Teaching Your Cat to Respond to His Name
This is actually a very important behavior to teach. When you need to locate your cat before you leave the house or you need to get your cat away from something dangerous, being able to depend on her to come when called can be a lifesaver. I have three rules about Teaching Your Cat to Respond to His Name . They are:
Rule #1: Pick an easy name for your kitten to recognize. Long names such as “Cinderella’s Prince Charming, Frederick the Fabulous” aren’t a good idea. I didn’t make that name up. I know a cat with that name and he wouldn’t answer when called. It wasn’t until his owner started referring to him as “Fred” that he began to respond to her when she called.
Rule #2: Don’t use ten different nicknames for your kitten and expect her to respond to them. Stick to one name so she learns to make the association.
Rule #3: Never call your kitty’s name in anger. If you call her by her name and then proceed to punish her when she comes, she’ll never want to come to you again. Begin teaching your cat to associate positive things with her name. While you’re petting her, repeat her name over and over in a soothing, quiet, friendly voice. As you’re preparing dinner, call her name. Hand-feed her a little before you fill her bowl. Say her name repeatedly as you give her a kibble.
After a few repetitions of this exercise, put her food in the bowl and let her eat. Don’t overdo the sessions. Keep them short and positive. In between meals, take a few pieces of broken up treats and practice calling her name multiple times a day. When she comes, give her a treat. If you are clicker training, you can add the verbal cue of “come” after saying her name. Click as soon as she comes to you and then immediately offer the treat. Work up to calling her from another room.
Once she has learned her name you can offer treats intermittently, but always offer praise when she has responded. Even when you are no longer giving food rewards for coming when called, she should always know that something good awaits her. Once kitty has learned to respond to her name, don’t forget Rule #3. Never call her in anger. It can be easy to abuse that rule if you come across something she has damaged or a urine spot on the carpet. Resist the urge to call her to you for punishment. The price you’ll pay for potentially damaging the trust bond between the two of you won’t be worth it. Punishment is counterproductive and inhumane anyway.