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Sunday, November 29, 2009

how to get your cat to come when called

Cats are rather different from dogs in that they don't really listen to commands as well, obeying only when they want to. They see themselves as the alphas and not as being owned. My last dog - when she was called she could come bounding from the end of the street (ten houses away) towards my house. Same thing when my dad horns his car horn. When Slinky was a street cat and I came home to let her into my house she would bound to me at times when called, but if she was preoccupied I had to hunt her down and call her.

Regardless, Andy is amazed when I manage to get Sayang to come when I call her. He tries to mimic me but it doesn't work when he calls instead. He has to use other means to get the cats to come to him for cuddles.


My method:
I call Sayang, look at her, and then blink and look away. If I am on the bed I will tap the bed for her to jump on next to me. She will come to me after I blink and look away.

Cats see blinking-looking-away as a sign of affection. Staring at them makes them uncomfortable - good tactic to use when scolding them, maintain stern eye contact when disciplining them.

Andy's method:
We put our cat treats in a metal box (once a chocolate box of sorts). When Andy taps the box,the cats will know it is treat time and come to him. He may or may not dispense the treat. They will still come anyway.

They are triggered by the sound of the box, so it is somewhat a Pavlov's dog way of conditioning their response. Slinky is a bit shy to admit she is greedy so she merely comes somewhat nearer but does not bound towards Andy like Sayang and Scooter do. You can do the same also with their favourite noise-making toy.


In general, cats that look like they want to be called will usually be awake, looking bored or walking around with their tail up - sign that they want attention. Trying to call a sleeping cat to you may not work. Likewise a cat preoccupied with a toy or insect or eating halfway.

Also, try using a higher pitched voice, ending their name with a higher intonation. Cats and dogs hear things on a higher octave so getting their attention with a high-pitched sing-song voice will be easier.

Cats learn their name better slightly towards older kittenhood. If your kitten doesn't recognise her name yet, use it often, like when she's being fed her meals. Have fun calling your cat!

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