Category: training cats

British shorthair cat plys with feather toy

Brain training for older cats

Charlie ShortTail

Changes to your cat’s brain as they get older

As your older or senior cat ages changes take place in the brain:

  • Cats lose cells in the brain just as people do as they get older
  • Our feline friends can have memory problems and in some cases may get confused as they become more elderly
  • Learning takes longer but can still be achieved – again just as in older people

What can you do to help keep your older cat’s brain active and healthy?

Brain training for older cats involves keeping your cat free from boredom, stress and maintaining a good bond with your cat.

  • Older cats like a routine, it reassures them – for example, it can help to carry out play activities at the same times each day.
  • Give your cat a healthy diet and consider foods specifically formulated for older, senior cats and which contain antioxidants. Foods for older cats are also easier to eat and digest.
  • Continue to play with your cat, but shorter 5-minute sessions are probably long enough. Include two to three play sessions per day. If you can keep to the same times every day.
  • Introduce new toys to keep your cat interested. It is important to stimulate your cat’s brain with new experiences. Cats love bags and boxes of all sizes.ginger and white cat plays in a brown paper bag
  • Grooming your cat can give your older cat a feeling of wellbeing as you stimulate a part of their brain. Grooming also helps to maintain a great bond between you and your pet, as well as helping to keep your cat’s coat free from knots and loose fur.
  • Talk to your pet in a nice soft voice this can help to make your cat feel reassured and safe – important for older cats. The happier your cat the more likely they are to play and eat well.
  • Keep food and water in the same place so your cat does not become confused. Help your cat’s memory by keeping the same location. Stress is bad for your cat’s brain.
  • If your cat has access to outside areas encourage him or her to accompany you when you do jobs, such as gardening or hanging out washing. Your cat can get stimulus, maintain a regular mental map of where and how to get to different areas. Fresh air is also good for your cat.
  • If your cat has a covered outdoor area provide a scratching post, toys and a tower or raised area, as well as somewhere to hideaway.
  • Keep your cat interested – boredom is bad for the brain.
  • Toys – rods with feathers, ribbons or furry bits dangling can be ideal. Move the stick slowly to stimulate your cat to chase the pretend prey. Do not touch your cat with the stick –  prey would not naturally approach your cat! Mimicking prey with a wiggling, slow movement can encourage your cat to stalk, pounce and chase the pretend prey. Great for the brain as well as useful physical exercise. Remember to let your cat catch the prey sometimes or he or she will just get frustrated.
  • Interactive play toys work really well but you can also use online cat TV of birds, mice and other wildlife. You should offer a play session along with this so the cat does not feel frustration at not being able to find or catch prey on screen.
  • Ball and toys to bat around are also great for your cat. Toys with added catnip may also help to stimulate and white cats plays with toy mouse
  • Puzzle feeders can be great as they provide a challenge with a nice reward. You could make your own using a small cardboard box with holes cut out.

How do cats learn?

Cats originally learn by watching and observing their mothers and they can learn from you too. This requires patience and especially so in older, senior cats. Remember cats do not learn in the same way as dogs, although food rewards still work well. Be consistent, never shout or raise your voice at your cat this will only cause your cat stress and may result in fear or aggression. The key is repetition – repeat an exercise several times a day, keeping the sessions no more than a few minutes long. Only try to teach your cat when they show interest in what you are doing; always reward success with a food treat. Be patient at all times.

You may also like:

Test your cat

Very Clever Cats

Brain facts

  • Messages move through your cats brain super quickly
  • There are 300 million neurons in your cat’s brain (dogs have 160 million)
  • The cat’s brain needs 20% of the blood pumped from the heart – the brain needs a lot of energy
  • Our cats have great observation skills – try moving a ball between paper cups and see who wins!
  • Our felines have a well developed long term memories.
  • The brain is just less than 1% of the cat’s body mass, in humans, it is just over 2%.

Cats are clever and have superior brains

Cats can:

  • remember mind maps of quite large territories
  • can understand and predict the behaviour of other animals
  • know, learn and remember new skills and have great physical dexterity and can use fine motor skills to control the muscles in their paws. They use the paws to discover, manipulate and hunt as well as show affection.ginger and tabby cat cuddling up in bed
  • Have learnt to interact using their voice with humans.
  • Can solve problems such as opening doors and cupboards, windows and latches.
  • Can learn through observation.
  • A cat can understand pointing gestures, such as showing where food is.
  • Understand mechanics – movement and forces.

What does an elderly cat need?

  • A good diet
  • Company and love
  • A calm and secure environment
  • Freedom from paintabby cat

Older cats can suffer from:

  • Deafness
  • Memory problems
  • Arthritis and stiff joints

However, with love and care cats can live happily to a long age.

Memory and other problems in older cats and some simple solutions

  • If your cat appears to forget or cannot find the litter tray – keep the litter tray in the same location and put an additional tray near where your cat sleeps. Also, remember that each cat should have its own litter tray. If your cat has joint problems or reduced mobility make sure the litter tray has shallow sides so the cat does not need to jump. If your cat is prowling around looking as though he or she needs a wee gently guide your cat to the litter tray. Make sure the litter tray is not too far away or too hidden for your cat to find. Check your cat does not have any urinary problems common in elderly and senior cats.

To read more about the care of older cats you may like:

What to expect as your cat gets older

Dementia in older cats, symptoms, care and treatment

Charlie says:

the big meow by Charlie Shorttail

  • Older cats make loyal and loving companions.
  • Senior cats are often best suited to quieter homes.
  • Elderly cats may prefer to be an only pet.
  • Always take your cat for regular check-ups at the vets so any problems can be picked up early on.


read more
Persian cat

Can cats learn a new name?

Charlie ShortTail

Can your cat learn a new name?

Cats can be taught and learn a new name with simple and quick training. Some cats learn a new name quickly, whilst others may take a couple of weeks to respond to their new name. It is important for your cat to learn its new name so that you can call the cat in for feeding or for bedtime. If you are worried about the weather or other circumstances (fireworks, loose dogs for instance) it is very helpful for your cat’s safety that you can call your cat home.

How to teach your cat a new name

  • Make sure everyone uses the same name when talking to your cat. Do not use variations or nicknames as this could confuse the cat.
  • Say the name when you are petting or grooming your cat in a nice reassuring voice.
  • When your cat is looking at you call the name and offer a treat and keep doing this over several days or longer if the cat needs it.
  • Always reward the cat when he or she responds to the new name.
  • When you feed the cat repeat the name several times.
  • When the cat sits with you repeat their name whilst stroking your cat.
  • Start increasing the distance from where you call your cat and reward the cat when she or he comes to you.
  • Make sure that you only call your cat for positive things (not for going to the vets or taking medication or having flea treatment applied). The cat needs to know that nothing scary will happen when he or she is called, only good things.
  • Build up to calling your cat from different rooms and then from outside if your cat has access to the outdoors.
  • Do not try to train your cat if the cat is playing or sleeping as they will not be ready to respond to you.
  • Do not try long training sessions, keep it short.

cat is hand fed a treat

Cats have good memories and with repeated short training will quickly pick up their new name. Some cats learn super quickly and others take a bit longer – just like people vary in their ability to learn.


As your cat gets better at responding to his or her new name cut back the treats and reward your cat when they respond or return to you quickly. This will reinforce a quick comeback from your cat.

Teaching a new kitten their name

Kittens will take longer to learn their name than adult cats as their brain is still developing.
Use the same techniques as above but keep the sessions very short. Repeat the sessions several times a day, every day.
Remember to reward the kitten for looking at you to start with and then coming towards you and then progress to longer distances.

black and white cat laying on the ground
Charlie says:

Charlie says

Cats have a great capacity to learn and remember but us cats concentrate on what is important to us. Rewards will give your cat a reason to learn a new name or skill. Positive reinforcement is the best tool for learning.

You may also like:

Why are cats called cats?

Do cats see in colour?

read more
charlie shorttail ginger cat meowing

The big meow – hello

Charlie ShortTail

The big meow with Charlie ShortTail

Hi I’m Charlie ShortTail and I have a lot to say.

Welcome to the big meow  – this is where I get the chance to speak. Although Mama would say I never stop!

I talk to my furriends on twitter and sometimes use my banana phone for private cat chats… He He.

Lando my big brofur, is a connoisseur (cat who knows a lot about certain stuff) on banana toys, and in fact cat nip toys in general.

 He likes to give all toys a good product testing, including biting, kicking, slobbering and a general good beating up.

I’m a little more relaxed with my toys and life in general. Sleeping is a speciality mine, I love to nap and chill out in my bed.

I like to write about my adventures and fun times in a bit more detail sometimes ; such as my awful experience with tar.

Charlie and the awful tar episode


Cats are amazing, we are cuddly, fun and have so many talents. These are a few of my favourite cat facts:

Us cats can make over 100 sounds and dogs only about 10… Oh dear!

laughing-cat Cats laugh!

I can run faster than Usian Bolt ( but only when I feel like it).


People who own cats live longer and are less likely to die of a heart attack and stroke.


My purrs are healing…


There are lots of posts about looking after your cat – diet , fleas, first aid and how to look after us as we get older. Read about the amazing skills and powers we cats have. Test your cat – how clever is your furry friend? Find out about all the different and gorgeous breeds of cat and their personalities too. There is also a ‘why does my cat?’ section with some very interesting questions answered.

I hope you enjoy reading…


Charlie ShortTail
read more

Very Clever Cats

Charlie ShortTail

Clever Cats -how brainy is your cat?

Very Clever Cats can:

Sit, stand or roll over on command.

ginger cat sitting up on back legs

Meow or make a noise on command.

meowing tabby cat

Use the human toilet instead of a litter tray.

Can balance on their back legs for 5 seconds or more.


Can walk on their back legs for a short distance.


Is your cat really clever?


This is a good read….

charlie shorttail ginger cat meowing

Charlie ShortTail says “I’m not very, very, very clever cat… but I am loyal and cuddly”.

If you would like to train your cat or kitten there are some very useful and informative books written that can give a much better understanding of how to train your cat to follow commands, use a toilet and learn tricks. Test your cat’s IQ with a series of simple games.


read more

More facts about your cat

Charlie ShortTail

15 More Amazing Facts about your Cat

Amazing cat facts:

white and grey cat lifting paw up


  1. A cat’s average body temperature is 38.6°c (which is why they always find the warmest place).

2. There are over 100 breeds of cat.


Read more….Cat breeds from around the world – Great Britain


3. Cats scratch to mark their territory – they have sweat glands between the paw pads and they secrete a scent which is passed on by the scratching action.

cats paw hi five

4. Cats can problem solve (knocking something over to get what is inside).

5. Cats have very good memories (but tend to use it for what is important to them). Cats have better long-term memories than dogs.

older russian blue cat face

6. Cats have homing ability, a built in navigation system similar to birds. Cats are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field.


7. Cats can learn tricks such as sit, eat with paws, roll over, fetch, Hi five; however you will need lots of patience.

white cat with heart

Read more…. Very Clever Cats

Read more…    Test your cat

8. In deep sleep your cat’s brain is as active as when it is awake.

9. Cats have binocular vision- three dimensional sight for hunting.

10. Cats can distinguish between colours.

11. If your cat followed its mother around on hunting trips it is more likely to want to go for walks with you.

white cat walks along path

12. White cats with blue eyes are often deaf.

white kitten with blue eyes

13. Cats can turn their ears 180°. They can also move their ears independently.

Hearing is your cats strongest sense.

tabby cat listens

14. Cats have 32 teeth, 16 on the top and 14 on the bottom.

cats teeth and mouth

15. Cats cannot move their jaws sideways; therefore cats do not chew.

three maine coon cats

read more

Test your cat

Charlie ShortTail

How clever is your cat?


Charlie says never underestimate your cat.

Charlie can run faster than Usain Bolt!

Charlie says: ” Try this quick test with your cat”.

  1. Place a piece of wool or string on your cat’s back.

Cat moves fur – 1 mark

Cat removes string by many method – 2 marks

    2. Place a feather 2-4″ in front of your cat (4-8cm).

Cat touches feather with nose or paw, chews feather – 1 mark

Picks it up with paws – 2 marks

   3. On the floor move a pencil slowly towards your cat.

Cat touches pencil with paws – 1 mark

Cat touches the pencil with same paw more than once – 2 marks

  4. Stroke your cat around the mouth.

Cat closes eyes or shakes head – 1 mark

Cat licks the mouth  -2 marks

5. Touch your cat gently on her/ his back

Cat shakes or ripples the fur – 1 mark

Cat licks the spot touched – 2 marks

cats paw hi five
hi five!

The scores:

very clever = 8-10

quite clever 6-7

average 4-5

lazy 0-3

read more