Pet Training is Not Just For Dogs- Your Cat Can Be Trained Too!
Reporter: Noreen Turyn | Videographer: Jemon Haskins
Amherst Co., VA - Most everyone knows when you get a dog you put him through training to make sure you keep a peaceful home. But did you know that your cat can also be trained? In fact, a local animal training expert says cat owners shouldn't even consider it optional.
Miriam Fields-Babineau knows a thing or two about animal behavior. She has degrees in zoology and animal psychology and has written numerous training books that have since been translated into multiple languages.
She says cats yearn to be trained to feed both their mental and physical instincts.
"A lot of people think oh my cat sits on my lap and lets me pet him, that's great interaction. But that's not really enough for a cat. It's not enough to get affection. We all need and education and we all need rewards for doing a good job, and cats are no different," said Fields-Babineau.
She says it can cut back on numerous behavioral issues- those that aren't health related, like tearing up furniture, peeing in the wrong places and aggression.
Cherie Washburn has marks on her arms from a cat.
"This is the first scar Mimi gave me when I was trying to brush her, and I've got a few markings from where she's gotten me," said Washburn.
Washburn spent three years hiding from her husband's cat. It seems Mimi got jealous when Cherie came into the picture.
"She would generally chase after me, swat me, bite me. I couldn't hold her I couldn't pick her up I couldn't pet her. I couldn't sit next to my husband if she was sitting next to my husband, so it was not a very comfortable situation," said Washburn.
Fields-Babineau just happened to witness the tension when she was there working with their dog Molly. When she suggested also training the cat, Washburn didn't believe it.
"I was taken aback because I thought that was something for the movies," said Washburn.
Fields-Babineau says you start with just simple things. "Come, sit up, twirl."
But cat training is definitely different from dog training.
"There's no forcing a kitty," said Fields-Babineau. "They have to make up their own mind. You can't drag them back with a leash, you can't correct them for not listening, they have to make up their own mind that they want to do it."
And they always have to have a food reward. They won't do it for praise or fun. But unlike dogs, once they learn it, they never forget it.
After working together for two months, Mimi and Washburn have bonded and now there's finally peace in the home.
"It's great she'll cuddle with me she'll sleep with me, she'll come and purr next to me which she never used to do," said Washburn.
Fields-Babineau says everyone should do it.
"Otherwise you don't have a relationship with your cat. And they're very interactive creatures; they love their relationships, so if you don't do it you're not being a good cat owner."
Training your cat can be expensive. Fields-Babineau charges $185 for an hour.