Can You Train a Cat? A Must-Read Guide for Owners

Key takeaways

Cats are known for their aloof and independent nature. And it's why we love them, right? However, they're easier to influence than we may have previously thought.

Because of their intelligence, it's actually fairly easy to train a cat! Which is good news for those stressed pet parents out there!

We're going to take a look at what you can train a cat to do, how you should train them, and our expert tips for efficient learning.

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. Can you train a cat?
  3. What can you train a cat to do?
  4. How to train a cat
  5. Tips for training sessions
  6. FAQs
  7. Final thoughts

Can you train a cat?

Yes, you can train a cat! While we may think our independent feline friends have a mind of their own, they can actually be trained to do many different tricks and behave in certain ways.
They're incredibly intelligent animals, like dogs, and with time, patience, and a bit of effort, you can expect your kitty to follow your instructions well.
However, unlike dogs, cats don't necessarily have an instinctual need to please their owners. Hence why they're often considered aloof pets. This means you need to find some kind of reward that they love. Then, they'll do just about anything to get it!
A cat listening to training commands

What can you train a cat to do?

Adult cats and kittens can learn a variety of different tricks and commands. Whether you want funny tricks to impress your friends or genuinely useful behaviors, you'll be able to teach them with enough cat training sessions.

Go outside and come back

Training cats to come back after exploring the great outdoors is an incredibly valuable behavior for both you and your kitty. It will help keep them safe while putting your mind at rest when they are on their solo adventures.
Allowing your cat outside will ensure that they:

Get enough physical stimulation

Develop street smarts

Create a territory around your home

Understand their environment

However, this does take training. It can be dangerous to assume your cat will understand the outside world and know how to find their way back home. Consistent training sessions will ensure your cat learns how and when to return home.
A cat walking back home

Recall training

Recall training refers to using a command, either a word or phrase, that triggers your cat to come to you. This can be incredibly helpful for pet parents. Being able to take control of your cat's behavior can prevent stressful or difficult situations.
Some examples of when this command can be useful include:

Calling your cat for cuddles

Calling your cat for dinner

Stopping your cat from going somewhere they shouldn't

A cat finding their way back home

Leash training

The idea of a cat on a leash may seem ridiculous and near impossible. However, sometimes it can be a great option. For example, if you live in a city and can't give your cat outdoor access, leash training them will mean they can get the mental and physical stimulation they need safely.
This is a much more difficult behavior to learn because being restrained will feel very unnatural to many cats. We would recommend using this training method on young cats and kittens, as adult cats may immediately associate the training with a negative feeling because of the restraint of the leash.

Talk training

This trick is more about impressing your friends, as we can't imagine it being very helpful or practical! Meowing on cue can be a cute and entertaining behavior to teach your kitty, so why not?
But remember, if your cat's training is food motivated, you may have just taught your cat to meow endlessly until they're given a treat, so be cautious!
A cat owner researching how to train a cat

Litter box training

The most important kind of training, especially for young cats, is to learn to go to the toilet in a litter box. This is especially important if you have an indoor-only cat.
Cats that can roam outdoors will generally choose to go to the toilet outside, instead of in litter boxes. This is because kitties are naturally very hygienic, and if their litter tray isn't cleaned regularly, they won't use it.

Sit or stay training

Training your cats to sit or stay can be very useful. Cat owners may find the following situations much easier after their cats have learned this behavior:

Getting them into their cat carrier: All cat owners know how frustrating it can be to try and get your cat into its carrier. However, if your cat will stay still on command, then this will become a lot easier!

Preventing them from running outside: If you own indoor cats, then stopping them from running outside when a door is opened is a constant struggle. Using the stay command can prevent this from happening.

Stop unwanted behavior: This command can be a great distraction if your cat starts acting up, like biting behavior. You can interrupt and stop this with a command and a reward.

A cat sitting instead of running out an open door

How to train a cat

So, now you know that you can train a cat to do just about anything you wish, let's explore how. Each trick will differ in training methods, but there are some general rules that can be applied to most tricks!

Positive reinforcement training

As always, positive reinforcement techniques are essential. This means that you reward good behaviors with a treat or an action that your cat enjoys. Common rewards include:

Cat treats

Dinner time



To make this technique effective, you need to stay consistent. Only reward your cat once they have fully completed a trick or behavior, and try to keep the reward the same. Even a change in treats may confuse your kitty!
Expert Insight: Punishment training does not work. It can cause your cat undue stress and fear and is unlikely to teach your cat the behaviors you wish. In fact, it can often lead to unwanted behaviors because of the trauma caused.
A cat getting a lot of attention and cuddles

To make this technique effective, you need to stay consistent. Only reward your cat once they have fully completed a trick or behavior, and try to keep the reward the same.

Clicker training

Clicker training is a fantastic way to teach your cat new tricks quickly. It's the exact same as positive reinforcement training, but you add in a plastic clicker when they complete a behavior.
This noise can often be more effective than your voice because it is quick and consistent every time. Clicking the device as soon as they complete a behavior and then following the noise with their reward straight away can make the training process simpler by helping your cat adopt new behaviors and tricks more quickly.


Repetition is key when overcoming training challenges! Often, people assume that a few practices are enough for your cat to learn a behavior. But this just simply isn't true!
Repeating a training session is essential. You may have to repeat it multiple times a day for a week or two, or it may take just a couple of days. It depends on your cat, your method, and the trick.
So, pet parents, remain patient!
A cat listening to their owner

Tips for training sessions

To ensure your training is as effective as it can be, there are some tips and tricks that will help you on your way. It can be frustrating if you aren't seeing progress, but there may be a simple solution that you're not yet aware of.


When you start training your cat, you need to make sure they are in a safe and secure environment that has little to no distractions. We all know a new smell, sound, or object can catch our cat's attention for hours, so keeping the environment consistent is key.
For your first training sessions, stay inside and preferably in one room. Choose the room that they feel most confident and comfortable in.
When you want to start training, don't force them into an environment they don't want to be in. Let them follow you naturally. This way, they won't associate training sessions with negative feelings or stress.
A cat sleeping in a peaceful environment

We all know a new smell, sound, or object can catch our cat's attention for hours, so keeping the environment consistent is key.


Cats can become tired or disengaged if you make your training sessions too long. Similarly, if they are too short, they are unlikely to pick up the desired behavior.
The ideal length of time is anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes. This will be enough to learn some fun tricks without overwhelming your kitty.


Choosing a reward should be based on what your cat finds motivating. Every cat is different and has their own unique personalities and quirks.
I've had cats who have loved scrambled eggs and others who wouldn't stop meowing until I gave them a bite of a McDonald's burger. Now, we're not suggesting you reward your cat with McDonalds, but whatever your cat loves makes a good reward!
A cat looking at a lot of food


Are cats easy to train?

Cats are intelligent animals, which means they can be easy to train. With repetition and positive reinforcement, you'll be able to train your cats how to complete specific behaviors and tricks.

How do you teach a cat no?

To teach a cat 'no,' you need to consistently and strongly say the word 'No!' when they exhibit behavior you don't want them to continue. Make sure you use the same tone and stand your ground, but don't use punishments.

Is it possible to train a cat to behave?

Yes, it is possible to train a cat to behave. By using positive reinforcement and having consistent training sessions, you can teach your cat to behave well.

Can a bad cat be trained?

Yes, a bad cat can be trained. There is no such thing as a 'bad cat,' you can always alter their behavior with consistent training, positive reinforcement, and patience!

How to discipline a cat?

To discipline a cat, you need to say the word 'No!'. You should say this in a consistent tone with a strong voice. Never use punishment techniques, as this can cause worse behavior.

What causes bad behavior in cats?

Cats may behave badly if they feel stress or anxiety. This can happen if they don't have a calm environment to live in or if they are neglected.

How do you tell a cat off for biting?

The best way to tell a cat off for biting is just to repeat the word 'No!' in a stern voice. You should also try to distract your cat when they show signs that they're about to bite.

Final thoughts

So, despite the common belief that our furry friends have minds of their own and are impossible to influence, it's actually pretty simple to train them. And if it makes your life as a pet parent easier, then why not give it a go?
Remember, your cat will also enjoy these sessions. It will provide some great mental stimulation that'll keep the boredom at bay!

Written by

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Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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