Train that Cat!

Trained cat

Why is it that nobody thinks to train their cat?

We all agree that dogs should come when they are called and we train them by rewarding them with something nice to eat when they do. Why not cats? It's particularly useful if you want your cat to come in when you close the cat flap at night to keep him safe. It’s also handy if he has hidden away somewhere in the house (and when cats hide, they usually hide very successfully).
I live in the countryside and my cat comes and goes through the cat flap. When I want him at night I go out and call him. I admit he doesn’t exactly race back within seconds, but he does come within about five minutes. Then when he comes back through the cat flap or the front door (if I am holding it open for him) I reward him with a small treat or I open a new envelope of food.  Simple stuff, but people seldom do this in a systematic way.
When I had two cats, I had two calls one which was high up on one note, and a lower one on two notes – so that if they were far away they could hear the tone of the call not just the words. They knew which was which call was for which cat.
Does my cat come when he is right in the middle of stalking a mouse? No he doesn’t – neither do many dogs. The hunting is just too exciting to stop. But he comes eventually and I reward every so often with something extra special and unusual like a prawn to keep up a good feline recall!
Celia Haddon
APBC Student Member

Celia Haddon is studying for a degree in applied animal behaviour, has written several books about cats, and spent 12 years answering readers’ queries about cat behaviour for The Daily Telegraph. For more information visit her website at