Does your cat dive under the bed whenever the doorbell rings? Or maybe he stands his ground and hisses whenever company comes to visit? Maybe you even have a cat who offers a pre-emptive strike and attempts to immediately sink his teeth into the flesh of anyone who dares enter your home. Here’s a training exercise you can do with your cat to help ease both of these situations.
Set Your Cat up for Success
Do some preliminary work with your cat. Get a fishing pole-type toy and conduct daily interactive play sessions. Do these play sessions in various parts of the home but make sure you do a good number of them in the room where company would normally enter. The more play sessions you do, the more your cat may begin to have positive associations with all rooms in the home.
You can also use clicker training in this situation. Begin by getting your cat comfortable with the process. Once he gets the concept you’ll then be able to click and reward him for any positive steps in the right direction.
First on the list is to get a cat tree. A cat tree serves many functions. It’s a place to climb, play, sleep, and in this case, it becomes a safe place. Cats typically feel more secure in elevated locations and a cat tree serves that purpose plus it has the added bonus of containing the cat’s scent. It’s a location that the cat can claim as only his. The rule is though, when kitty is on his tree, it needs to be off-limits when it comes to people attempting to interact. I know it can be tempting to for someone to go over and pet the cat when he’s conveniently at eye level on a cat tree perch, but he needs to know the cat tree is safe. If you can’t have a cat tree in the room, at least have a window perch or other options for elevated locations.
Cat shelving or walkways will be another way to help your cat navigate around the room and feel safe.
Cat tunnels can also be a helpful addition when it comes to creating security. This way, your cat can feel a little more invisible when he walks into the room. You can purchase soft-sided cat tunnels or you can make your own by taping paper bags together. Covered beds, such as donut or “A” shaped will also be a good additional to the environment. Your cat will be able to get cozy while remaining invisible.
The above suggestions have one very important thing in common: they give the cat a choice. Choice is important when it comes to lowering a cat’s stress level or controlling fear. If your cat feels he has the choice to stay in the room and still feel protected, he’ll probably be more likely to hang around instead of darting from the room.
You’ll need a volunteer for the next part of the training exercise. Ask a friend to visit. The purpose of this visit is to show your cat a visitor to the home is not a threat in any way. Ask your friend to come in and sit down without making any eye contact with your cat. She also shouldn’t touch or interact with the cat in any way. Direct eye contact can be viewed as threat to animals so that’s why it’s important for the visitor to not look at the cat.