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How to Teach a Cat its Name (5 Easy Steps)

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You’ve just picked the perfect name for your kitty and can’t wait to use it. There’s just one problem: the cat doesn’t know it yet. Follow this simple guide to learn how to teach a cat its name!

how to teach a cat its name: cartoon cat with a name tag

Steps to Teach Your Cat Its Name:

  1. Get some treats that your cat loves.
  2. Go to an environment without distractions so your cat can concentrate.
  3. Say your cat’s name clearly, in a happy tone, and hand out a treat when they look at you. (You can also step back and get them to step toward you after saying their name.)
  4. Repeat this process several times, and soon, your cat will associate their name with a positive experience.
  5. Follow this same routine for 2-3 weeks to ensure your cat learns to respond to their name consistently.

Do Cats Understand Their Names?

Yes, they really do understand when you’re using their name (once they’re properly trained). Whether they decide to listen to you is an entirely different matter!

A group of researchers from the University of Tokyo tested the recognition skills of 78 cats using similar words, including their names, and found they did react to their names even when used by a stranger. This may not mean they understand the concept of a name as much as they’ve associated the sound with something positive coming their way.

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Learn Its Name?

Teaching a cat its name can take one week to a few months. It’s best to stick with the process, realizing that it goes much faster with positive reinforcement such as treats.

Using Positive Reinforcement

Unlike dogs, who are pack animals – looking to please, cats need additional motivation to respond to training. Positive reinforcement with food & treats is the key to cat name recognition.

cat getting a treat

Bonus Tips

Next Steps

Once you have this routine down, you can start to vary the location and distance from your cat while using their name to see if they continue the behavior. If they haven’t mastered it, return to your initial training.

Stay Positive

You’ll want to avoid overusing their name and only use it positively. If you need to scold your cat, try saying a strong “No” and not using their name. It would be best if you only used their name for good things like giving out treats or affectionate petting when they come to you.

Don’t Overuse Their Name

Remember that you shouldn’t use your cat’s name so casually that it becomes background noise. Always make sure you have a reason to say it.

Use a Short, Simple Name

Even if you picked a fun long name for your cat, like one of these punny cat names, you’d want to use a short version of that name when training. Your cat will have difficulty learning to respond to Leopardo DiCatrio, so it’s best to stick with Leo for now. =)

Involve Others

If you live with family or roommates, have them also do these steps. Again, it’s helpful if everyone uses the same name and structure for teaching it to your cat.

Treat Ideas

You’ll want to find something your cat loves for training to be super effective. You’ll also want to ensure they’re hungry; this may be less effective after a big meal. Every cat has different favorites, such as cheese, tuna, or some cat treats you can buy online or at the pet store.

Eventually, you can move away from only using food and instead offer some play with a toy like a feather, a laser pointer, or just a good petting/scratching if they enjoy it.

What If My Cat Won’t Listen?

Some cats are more stubborn than others, and you may find that your cat isn’t very interested until you discover something they love. Training can sometimes take extra patience, especially if you don’t have a young cat. It’s also possible that your cat is deaf if they don’t seem to respond to any noise. You can have your vet check them out.

So, in summary, remember to repeat your cat’s name continually and provide positive reinforcement. This is the best method how to teach a cat its name. Follow these simple tips, and your cat will respond to their name regularly before you know it!

How to Name a Cat

Here are a few quick tips to pick the right name for your cat:

  • If you chose a longer name, have a short alternative name available
  • Pick a name you don’t mind saying out loud to friends and family.
  • Try our easy-to-use cat name finder to discover all the best cat names and keep a list of your favorites.

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