Why Are Cats Hard To Train?

Why Are Cats Hard To Train

Cats are affectionate and playful animals, but they are also independent and tend to do things on their terms. This is why many people claim that cats are hard to train. However, some cat owners refute this, saying that the desired results can be achieved, based on the cat’s personality and appropriate training methods. 

Why are cats hard to train?

1. They do not recognize hierarchies. 

Cats do not recognize hierarchies and do not see you as their master, so they tend not to respond to directions. They treat humans as big, clumsy cats, while those who form a deep bond with their humans see those humans as their mother cats. Dogs are easier to train because they recognize their owners as their masters. They learn that they will be rewarded if they follow humans’ orders, and punished if they do not. 

2. Cats are reclusive animals. 

Cats are solitary animals despite enjoying human affection. They like the companionship of their owners, but if they do not want to do something they will not do it. Some days they want to sit on your lap, and other days they may just settle on their cat perch and avoid you. This makes them harder to train than dogs, for example, who constantly crave human attention. 

3. Cats are hard to understand if you are not familiar with their body language. 

Cats behave differently compared with dogs. While dogs are expressive and tend to bark or jump when they want something, cats do the reverse. They act cool and will just sit, stare or twitch their tails. This makes cats quite hard to train since you cannot know what they are saying or trying to convey to you.  Get to know your cat’s body language and be observant of their actions, and your training may have a better chance at success. 

4. Cats tend to have shorter attention spans. 

Cats have shorter attention spans than dogs, even if rewarded with treats. Dogs pay attention for longer, while cats will easily grow tired of training.  

5. Cats are naughty by nature. 

Training cats can be daunting because of their mischievous nature. They tend to get bored easily, especially if there is not enough stimulation such as challenging toys to play with. A lack of social interaction can also cause boredom among cats.  

6. Cats react differently to punishment. 

Cats are independent animals, which means they do not seek approval the way a dog might. They, therefore, do not respond well to punishment which, for them, is a threat rather than a consequence of bad behavior. This makes it difficult to train them since they have a hard time associating the punishment with their undesirable actions. 

Things to keep in mind when training a cat

Punishment will not work.

If you are using punishment for training purposes, you are just wasting your time. Yelling, hitting and other means of punishment will not frighten or hurt cats. Instead, it will instill fear in your cat and training will be even less possible. 

Try to bribe her. 

To help speed up your training, try to bribe your cat with some yummy treats that are specially reserved for training sessions. Incorporate clicker training along with the treats for better results.  

Let your cat set the time limit on training sessions. 

Do not force your cat to continue a training session if she clearly does not want to. If she gets distracted by movements or shadows, let her go. If you insist on continuing the training, your cat will only become resistant. 

Redirect the behavior.

If you want your cat to stop a certain behavior, such as biting your hands or scratching furniture, try to redirect the behavior.  Give her a toy to distract her from biting your hand and provide a scratching post where she can satisfy her instinctive urges.

When training your cat, always aim to make it a fun experience. Work at your cat’s pace and be consistent with the sessions. Cats may be hard to train, but it is not impossible. 


Cats are affectionate but independent animals. They tend to do things on their own terms and, although they show devotion to their owners, they will let you know when they want petting and when not. Although they are intelligent and curious, they can be hard to train because of their independence. To be able to train your cat successfully, you will need to familiarize yourself with her body language to help you understand her better, and show up for training sessions with plenty of patience.

Image: istockphoto.com / ablokhin