Cats are amazing, unique and intelligent animals. Any cat lover knows this instinctively and believes they have a wonderful connection and understanding of their kitty. It comes as a surprise to many when their adorable cat misbehaves by clawing furniture, being antisocial, refusing to use the kitty litter and so on. We ask ourselves why and wonder why normal animal training techniques do not work. While there are many reasons of all of these things one of the core concepts you need to know when you have cat training problems is how to really communicate with your feline.
Cats communicate in four ways:
The first and easiest way to communicate with you cat is to understand their visual cues. While there are more obvious cues like wagging tail when annoyed and the ears going back when scared or angry there are other more subtle cues. For instance did you know that when you make eye contact with a cat if you lower your eyes and squint slightly it is a sign of acknowledgement and affection to a cat? Or that if their whiskers are flared it means they are alert. There are many cues a cat gives to use that we need to learn and can replicate back at them and they will understand.
The noises a cat makes also give us clues to know what they are thinking. The obvious signs are purring when happy and hissing or growling when annoyed. There are many other sounds cats make that we can learn however like the loud meow which is usually for attention, the sigh (much like a humans) when contented and the chatter which is issued usually when a cat is stalking prey they cannot get ( a bird on the other side of a window). The tone and pitch of these various sounds mean different things and being clued up to the nuances can tell you if a cat just wants attention or if it is stressed or many other things.
Cats love to be touched and petted as long as it does not become painful and petting an affectionate cat has been proven to lower blood pressure and be good for us. How a cat touches you can mean things too; when rubbing the sides of its face against you it is marking you with a scent claiming you as their own, this is a true sign of affection. If a cat lets you rub their belly it is also a sign of trust as it is their most exposed weakest area when in a fight so letting you near it is very intimate. Cats also use their bodies to trip you which may be annoying but it is an attention getting device more than a pure show of affection. Knowing how your cat uses their body to communicate and how you should hold, pet and touch your pet is of vital importance to training them.
This is something we as humans cannot really tap into. Cats have a heightened sense of smell that allows them to see more than we can in that realm. They can sense things by smell we cannot and may react to something they smell when we cannot making them seem erratic. They can also smell when we are stressed or angry by our smell (along with body language and so on) so it can work both ways. Be aware your cat can smell better than you and that this may trigger something you cannot see.
All in all if you have cat training problems you must go back to square one with cat understanding before you can move on to more complex problems like getting them to use the kitty litter or stop scratching furniture. Once you have this understanding you will see many mistakes before you make them and adjust your action for a better behaved and happier cat!