training & communication
Unless you have formally trained with your cat (or you are proficient in animal communication), you have no intentional way to clearly communicate with your cat. Cats are smart enough to know our typical routines and pick up on our moods and energy, but most of our intentions become lost in translation.
Training actually occurs 24/7 through classical conditioning, which is the way that all animals (including us) learn. Cats tend to know us better than we know them because they are constantly observing and sensing our habits, energy, and routines. For example, when we turn on the vacuum cleaner, the cat learns that it’s a big, scary thing. The next time you get out the vacuum cleaner, your cat is likely to run for cover. Another example would be if you keep the cat food in a specific cupboard. When you open that cupboard, your cat has learned to associate it with yummy food, and so your cat may come running.
Operant conditioning is the way we intentionally communicate with cats (through formal training), to modify behaviors that are undesirable to use, as guardians. It’s also a way to build trust, improve bonds, and create a communication pathway between us and our cats. I often incorporate training into my behavior plans, but it’s also a fantastic way to enrich your cat’s life and create choices for your cat.