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.
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.
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.
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