What do you do when you want to feed the cat and the cat is nowhere to be found? You can train your cat to come when you call him. I have read that this only works with clicker training. However, we trained our cat to come when called, and we didn’t use clicker training.
Our method worked without fail.
Maybe we had an obedient cat. I think it was more likely because he associated the call with receiving food. He was not the least bit obedient!
Food was the motivating factor. Let’s face it we call out for the kids and everyone else when dinner is ready, so I guess it is just an extension of this motivation.
There was nothing complicated about it. This cat has now gone to join other deceased kitties in kitty afterlife land. Often, it feels like he is still lounging around in his favorite spot.
Some Background Information
Once a week, I buy a takeaway, cooked (rotisserie) chicken. It is useful for sandwiches and for the hungry hoards that continually check the fridge for food, just in case some food has miraculously appeared.
The cat could smell this chicken as soon as I unpacked the groceries. He would be right there waiting and meowing, stretching and elongating his body upwards towards the kitchen bench to get to the chicken.
I always give him a small amount of chicken, after checking obsessively for any small bones. I must have been successful in this regard as there was never an issue with bones.
Sometimes the cat would not be around or nearby when I got home.
This started the practice of going to the backdoor and calling out Kitty-Chicken quite loudly and with a high-pitched tone. I guess all the neighbors also knew that the cat was going to have some chicken.
The cat quickly associated this call with the divine, yummy chicken, and he would appear in a frantic rush for his treat.
We had sort of created a routine of how to call a cat back home, without even meaning to do that. We used the call Kitty-Chicken or Kitty-Dinner, and the cat would come running.
I’m not suggesting he knew the difference between the words “chicken” and “dinner,” but it was more the tone of voice used. Also, the fact that we only used this call for food meant that, for the cat, it was in his best interest to come and see what food offering was waiting.
As he grew older, we noticed that this didn’t work as well as it used to. He still liked the rotisserie chicken just as much, but no longer came trotting along as he always had.
The cat’s hearing was fading around this time. To overcome this issue, we used a stainless steel teaspoon and banged it against the side of his food bowl, which also happened to be stainless steel. As you can imagine, this did ramp up the sound associated with the call. Think acoustic guitar compared to electric guitar.
This did work and the cat could still get up a bit of a jog where food was concerned.
As he became elderly, he was always close by, but even so, I then had to walk around with the bowl, banging on the side with a spoon, instead of my usual standing place at the back door. Am I turning into a crazy cat lady?
Why Did We Have Success?
- We had success because the routine was not complicated in any way.
- The routine was consistent.
- The reward was always the same.
- We were able to make slight modifications as he became older to accommodate his hearing loss and loss of agility and fluid movement.
The key is to make sure the signal is unique and easy for the cat to recognize.
Additional suggestions that you could use
Use a whistle.
Stomp on the floor or ground (this may help hearing impaired cats as they can respond to the vibrations).
Shake a box of their favorite treats or biscuits.
A Summary Of The Routine We used
How To Call A Cat Back Home
- Preparation of the food treat. This will depend on your situation. For our cat, it began with rotisserie chicken as a treat but eventually extended to dinner time.
- Calling out for the cat – Kitty-Chicken, and then later Kitty-Dinner, called our cat home always. You may want to use the cat’s name or nickname. We often called our cat “kitty,” so he was probably accustomed to that.
- As the cat became older and hard of hearing, we banged a stainless steel teaspoon against the stainless steel bowl containing the treat. This was done simply to increase noise levels.
- As even older age approached, we sometimes had to walk around a little whilst banging the spoon against the food bowl, before the cat could hear us.
These four simple steps worked particularly well for the entirety of the cat’s life.
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