According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), at of the end of 2018 there were 94.2 million cats in the United States. In fact, cats outnumber dogs by roughly 4.5 million. That’s a tremendous, gigantic number of kitties. Yet even with almost 100 million cats living among us, there is a disconnect and frankly a misconception about cat’s trainability.
When dog training is mentioned no one really questions whether dogs can be trained. Sure, some dogs for example Basset Hounds, might be harder to teach than others, but no one really doubts whether dogs as a species are trainable.
Alas this is not the same perception when it comes to cats and training. Mention training your cat and people get a strange look. Common comments include; “Can you train a cat? Cats can’t be trained! Cats are too independent to be trained. Cats don’t care about pleasing you like dogs!”
In modern times most everyone can conjure up an image of a noble dog. It could be Lassie who against all odds and ignoring great discomfort or danger to herself comes through to rescue Timmy. One can picture this gorgeous rough coated Collie swimming across rivers, fighting mountain lions, hunger and heat all for the love of her human family. Variations on this plot have been redone countless times for successive generations. Now try picturing this with a cat.
The term “problem behavior” is a loaded one. Much of what we humans consider problematic in our pets is perfectly normal for them. Understanding that might make us feel less judgmental but it doesn’t change our need to modify behaviors we find unappealing, dangerous and unacceptable.