Cat at Spot
We love our cats for their independent and curious natures. They often want to be where we are and see what we’re doing. But a cat who is underfoot or on the counters can be a nuisance — and a hazard. Teaching your cat to go to her spot can help to keep her — and you — safer while minimizing chaos in your home.

Start by Designating a Spot

The key to getting your cat to go to her spot is to make the spot a desirable and rewarding place to be.

Location is one factor to consider when setting up your kitty’s hangout. If your cat has an established place she likes to rest — on your desk, for example — placing the new resting area next to her old haunt can make it easier to transition to the new resting spot routine. Locating the resting space in a preferred vantage point, such as near a window or on an elevated perch, can also help make it an appealing place to hang out.

If your cat’s spot is portable — a bed, towel or blanket — start by placing it in a specific area, like on a secure shelf or next to her favorite chair. Then, with practice, it can be transitioned to other areas like her crate or the vet’s office to create an on-the-go safe space for your kitty.

A cat who is relaxed with handling may be lifted onto the space, while a cat who is not fond of being picked up or carried can perhaps be lured to the spot with a wand toy or trail of treats. Encourage your cat to seek out the designated resting spot on her own by placing treats, catnip and toys there randomly throughout the day for her to discover.

When your cat is in her spot, give her all the things she enjoys: treats, meals, attention, petting, toys and play. This teaches her to associate the spot with good things happening to her.

If you find your cat in an undesired space — on the kitchen counter, say — luring or physically moving her from the forbidden space and into the new area and then rewarding her once she’s there can help to reinforce the new routine.

Training Your Cat to Go to Her Spot

Start by establishing a marker, like a clicker or word, to signal when the cat does a desirable behavior. Reward your feline with something she enjoys, such as treats, play or petting, after each marked response.

Initially reward any slight movement toward the space, like glancing at or stepping toward the space. Toys and treats or your own movement toward the area can initially be used to arouse your cat’s interest in the space. Place rewards near or on top of the spot to increase her tendency to gravitate toward it.

Once your cat is willingly approaching the resting space, begin encouraging her to move onto the spot. Start small: Reward even one paw on the space and work toward getting all four paws on. Once the cat’s four paws are on, reward her for remaining in the area. In the beginning, ask her to remain on the spot for just a couple of seconds before giving the reward; as she gets more comfortable with the spot, slowly increase the time she needs to remain there before rewarding her.

Once your cat is consistently going to her space, you can add a verbal cue, such as “bed,” to ask for the behavior. To teach the cue, say the word — “bed” — every time your cat steps onto her area. This repetitious pairing of the word with the behavior teaches her to associate the two things. Continue to reward her for going to her space.

If your cat is reluctant to move away from her space during training, you may need to toss a treat or toy away from the area to get her to practice moving back onto the desired spot.

Once your cat is responding to the verbal cue, add distractions and distance in small increments when asking for the behavior. This helps to prepare your cat to respond to the cue in a real-life scenario by incorporating elements of what the cat will likely experience when she is asked to go to her spot. Practice giving the cue while holding groceries or other things in your hands, while opening the door or with distractions like other people and animals moving around nearby.

If a cat needs to reliably listen and move right to her spot when asked, advanced training will be necessary. Talk with your veterinarian, who may be able to help, or may refer you to a trainer who can help you in this situation.

Training takes time, patience and consistency, but having a cat who responds to your commands is well worth the work.

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