Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to train a cat to respond to a few simple commands. Cats, like other animals, can be conditioned to respond to an auditory
signal for a food reward. With a little patience and consistency and lots of praise, he will be able to learn to sit or come at your command.
Learning to sit
Like the rest of us, cats need a little motivation to do things. Since cats learn only if they want to, the most teachable moments are before mealtime. To teach him to sit, hold a treat to his nose. Be sure to choose something you know he finds irresistible. Lift the treat slowly up a few inches then back, keeping it low enough over his head that he isnt inclined to swat at it with his paw. As he tips his head back to follow the food, he will sit in order to keep his balance. Say sit once, in a soft, pleasant voice. When he sits, immediately give him the treat as well as lots of praise. Your objective is for him to link the two events – his hind end on the ground and the treat in his mouth. Repeat once or twice per session. Remember, dont give him the treat unless he sits.
Learning to come
Your cat is probably already trained to come to a sound cue such as the sound of the electric can opener or the sound of his food dish being filled. To substitute the verbal cue come for the sound cues, begin with a hungry cat in close proximity. Put a treat in front of his nose and then back up a few steps. Use his name and say come in a clear, pleasant tone. When he comes, give him the treat. Repeat a few times.
Keep the training sessions short and fun. Give your cat ample praise, and make sure your language and expectations are clear. Use the same words in the same order all the time. Your cat will eventually link come with an immediate food reward and praise. Once he has accomplished this much, try standing farther away for the next training session. If he comes right away, reward him. If he doesnt, go to him, put the treat up to his nose, then back away to the place where you first called him.
Encourage him to follow you by calling his name and offering praise. If he comes, reward him. If he doesnt come, end the session and try again another time.
To make the game more challenging, step out of sight, say his name, and ask him to come. Keep calling him while he is looking for you. This keeps him motivated and helps him orient to the sound of your voice. He will play this game as long as he is interested. When he is bored with it all, the game is over.
A daily 10- to 15-minute training session in an environment free of distractions should produce results that are pleasing to both you and your cat.