge you can train your cat to sit, roll over, play dead or anything else! The biggest part of it is not training your cat, but training yourself to have lots of patients.
Here are some tips to make a smooth transition for your kitten to your family, and to help your kitten bond with you. Checkout the full list of guides on our website.