Cat training has its own language and its own set of tools. When your trainer suggests that your feline needs a cat fountain or a food puzzle or says she might enjoy a wand toy, do you know what she’s talking about? Trainer Mikkel Becker is here to help: She has defined some of the most commonly used cat-training tools recommended by trainers.
cat with feather toy


Cat fountain: Water fountain with an operating function that creates movement simulating running water.

Cat furniture: Elevated vertical structures for a cat to explore or use as an escape. These areas may include cat trees, cat shelving or perches.

Catnip: Herb from the mint family. Not all cats are affected by catnip, and reactions may vary widely. Some cats are excited and invigorated by catnip, while others may be calmed.

Cat room: A cat-proofed area of the home where a cat can safely and comfortably be contained. A cat room is useful if your feline sometimes needs a break from people or other pets or needs to be left alone for any length of time.

Cat toys: There are two basic varieties of cat toys: Those designed for a cat to play with on her own and those designed to promote interaction with a human. In both cases, toys are usually made of materials that are intriguing to a cat, such as feathers, bells or crinkly paper. Some interactive cat toys include electronic functions that allow the toy to move, light up or make noises. Other types of interactive toys, including wand toys, are designed to be manipulated by a human. A wand toy consists of a long stick or wand with a toy attached to the end.

Catio: Secure, enclosed area where a cat can enjoy the outdoors while being protected from dangers such as traffic and predators. Catios may be various shapes and sizes and may have special netting or wiring (to keep the feline safely inside), as well as climbers and scratching posts, if desired.

Cat fencing: Structure designed to keep a cat inside a designated outdoor space. Cat fencing uses specific materials and innovative design to help prevent cats from jumping out of (or, in some cases, into) a yard or secured area.

Cavity toys: See food puzzles.

Clicker: Tool used to mark or pinpoint a desired behavior with a clicking noise. There are a variety of clickers, from the standard box clicker, which makes a sudden, sharp noise, to more muted versions (like a ballpoint pen) for cats that are more sensitive to sound.

Collar: Cat collars are often designed with special stretch and breakaway functions, to help prevent felines from harming themselves if the collar catches on something. Collars are useful for holding ID tags.

Crate: Box-like shelter for a cat. Crates come in a variety of designs, including hard plastic, wire and soft-sided, and all crates should have at least two exits, one in the front and one on top. Some crates are designed to fold up for easy storage. Many veterinarians and trainers recommend a top-removal crate as the least stressful option for most cats when they must be removed from the container.
Cat on walk wearing harness


Den space: Area designated as a resting or hiding space. Den spaces can be naturally occurring areas like behind a couch or under a bed or cat-specific spaces such as a covered bed, tunnel or crate.


Food bowl: Stainless steel or ceramic container used to feed a cat. While cats with limited mobility may do better with the traditional single bowl, more able-bodied cats can be encouraged to eat more slowly or work for their meal when it is fed in several smaller bowls spread out around a designated area or throughout the home.

Food puzzles: Toy designed to hold food or treats. The cat uses her teeth, tongue, paws and mouth to manipulate the toy and remove the food, which provides important physical and mental stimulation.


Gate: Portable barrier that can be used to block off a specific area of the house. However, because most cats can jump a standard sized gate, it may be most useful for keeping other pets or people out of a cat-safe area rather than keeping the cat in.


Harness: Device used in conjunction with a leash to safely keep a cat from running away. Feline-specific harness and leash systems often include a bungee-type leash with flex.

Hiding area: See den space.


Kennel: See crate.


Litterbox: Contained, designated space in which a cat is trained to urinate and defecate. There are two basic types of litterboxes: covered (mostly enclosed, with an opening for the cat to enter and exit) and uncovered (open on the top and sides). Most cats do well with an uncovered litterbox. Whether you choose a covered or uncovered box for your cat, you can purchase a mechanical litterbox, which automatically sifts litter and can reduce cleaning time, although some cats may be bothered by the noise and movement.

Litter: Substrate used inside the litterbox to absorb urine and contain feces. There are many varieties of kitty litter, but cats commonly prefer a finer-grained substrate with clumping properties.

Litter mat: Rubber or plastic mat that sits under the litterbox and helps to contain any litter cats may push or track out of the litterbox.

Lure: A stimulus that a cat will willingly follow. Treats are the most commonly used lure, but toys are another useful type of lure.
Kitten using scratching post


Scratching post: A surface promoting clawing and scratching behavior from cats. Posts may be vertical or horizontal and are most frequently made of sisal, corrugated cardboard or carpeting. Scratching posts are useful for deterring unwanted clawing (for example, on furniture) and for dulling your cat’s claws in a healthy fashion.


Target stick: A long wand that can expand or retract as needed, with a ball on one end that the cat is trained to touch with a body part, commonly his mouth or nose. Some target sticks have a built-in clicker. A wooden spoon can be used in place of a target stick.

Training pouch, treat pouch: Pouch that holds treats and clips to a belt, pocket or waistband or has a fanny pack-style band that wraps around the waist. Larger training pouches can also hold other necessities, such as keys and a cellphone.

Treat stations: Areas around the home where treats are stored to make rewarding good behavior easier. Treat stations provide an alternative to carrying treats all the time. Concealing the treat containers keeps the cat on her best behavior, as she does not know when or where she might be rewarded.

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