How to Teach a Cat to Stay

Two Parts:Preparing to Train Your CatTeaching and Testing Your Cat

Most people associate dogs with training a pet to stay. It is possible to train your cat to stay, though it may take more effort and patience. Once you've learned how to motivate your cat and taught basic commands, you should be able to teach your cat to stay as long as you are patient and dedicated. If your cat is struggling, remember to never force your cat to do anything she's not happy with. It may just take her a little longer to learn the command.[1]

Part 1
Preparing to Train Your Cat

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    Discover your cat's favorite treat. While your cat may like a variety of treats, you should find the one that motivates her the most. The best way to do this is to wait until your cat is hungry and place small amounts (about a teaspoon) of different treats into separate bowls. Place the bowls side by side and watch carefully to see which she pays the most attention to and eats the fastest. You might even notice her paying more attention to you when you prepare her favorite treat.[2]
    • Try lots of different foods, including ham, steak, tuna, freeze dried prawns, cubes of cheese, and commercial cat treats.
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    Keep the treats nearby. Since you'll be training several times a day (at least twice daily) over the weeks to come, have a ready supply of the treats. You may want to keep them in a treat pouch or small plastic container. This way, you can keep the treats on you so you'll be ready for any impromptu training opportunities that come up.
    • If your cat has a medical condition, especially anything gastro-intestinal or allergy related, check with your veterinarian to make sure the chosen treat is suitable for your pet.[3]
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    Realize that teaching is a multi-step process. Once you've found what motivates your cat, you may think you're ready to train your cat to stay. However, you'll actually need to get your cat used to a clicker. This training device will help her associate the click-clack sound of the clicker with a treat or reward.[4]
    • By preparing your cat to associate training with rewards, you're actively teaching her to stay rather than simply rewarding her with treats for doing something she intended to do anyway.
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    Clicker train your cat. Buy a clicker, a small plastic device that makes a click-clack sound when pressed. Teach your cat to associate the clicker with rewards by pressing the clicker and giving the cat a treat. Repeating this creates the basis of your early training sessions. This way, your cat actively looks for a treat when you press the clicker. Once this happens you are ready to move on with teaching.[5]
    • Once your cat is clicker trained, you can use the clicker to reinforce other positive behaviors.

Part 2
Teaching and Testing Your Cat

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    Teach your cat to sit. Wait until the cat is walking around, rather than just sitting anyway. Get her attention by showing her a treat and when she approaches hold the treat just in front of her nose. Sweep it backwards in an arc over her head and as she follows the treat her bottom will drop to the ground. The instant her bottom touches the ground, mark the action with a click-clack. At the same time, firmly say "sit" and then give her a reward.[6]
    • Spend several 5 minutes session teaching her this, until she is sitting on command.
    • Don't forget you can train whenever you are in the same room as your cat. You don't need to wait for a formal training session.
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    Teach your cat to stay. Get your cat to sit, then take one step away from her. If she doesn't move, click-clack (to mark the stay behavior) and say "stay." If she follows the command, immediately give her a treat. Repeat this several times and then end the session by giving her lots of praise.[7]
    • If your cat loses concentration and wanders off, end the session. Don't force her to train.
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    Challenge your cat. Once your cat has shown she can follow the command to stay, work on gradually extending the physical distance between you. Start by taking two steps away, and once she is staying regularly, you can increase it to three, four, or more.[8]
    • Take it slowly, and if the cat loses focus and gets up, then retrace your steps on the next session.
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    Distract and test your cat. Ask your cat to stay while you throw a toy as a distraction. If she has learned to stay, she won't chase after the toy. However, if she goes after the toy, return to practicing the command. Seeing you throw the toy and command her to stay will help your cat better understand what you're asking her do to by staying.[9]
    • You may want to leave the toy in sight during following training sessions. This way, your cat will get used to its presence and will be more likely to stay when you throw the toy again.
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    Be patient. Some cats will learn this command in a few days, while others could take weeks or months. If you find that your cat loses interest quickly or doesn't respond to the commands, change when you train. Train just before she normally eats, so she's more motivated by the treats.[10] Or, reduce the length of your training sessions until she starts to respond. Just be prepared to give training as long as your cat needs. Above all else, make sure your cat is enjoying the sessions, so she's more interested in training.[11]
    • Do fun active things with your cat after training sessions. For example, you might play a game with a wing-on-a string. This will also help use up any energy she saved up by sitting and staying during the training session.


  • Never yell or punish your cat. This will only confuse your cat and will do nothing to teach your cat the commands you want her to learn. Only use positive reinforcement.[12]

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Categories: Cat Training