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Identify Your Cat’s Favorite Spots
I knew I was facing an uphill battle trying to train Lumen, my strong-willed cat so I decided from the get-go that I was going to try to incorporate her natural behavior and preferences. Before we began training, her favorite lounge areas were:
- On top of dressers
- On chairs that were pushed under tables
- On bookshelves
- In baskets
- In windowsills
- Under beds
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen this picture of one of her lounge spots:
Although she was choosing furniture and spaces throughout the house, her favorite spots had a lot of things in common.
- Elevation – Apparently my cat likes to gaze down upon her domain
- Confined – Is there such a thing as anti-claustrophobia? If so, my cat has it. Unlike me, she likes to be enclosed
- Warm – Perhaps because she’s losing so much fur on a daily basis, she likes to snuggle up in spaces that keep her warm
Establish YOUR Favorite Spots for the Cat
Before I could start training my cat, I had to have a clear idea of where I wanted to allow her to lounge. We have a large house so I wanted to give her a few options. After much deliberation, I settled on three:
- In a basket under my desk – I preferred this to her usual spot in my office (on top of my keyboard). My desk sits up against a window so she had warm sunlight upon her as she lay safely confined in the basket with me between her and any intruders (which I hoped would alleviate her need to be up high). Plus, I like having her with me while I’m working, especially when I can actually get some work done.
- In a basket under the coffee table – I hoped this would satisfy her desire to hide in plain sight since it allowed her to be in the busiest part of the house completely undetected.
- On an empty bookshelf in the foyer – I wanted her to have at least one spot where she could enjoy being up high and since this bookshelf is largely decorative anyway, I figured Lumen could replace the knick knack that took up the space before I made it hers. I also think she secretly thinks she’s a ninja so this spot lets her play guard cat.
Experiment with Lounge Pads
Since I was trying to replicate my dogs’ behavior of laying in their designated dog beds, I was hoping to find a mobile cat bed. My idea was to try different “beds” to see what material my cat liked best so that I could use it to lure her to the spots where I wanted her to lay. I tried many things:
- Baby blankets
- Old pillows
- Old t-shirts
And then my cat, in typical I-call-the-shots-around-here fashion, chose the throw blanket from my husband’s chair as her favorite bed. We accidentally left it laying on the chair one day (instead of folding it and hanging it over the back of the chair as usual) and came back to find that Lumen had claimed the blanket as hers. She abandoned all of her other preferences (warm, confined spaces well out of the dogs’ reach) to lay on this blanket. As you can see from her expression, she was completely unapologetic and had no intention of relinquishing her claim.
Once you’ve found your cat’s security blanket (or towel or shirt), you can use it to lure him or her to the spots you’ve deemed cat-appropriate. I placed the blanket in the basket under my desk to draw Lumen there instead of my keyboard.
Find a Good Bribe
There are many aspects of pet ownership that remind me of parenting, and trying to get my cat to do what I wanted instead of what she wanted, was one of them. So, I pulled out one of my parenting tricks and decided to bribe Lumen.
You see, the problem with the blanket is that it could only be in one place at a time and I wasn’t going to go out and buy two new blankets for the sake of training (which is why I was pushing for the old towels, t-shirts, blankets and pillows earlier). And unless I moved the blanket when she wasn’t around to see it, she assumed we were playing and she would latch on to one end of the blanket and fight me for it.
Because my cat is a lot like me (or so my family keeps telling me), although she is strong-willed, she’s also super fickle. She is NOT a creature of habit. She loves to get new toys, new treats, and most of all, she loves when I buy her new cat food (OMG, she is like me! – I’ll do almost anything for a new snack or delicious meal).
I decided on Purina® Pro Plan® Savor Shredded Blend since it’s made with ONLY ingredients intended to contribute to cat health, with optimal levels of protein and fat and rich in antioxidants, omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. And because the Savor line was specifically designed to be delicious to cats, I knew she was going to love it. And boy, did she! The first time I fed it to her, I tried to pick up the bowl to move it to one of the lounge spots I was trying to train her to use and she batted my hand away.
So, instead I decided to add a few pieces of food to the places I wanted her to lay hoping the smell would draw her there and provide some positive reinforcement. It worked like a charm.
Watching her discover the food in her cat spots always made me smile. I imagine it’s what I look like when I find a piece of chocolate hidden in the bottom of my purse or at the back of the pantry.
Redirect Bad Behavior
Armed with the blanket and Purina® Pro Plan® Savor Shredded Blend cat food, it was pretty easy to get Lumen to use the spots I had chosen for her. Unfortunately, she was still using some of her old favorites too.
Each time I would find her in an unapproved spot, I would get her food bowl and lure her to one of the approved spots. I wanted her to willingly relocate.
On the few occasions that she wasn’t hungry enough to be tempted by food, I would simply pick her up and move her to an approved spot. After two weeks of relocating her, she finally got the idea. Now she very rarely lounges around anywhere but her three designated spots, even though she wanders the house all night.
If I was able to train my stubborn, temperamental cat, I know anyone can. I hope for your sake that your cat is more amenable to an old t-shirt rather than your favorite throw blanket. And if you want to try my training tips, head to PetSmart between 5/31 and 7/5 to stock up on Purina® Pro Plan® Savor® Shredded Blend to take advantage of this offer:
Spend $15 on any Purina® Pro Plan® product and SAVE $15 on your next purchase of 10.5 lbs or larger Purina® Pro Plan® Dry Cat or Dog Food or Litter by 7/31.
Look for this display: