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Cat Behavior and Can They Be Taught?


Chocolate Point Siamese cat on pedestal

Lily obeying the command to sit and stay.



Normal Cat Behavior


    • Is your cat super smart?

    • Can you train your cat?

    • Or are they even trainable?


Cats Can Learn


But I wonder if they learn by motivation or manipulation.


Over the years, I’ve concluded they are in charge of their own destiny. If it pleases them to do little tricks and the rewards are significant enough today, they will play along with the scheme. Tomorrow could be an entirely different story. Never count on trying to impress friends with your intelligent performing cat. They might do a great job of humiliating your bragging.


A study on how cats respond to social learning.

Cats Did Not Change Their Problem-Solving Behaviours after Human Demonstrations


The study said that cats give little regard to social learning through humans. Whereas the human reaction influenced dogs’ behaviors. Dogs react differently to humans than they do other dogs. Although I don’t have a dog, I’ve seen plenty of dog reactions to their owners and it differs greatly from the way they act to others of their species.


When I leave my house, the cats don’t react. Grateful they’re not in the equation for a visit to the vet. When I return to the house, no excitement unless I’m carrying a hot chicken entrée! Normal reaction. “Oh well, at least you returned in time to get my lunch.” No jumping around, happy to see me. I don’t take it personally. I know how cats react. They make more fuss over my morning appearance, and I’m sure their goal is breakfast.


Cats Motivation


Cats respond to owners much the way they act to another familiar cat in their family.


You can teach dogs tricks and problem solving with social demonstration. Cats can learn a trick. Only if the mood hits them. Problem solving for cats is more done on their own or being taught by their mother. Some cats are relentless problem solvers. What motivates them to problem solve or do tricks is the reward. Doesn’t have to be food.


Cats Respond


Cats, dogs, and babies learn better and respond better to what we refer to as “baby talk”. Babies can differentiate sounds much better at that frequency, so I guess it makes sense animals do as well. Cats recognize their owner’s voice and responds better than to other people.


They can be manipulative if they can gain something of value. Ball search happens a lot at our house. With one of us getting flat on the floor with a flashlight peering under the fridge or dressers for lost balls. Tool of choice is a back scratcher to retrieve the balls. Both cats love this interaction and are right on the floor trying to assist. It is a comical scene to observe.


Lucy has a habit of howling. I will call her and sometimes she comes running. Other times she keeps up the howling until I come running. (I think maybe I’m being trained!)


Cats Understanding Vocabulary


They have many sounds and will respond with varying pitches. Even little quirky meows. I’ve had cats respond to questions by going to the fridge, cupboard, or doors looking for the toy, food, cat, or bird.


They can learn tricks, for treats, only if motivated. I have taught cats to shake-a-paw, play dead, roll over, sit, for a snack. Once had a cat that did 360 degree flips in the air chasing a line pole. It was impressive. She only did it because she loved the chase.


Half my cats loved to play with balls they could pack in their mouth. When asked, “Where’s your ball?” Off they go looking, bringing it back so I could throw it. One cat had a crinkle toy, which we named “Buddy”. When asked where Buddy was, she’d hunt for it.


If you think your cat is smart and capable of many tricks, you may be right. But not a wise idea to invite the neighbors for the show. Today might be the day ‘Fluffy’ isn’t in the mood to perform.




You can teach your cat to sit, shake-a-paw, roll over, fetch, and a few other tricks. I’ve found they will only do it, IF they want. With a dog, they will perform on command. Cats are their own boss. They can master a trick and you believe it will happen every time. NOPE. Not going to happen today!


My love for cats is their calmness. My expectations from them are to use the litter box. Purr when I pet them. Sit on my lap, let me kiss them on the nose, and a few meows when I talk to them. Other than that, everything else I receive from them is delightful as marshmallows in my hot chocolate.





            • Have you taught your cats any tricks?

              Do they cooperate all the time?

              Can you get them to do the trick in front of guests?

              Do you have a special treat for them to perform?


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