Cat got your attention? Tips for training your cat during online school

Photo of untrained cat
Stefan_Zdzialek/Creative Commons
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Since I’ve been living in a one-bedroom apartment with my cat, we’re constantly in each other’s presence. If I didn’t have online classes, meetings all day and homework to complete every night, this would be a dream come true — just me and my cat cuddling and playing all day. 

However, since I’m so busy and it’s physically impossible to keep my work and home life separate, I’ve had to learn a tough lesson of how to train my kitten while focusing on school. While I’m definitely not a cat expert, I’m simply sharing what’s worked for me and my furry friend. If you’ve recently adopted a cat or are thinking of adopting one, here are some tips I’ve picked up for busy college students who want to train their cats! 

Put the cat bed on your desk

Is your cat always sitting on your keyboard? Put their cat bed on your desk next to your laptop. While your laptop provides some warmth, your cat probably sits on it not to annoy you, but because they love you and want to be included in whatever you’re doing! Spray their bed with catnip to make it extra enticing. 

Put them in another room for a timeout

If your cat keeps drinking your water, trying to eat your dinner, biting your arm or whatever behavior you want them to stop, immediately pick them up and put them in another room with a shut door. Be sure to do this immediately after they perform the bad behavior so your cat understands the punishment. If they start scratching at the door or meowing, ignore them until they stop. After about 10 minutes, or after they’ve stopped meowing and scratching at the door, let them out. If they do the bad behavior again, keep repeating the process. This will take a lot of patience, but learning is a patient process! 

The holy grail: A spray bottle filled with water 

It took me a while to figure this one out, but my cat is always on the kitchen counter, walking on the stove (even if it’s not heated, your cat shouldn’t be walking on it in case they do when it’s heated), chewing on my clothes or swatting my homework off of my desk. I would always pick her up and move her away from these situations and try to distract her with a toy, but she’s tenacious and this wasn’t working. Within the first three days of using the spray bottle, she’s learned where she should and should not go. This is a fast way to train a cat — they hate being wet. However, make sure to only spray them when you’ve exhausted other methods such as distracting them or moving them into another room. 

Tape up your furniture or get a scratching post 

My cat loves to thrust her claws into the chair I got for $15 from Facebook Marketplace. However, I realized that I wouldn’t want her doing that to new furniture I’ll buy in the future after college. A good fix for this is to either use anti-cat scratching furniture tape or get them their own scratching post. Even better, get them a scratching post that doubles as a perch for bird watching: a win-win for the both of you!

Don’t forget to give your cat some love

Most importantly, don’t forget to show your cat some much-needed love! Take 10 to 20 minutes during your homework sessions or in-between classes to play with your cat (my cat goes crazy over hair ties when I throw them). Scratch behind their ears and under their chin to show them you love them and appreciate the role they play in your life! 

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the ways you could train your cat. It’s also important to remember that different tricks work for different cats, so ask friends, family and local shelters about the best ways to train your cat! 

Contact Özge Terzioğlu at [email protected].