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The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat
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The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  559 ratings  ·  95 reviews
A New York Times Bestseller

"I have to hand it to Bradshaw and Ellis: Once you suss out their basic cat-training philosophy, their methods totally work." --Slate

We often assume that cats can't be trained, and don't need to be. But in The Trainable Cat, bestselling anthrozoologist John Bradshaw and cat expert Sarah Ellis show that cats absolutely must be trained in order
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Basic Books (first published August 4th 2016)
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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. VanceA Mother's Reckoning by Sue KleboldThe Prince of Tides by Pat ConroyThe Great Santini by Pat ConroyDark Money by Jane Mayer
Fresh Air 2016
130 books — 29 voters
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Fresh Air 2017
147 books — 41 voters


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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  559 ratings  ·  95 reviews


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Niki
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Stay in the garden, come when called, allow nail trimmings, take pills, go willingly into the cat carrier - this book is a handy arsenal of tools for training the weird alien creatures I cohabitat with. Some of the guide is just too much to undertake (unless you are more patient than I am), but the insight into cat behaviour was just as (if not more) valuable than the training itself. Understanding "why" my cats do what they do, and how I have trained them (mostly inadvertently) to do these thin ...more
Matt
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I AM NOW A CAT TRAINING GOD!!!!!
Amy
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
these people have way too much time on their hands. but my boyfriend said he'd bake me a cake if I taught my cat to sit, so I'm in it.
Wayne
This book contained a lot of methods for training through conditioning and desensitization broken down into small steps. Once you understand the method, it's easy to predict how to apply it to other tasks/situations you need your cats cooperation in, and so it gets a little repetitive in its examples.

The training sessions are short and should be done when the cat is relaxed.

Key skills:
1. Reward spontaneous observation and exploration
2. Gentle systematic desensitization and counterconditioning
3.
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Emily
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
This book was all right, but it focused mostly on training your cat to do things, whereas I am primarily interested in training them not to do things (e.g. climb the screen of the back door, climb the shower curtain, climb my leg while I am preparing their food, jump on the table during dinner, gnaw on each other, etc.). Given that every cat I know hates vet visits anyway, I'm not sure I'd spend my time on the twenty (!) step procedure for getting your cat to tolerate the carrier. Some of the tr ...more
Charles
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
While I appreciate the wisdom and research put into this book, I am not inclined to annoy our cats with several of the training exercises suggested. One is 15 years old and quite set in her ways, the other is 4 and playful. Perhaps he could be trained but I would have to sequester the older cat somewhere for such training, which is not likely to happen.
Prima Seadiva
3.5 stars. Audiobook read by the author.
I found this book to be fairly interesting.
The author definitely believes that cats are trainable, sets out various behaviors and how to encourage or discourage. Most use the reward method whether food, attention or play. His discussions of cat behavior were useful as well. For some tasks he goes into much detail maybe too much. The most important aspect may be the ability of the cat owner to be consistent and patient.
On reading I found I had used some of
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Nancy
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Downloaded from my state library in audio form. Helpful information. But very dry. It's a little involved for anyone who wants to have a pet cat. Too much psychology of how to understand a cat. My opinion--who wants to? That is the wonder of pets. They can't be understood, just loved. :)
Sarah
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
We have successfully introduced our two new kittens to our nine year old, anti-social resident cat, over the course of almost two months. This book definitely helped steer us in the right direction, and gave us better understanding of social dynamics amongst cats
enricocioni
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
All cat owners should own a copy of this book--your cat will thank you! The basic idea is to teach your cat not to be stressed about potentially stressful things--e.g. combing, being put in a carrier, having to share a home with another pet or a baby, etc.

Our cat has rather long fur that tends to clump in places, but she used to hate being combed--no matter what type of comb we used, no matter how short we made our sessions. She would emit these little outraged shrieks at each passing of the com
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Sara
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
3+ stars

The author's premise is novel (and surprisingly believable): cats *are* trainable. And coming from that vantage point, the methodology is not rocket science. Effectiveness is built on a strong relationship of trust along with lots of good ole reinforcement over long periods of time. Hence some of the wordiness and repetition. Not all sections of the book applied to our situation, but the remainder was helpful. I also appreciated the various insights into a cat's perspective of the world,
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Nicholas
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great resource for learning how to train your cat and make them happier in general. I will certainly be using the advice in this book, especially to help My cat, Margot, learnt to consistently come when called. Anyone who owns a cat should read this!
Robert Albright Jr
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really excellent book if you are a cat owner. The tips and techniques described will help owners of all cats to understand the way their cats react to the world around them. We recently introduced a new kitten to our house, and the transition went exceptionally well, due to the advice provided in this book. Other very important topics cover coexisting with dogs and babies, and training to reduce the anxiety involved with trips to the Vet.
Earl Grey Tea
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Reading this book has helped me better understand my cats and why they act the way they do. Why does our Persian named Ggoma chase her wand toys so enthusiastically for the first thirty seconds and then lays down on her side expecting the toy to remain within her reach? Turns out, cats are sprinters, not marathon runners. Chasing down a small prey is done in short bursts and is not an endurance event.

In this book John Bradshaw provides scientific information about cats and their history, while S
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Colette
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

I found this book fascinating, especially the beginning chapters about the domestication of cats. So interesting. I think I need to read Cat Sense to get more of that. As for the training part, it seems like it will be very helpful. Our kittens are at the very beginning stages of socialization since they were feral. I am hoping to use some of these techniques and training methods to help us all have a better relationship and place them in permanent homes. Being so far away from most o
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Yvonne Hop
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I got my first cat and I thought: what better than to read this book?

Let me start by saying that half of it was pretty useful. It gave me insights in cat behavior and where it comes from. I especially like the parts where they talk about why certain behavior is embedded in a cat and what you can do to make him feel comfortable about it.

What I disliked most is the constant repetition in the book. Long story short: whatever you want to teach your cat, approach him in steps, reward him after every
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Courtney
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, advice
I borrowed this book from a friend, after I trained my cat to "sit." I thought it would be very insightful and helpful in training my new Bengal kitten to be on a harness and burn some of the excessive energy she has pent up while I'm at work all day. . . and, it was. The main message here is that in order to train a cat you have to be patient, persistent, consistent, and have a lot of treats to feed them. I have yet to train my kitten to do anything else, although she seems to be pretty resilie ...more
Claire
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
While dog has the reputation of being man's best friend, the cat has been diligent pest control for millennia. (And my kitties have become some of my best friends! They sleep with me almost always. ^_^)

The reason I did not give this text a fifth star is that I had to mark what each chapter in the endnotes was to keep myself from getting confused. And when I have to write in my books anything, that diminishes my opinion a little bit. (This is my own copy so I could do such a thing. It isn't like
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Gabby
May 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
So, my rating isn’t so much on the techniques outlined in the book as much as the content and structure. Though, I will agree with another review that pointed out that it would have been useful to include more ideas for getting your cat to NOT do things.

I felt the chapters were too long and some of the info was repetitious. There were sections that didn’t apply to me — like if you have kids — that should have been broken into their own chapters for those of us that could have just skipped it, s
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Emily Baer
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Trainable Cat gives a detailed overview of all you need to know about the behavior of cats. It teaches you countless ways to train your cat to be more comfortable with whatever may cause it stress, and to behave in a way that is beneficial for both human and cat. Each chapter reviews one or two specific behaviors, such as making your cat comfortable in a cat carrier or teaching your cat to come when outside, and goes through dozens of ways to train the behavior with exceptions for all the un ...more
Barbara Monk
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book. If you really want to make your cat a more acceptable pet to non-cat lovers, or just want to make it easier to live with, this book will explain how to do that. Even people who are naturals with cats can probably pick up a few tips for a little better understanding. And if you don't have a natural talent for relating to animals, even if you don't want to spend hours following the steps to train your cat, you can learn so much of how your cat thinks that you will have a ...more
Lara
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An essential starter read for anyone who is about to (or has just) adopted a cat!

Gives you great, easy, simple ways to train your cat (and yourself!) to have a happier household all around, and less of the irritants and concerns we tend to have as owners.

Cat been adopteds for a while? Not a problem! It may take longer to train, but it can be done - that's the moral of this book!

As long as you come in with an open mind, you will learn a lot about your feline friend you may not have known, recogn
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Jennifer
This was a great introduction to behavior training for felines (though you could use the same techniques for any animal, really). I was glad to see many different rewards mentioned for positive reinforcements besides just food, and that most of the behaviors that were trained were for maintaining health and safety instead of just cute tricks. I loved the ideas for enrichment at the end, too - not training per se, but ways to keep your cat occupied and interested during the day. I'd recommend thi ...more
Hin-Tai
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Useful, if only to show how difficult cat training is. Key points, for my own sake: break everything down into tiny steps. Reward each tiny step with clear markers. In many cases where desensitization is the aim, reward after you have finished. Once marker, behaviour and rewards have been well-established, reward intermittently. When training, quit while cat is still excited - don't wait for the cat to grow bored or lose attention. Train in little bursts, over a long time, consistently. Don't gi ...more
Spellcheck
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Much of the training is more work than we're willing to attempt, but there was some good insight into cat behavior.

This book helped us integrate our new cat into our home. (She'd been found on the street by the humane society, with wounds along her neck and shoulders, probably inflicted by another cat.)

There were some tips that seemed excessively difficult, and there could have been more training on how to get cats to learn how not to do the things you don't want them to do. Still, it worth a r
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Andy
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had never thought about training my cats before, but this book gives great information. Not only does it give a good understanding of how cats think and learn, but it gives a good amount of practical instruction for the most common issues that can be solved with training. The practical lessons make the book a bit repetitive since the key skills are discussed early on and most of the practical skills are some application of a combination of key skills. However, this book is invaluable for those ...more
Michele
I read to page 85 and switched to another book. I might come back to this before I have to return it to the library. Did learn some things about cats. Just not hyped to train in these ways. Would it help my cat have a less stressed life? Yes. Is the trade off of less stressed cat, more stressed owner worth it to me? Not at this time. I do love my cat and think that most of the time, he has a pretty good life. I will play with him more.
Ania Gaska
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
It seems like a lot of work to train cats but I think long term that it will keep my cats happy and that with it I can help them get accustomed to the weird world that us humans have created. I used to think that if you didn't teach something to a cat as a kitten then they would never improve, but now I understand how to get my older cat to be more comfortable with getting his nails clipped and how to get my younger cat to stop screaming at me in the morning to wake up and feed him!
Chelsie Beaudoin
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides insight into cats’ behaviors and what we know of their thought processes, then gives practical steps on how to train cats based on their psychology. Great info on how to help cats be more relaxed and happy with our demands of them - living with multiple cats/pets, vets, travel, indoor lifestyle. Basically the crux of all training is to break it into small pieces and work on those for small amounts of time and build up to the actual behavior wanted.
Lisa
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Must every book about felines begin with the domestication since ancient Egypt? The second author had a delightful interview on Fresh Air but this book is just operant conditioning 101 applied to cat scenarios. It's boring and repetitive. Most annoying is the constant comparison of cats to dogs. Not necessary and off topic.
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John Bradshaw is Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol. He lives in Southampton, England.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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“For cats, successful training relies on rewarding the desired behavior and ignoring unwanted behavior.” 0 likes
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