The Trainable Cat: Companion Animal Psychology Book Club.

The book for November was The Trainable Cat: How to Make Life Happier for You and Your Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

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The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat is fascinating from start to finish.

It is about how to teach your cat the things that will help him or her to have an easier, happier life. Instead of tricks or obedience, think useful skills like how to get along with a new baby or how to go in the cat carrier.

Near the beginning of the book, the authors say,
“we aim to show you how training can improve not just your relationship with your cat but also your beloved pet’s sense of well-being. That’s not to say that the training won’t be fun – it will, for both of you – but the distinction is that you will be producing a happy and well-disposed pet, not a circus star.”

Each chapter has a section on how cats see the world, followed by training information. Early chapters explain how cats learn. Chapter 3 introduces a set of key skills, along with activities so you can practise them before you start training for real. Future chapters use these key skills and apply them to the practical situations your cat faces in everyday life. The book shows you how to tailor training to your individual cat – taking into account whether your feline is bold or fearful, and what their preferred rewards are.

The book also explains how you can meet your cat’s instinctual needs to hunt and to mark their territory by providing scratching posts and toys. Ideas to keep indoor cats content include cat agility and a sensory box to bring the outside in.

The book received overwhelmingly positive feedback from book club members; even the ‘dog’ people found it fascinating.

With this book, cat owners will not only understand their cats better, but also be able to teach them useful skills. It is essential reading for cat owners, and may even change your cat's life.

For more information, read my interview with Dr. Sarah Ellis on The Trainable Cat, or learn more about the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club.

You can follow the authors on social media: John Bradshaw on Twitter, and Sarah Ellis on Facebook and Twitter.

If you've been reading too, what did you think of the book?

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy. She is the founder of the popular blog Companion Animal Psychology, where she writes about everything from training methods to the human-canine relationship. She also writes a column for Psychology Today and has received the prestigious Captain Haggerty Award for Best Training Article in 2017. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband and two cats.

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  1. A rather late response to the post but I enjoyed the book immensely and found it very informative.

    I now have two plastic syringes for use in training Casper the Cat. At eight years of age, he may not be too amenable but he is setting in well after some trauma with small children and a dog at his old home.

    We should be able to make some progress.


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