Given cats’ intelligence and independence, training them may seem like, well, trying to herd cats. Yet these same traits also make them willing to be trained … if you do it the right way.

Working with your cat’s natural instincts, you can train them to fetch, give you a high-five, stop using your leather sofa for a scratching post, become a famous piano-playing meme and much more. Whatever you’re hoping to accomplish, there are some important lessons to keep in mind. Ring the bell: School is now in session.

Five Tips for Training Your Cat

1. Treats Are Key

Cats are more eager to learn if they know there’s a tasty treat for them. Use your cat’s favorite flavor of as an incentive or reward to keep them coming back for more lessons.

2. A Clicker Makes Training a Snap

These inexpensive training tools are found at most pet-supply stores. A simple click-click becomes a quick, consistent reminder to your cat that they’re truly the teacher’s pet. (Make sure to quickly follow up the clicking with a treat!)

3. Break Down Lessons into Small Steps

Cats have good memories, but short attention spans. Break down a training activity into simple steps and build from there. If your cat gets bored, let them have recess before the next class.

4. Accentuate the Positive

We all love positive reinforcement! If your cat is behaving badly, ignore it. Yelling at them is still a form of attention, so they’ll take it over nothing. But when their performance is an A+, lavish them with treats, loving pats, kind words and maybe a college scholarship. Who’s a good kitty?

5. Start Early

Cats are creatures of routine, so it’s harder to teach an old cat new tricks. Young kitties are much more likely to be your star students.

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