How to Teach a Cat its Name?

Most of the time when someone adopts a cat, it will have to adapt to a new environment. New people, new behaviors, and a new name.

The latter oftentimes leads to difficult situations, with owner and cat not understanding each other, so to avoid those we will show you in this post how to teach a cat its name!

Why does my cat need a name?

Whether your cat is young or old, striped or spotted, fluffy or coatless, born in your family or adopted, it will need to respond to you. How can you live in the same house without some basic ability to communicate, after all? Teaching it good behavior simply won’t work without a basic means of connecting. And no, giving it food does not on its own constitute a connection!

Some maintain that cats don’t necessarily need a name. They are considered generally less likely to listen to you, and more independent than other animals.

You should, however, have some way of catching their attention without always having something to offer to them. In that sense, no, you don’t need a name for your cat, but it is the easiest way to connect, without having to continuously offer food.

Without your influence, your cat only has its primal instincts, and even with your help, it will still heavily depend on understanding their world through them. Food, comfort, and pleasantries are what drives your cat. They will without fail garner its attention, but you won’t always have kibble or ham in your pockets, will you?

The art of teaching your cats its name!

Knowing how to teach a cat its name is probably one of the most important, yet hardest things to achieve. In on itself, your cat will not have any motivation to remember the name you assign to it. After all, it is basically just a weird noise you make.

However, cats are deceptively intelligent and can remember associations in particular very well. They may not remember the name for the sake of listening to you, but they will learn whether or not it connects to something nice.

Positive Reinforcement

The basic principle is called ‘Positive Reinforcement. You want to connect some words you say – a name in this case – to a good feeling for your cat, so you use what your cat likes. Holding out its favorite treat, while just saying the name once, and repeating that every so often, once or twice a day, will go a long way towards ensuring your cat will remember its name for the rest of its life.

The same principle can work with almost anything you want to teach it, too. It’s not just about how to teach your cat its name. You want your cat to sit? Push its behind gently downwards, while presenting it with its favorite food. Want to teach it to roll over? Lead it with your hand, all the while keeping its attention to the treat.

Keep in mind that you have to use this method sparsely. If you give your cat tasty treats for everything it does, it will stop viewing them as special, and as such fail to associate them with anything specific. Be aware of what is special to your cat, and you will be the special one.

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What is a good name to choose?

Now that we’ve understood how to teach a cat its name, there comes an even harder part: finding a memorable name.

This sounds all good and easy, but it won’t matter much if your cat isn’t capable of remembering its name. Sir Furrheim Flufflebottoms the Third probably won’t listen to you, if you address him like that. I’ll remind you again, that a name is basically just weird sounds to a cat. The example I showed you would be just as ambiguous to it, as an alien language to us.

Keep it simple. You only need one or two syllables. Anything more is stretching the limits of what your cat will be able to remember. E- and I-sounds will also elicit the quickest and most reliable response. It should be easy to say for you, as it is to catch for the cat. Shorten Sir Furrheim Flufflebottom to Furry, or Fluffy, or just Sir – or come up with a different name altogether.

After you’ve found a fitting one and learned how to teach a cat its name, created a relationship and connection with your cat, there is still several things that could go wrong.

What not to do!

If you did everything, you may think there’s nothing that could keep your cat from paying attention to its name, right? Wrong! With every positive, there’s the option for a negative, too. If you accidentally bring those in connection to the name you want your cat to listen to, chances are it won’t.

One common mistake I see people make is in the tone of voice. Cats are naturally curious, but they’re also very skeptical. Even the tastiest treats will not persuade a cat to come over, if your intonation sounds threatening to it. If you get frustrated easily, or are particularly stern in general, maybe you should try to relax before calling out to your cat.

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Scolding your cat

Scolding them is another big one. I would advise against it in general, but should you feel like you have to, you ought to avoid using your cat’s name. Just think about it; Would you listen to a word, that goes along with being scolded if you could avoid it? Or would you escape to the highest place in the room, far outside the reach of the person shouting at you?

You should also avoid calling your cat just for the sake of calling it. Every time you do, and don’t have anything for your cat to do, or to gain, it will wear away at the understanding that the word you use has a purpose. Over time it will get ignored more and more.

While the notion, that this name is a call for your cat to come over, will still remain, it will at some point only do so, if you directly present it with food. Just like you had to in the very beginning. And at that point, what is the point in even giving it a name?

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