Train Your Cat to Love That Cat Bed

Also in Cat Psychology and Behaviour : -

Does your cat sleep in the bed you bought him? Or does he prefer the ironing pile, the airing cupboard or, in fact, any place other than where he is supposed to sleep? The frustrating fact of the matter is that many cat beds are bought, taken home, given a look of distain by the intended recipient and then never looked at again, but it doesn't have to be this way.

Cat beds come in a huge diversity of shapes sizes and styles, and after an unsuccessful introduction many owners have gone and bought a new style or shape again and again, with much the same result each time and an ever growing pile of unused cat beds clogging up the house.

Granted, some beds don't suit some cats for a number of reasons, but in truth the problem is not usually the bed - it's the cat. More specifically, it's the mindset of the cat and what the cat thinks about the bed.

Change the mindset, change the behaviour.

Changing a cats mind is easier said than done, right? I'm sure no cat owner would disagree with me, but there is a little known but highly effective secret to changing a cats mind - subtle persuasion.

Although not 100% successful with every cat in every situation, this approach has helped me train our cats to use the scratching post instead of the sofa arms, sleep in their intended beds, drink from their own water bowl (mostly) and my grandest feat yet - Rags will now sit on command!

The first thing to understand is the process by which a cat chooses a place to sleep. What are they looking for? What is important? How could I provide that?

In domestic house cats, the priority is not comfort; a cat will happily sleep on a concrete floor. It's also not warmth, as they already live in a house and have a thick fur coat. (Although heat sources can help, see below)

The first rule of finding a place to sleep, for the modern domestic cat, is the same as the first rule of house buying - location, location, location!

So what makes a good location for a cat bed?

Each cat is different and you will have to think about your cat's personality in combination with their current sleeping places, however there are a couple of rules of thumb which may help.

Somewhere out of the way is a good place to start, maybe under a table, behind a curtain, between two chairs, use your imagination. Either way, don't choose the middle of a room, or a hallway where he may be in constant view or constant danger of a misguided foot coming too close for comfort.

Next, can he see better than he can be seen? Behind a curtain may be good but half way behind, with enough gap to peek out at the room unseen is better. On top of a cupboard may be good, but on top of a cupboard with some boxes and other strategically placed obstacles could be better.

Heat from radiators (in the winter) or from sunshine (at any time of year) can also be very tempting for cats. Sometimes you just can't find places that meet all three criteria, but a windowsill behind nearly closed curtains is a good example of a place that does fit all three. Probably you wont have enough room for a cat bed on a windowsill, but it is a good ideal to look at for ideas.

If it smells like a duck.

The right location may be enough, the cat may look at such a comfy spot in a good location and just decide it's a good place for a sleep, but there's still more to do if kitty doesn't take the initiative.

Cats have an extraordinarily sensitive sense of smell, so of course the next thing to do in preparation of using the new cat bed is to make it smell right. When anything new arrives from a shop it smells of a combination of the materials used, the factory, the shop and any number of other smells it may have picked up along the way.

By simply using an item of worn clothing as a cover or lining, the bed will smell of you, rather than the shop. You might also want to put a few used cat toys in there too, as cats have scent glands in their mouths, so anything he has chewed will smell of him.

Leave it like this for at least 24 hours, and as with the last step, you may find the cat figures it out all by himself, but if not you're ready for the formal introduction.

Introducing you cat to the new bed.

Once you have a chosen a suitable location for the cat bed and it smells right, there's nothing left but to introduce them to each other.

Next time your cat happens to be in the vicinity of the bed go over to the bed and start arranging it and fiddling with it. Hopefully the cat will take an interest in what you're up to, but even if he appears not to, cats are very observant and he will have definitely noted the activity.

If he doesn't come over voluntarily, call him over and encourage him to check the bed out. If your cat enjoys Purr (and most do) you could make a big deal of opening up the bottle, and putting some on the bed.

Congratulate and praise kitty if he take an interest in the bed, but don't make a big deal if he ignores it to start with, as this could create a negative association. Cats are clever and if everything else is right he will work out that this is a good place to sleep.

Once a cat has decided that this is 'my bed' he will like the bed just as much as he likes the location. At this point you can move the cat bed to other more convenient places if you wish, and you will find that he will still be happy to use it.

To summarise, get the cat bed in the right location, make it smell right and introduce the cat and the bed without any pressure or negativity and they should spend many a sleepy day together for a long time to come.

Hopefully you find this article helpful, but please write to me and let me know if you have any comments or improvements to the method. We sell a large variety of cat beds and bedding at competetive prices in our online shop, please drop in and have a look.

This article was first published in The Purr Company's regular Mews-letter, visit us for more cat stories and articles, a gallery of our visitors cats , cat videos and our online shop.

You may reproduce this article free of charge in any free newsletter or on any free web site on the condition that this resources box is included with any reproduction.

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Becky said:

I have been struggling for a while to get my two interested in a Cat Activity centre I got them so will try these tips as so far they have spent one night in it.

sophie said:

thanks for tips. just got two new kittens and they wont use there new bed. they just sniffit, back away and hiss. i have now put it in there fav place with blanket and fav toy. hope this works