How can I get my cat to respond to her name?

CatChannel behavior expert, Marilyn Krieger, CCBC,explains how to train a cat to come when called.

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Q: My cat is 2½ years old.  She does not respond to her name, Jada.  Is there something I can do to get her to respond?
 
A: This is a great first question to start with. It is an excellent idea to teach cats to come when called by name. There are situations such as cat escapes, emergencies or transport where it’s imperative that cats immediately go to their human companions when called.

Jada, like most cats can be trained to come when called. The trick is first finding something Jada is motivated by. Food is the best motivator for most cats. Start off by saying Jada’s name when feeding her. As you put the food down for her, repeat her name a couple of times.

Between meals carry taste-enticing snacks for her. When Jada is hanging out near you, get her attention, then say her name as you simultaneously give her a treat. After she makes the connection between her name and the treat, call her name and place the treat next to you so that she has to move toward you to receive her reward.

Gradually increase the distance between you and Jada, calling her and then rewarding her when she comes to you.

Eventually call her from another room, rewarding her with a treat and lots of praise when she comes to you. Keep the sessions short, but have multiple sessions every day. If she doesn’t respond when you call her, don’t get frustrated or punish her. Wait a couple of hours and try it again. It should be fun for her, and she is on her own schedule, not yours. Cats are very intelligent, and given the proper motivation can be taught all sorts of things including responding to their names.

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Reader Comments

Jeff    Dahlonega, GA

8/17/2014 10:55:01 AM

...they may know their names, but do they know their memes?

Terry    Richlands, VA

1/24/2013 7:40:46 AM

When my cats were kittens. I would say their name while petting them. Now they both come running when I call their name. So you should start teaching them their name when they are still kittens.

Lexi    Hutchinson, KS

4/19/2009 11:21:49 PM

Apparently, my cat has learned to come to the command, "Hey, you." Also, he tends to saunter over if I point at him. I don't know if he's smart or if he's expecting something of me, because I've never rewarded him for it.

Want    Shirt, SK

3/29/2009 3:10:19 PM

My cats just come when I call. I haven't had to give them a treat or train them.

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