11 Steps to Train an Abyssinian cat

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Anyone who owns a pet Abyssinian cat will agree that this feline makes a perfect companion. They are graceful, affectionate, and amply active to keep you amused with their antics for hours.

Known to be a curious creature, your ‘aby’ will often be found exploring every nook and corner of the house or will quietly observe and supervise what you are doing.

But did you know that Aby, one of the oldest cat breeds, is highly intelligent as well?

In fact, when taught effectively, they can excel at most tricks and even train the owners to do, as they want to. (Yeah, I know. That’s not what I signed up for, either!) There is even a fascinating myth about the Abyssinian cats that they could solve a Rubik’s cube if only they had been given opposable thumbs.

A properly trained cat will not only provide entertainment but also make coexisting comfortable and easier.

So where do you start with the training process?

In this guide, I’ll teach you how to ‘train’ your Abyssinian cat to do almost anything – from basic to advance.

Abyssinian cat does tricks (Video)


1. Initial mind makeup

Abyssinians are gifted with intellect. But that does not mean they will learn the tricks in a day’s time. Whether you are training them to use the litter box or to discourage biting – always remember that training a cat takes time, effort, and lots of patience.

Many pet owners make the mistake of asking too much in a short time. However, just like us humans, cats also get bored quickly. This is why you should make sure that you train in short sessions each day and don’t try to progress too quickly.

While training, it is also important that you avoid ‘punishing’ or ‘scolding’ your pet. Cats don’t like to be stared at and are usually unable to tolerate loud and sudden noises.

Being too harsh on your gentle ‘aby’ can induce stress in the feline and create behavioral as well as health problems in the long term.

2. Get the rewards ready

Abys are motivated through two types of rewards – a praise from you and an eatable treat.

Petting, showing affection, and holding a cat for showing good behavior enhances positive interaction.

If you are using treats, make sure to use the eatables that your cat is enthusiastic about. This can be anything from bits of canned food, soft treats, and kibbles.

However, make sure to give the snacks in small portions. And don’t forget to cut back on your cat’s regular meals to prevent weight gain.

3. Invest in a clicker

A clicker is a common training tool for many animals. Available for only a few dollars, clickers ‘mark’ your cat’s positive behavior with a click, after which they are rewarded with a treat.

Without a clicker, your Abyssinian might become confused to why they are being rewarded:

If it obeys a command, hears a click, and gets a treat – they will catch on fast.

I’ve been using these basic clickers for quite a while now and I’ve noticed that they convey my message quite aptly to my Abyssinian cat. You can often find me working around the house with one of these clickers dangling with my wrist.

Associate your cat with the clicker. Once they come to you in anticipation of a treat, click the clicker and then give them the snack. Keep repeating the process until the cat learns to connect the clicker with a treat.

4. Get proper toilet training supplies

Training your cat to use the litter box is essential if you don’t want to go around the house cleaning up messes. For most cats, using the litter box is an instinctive behavior and once you show your cat where it’s placed, most felines adjust within no time.

The most important item for toilet training is a litter box. A quick online survey will show you litter boxes availability in various sizes and features. However, we recommend getting a box that is according to the size and height of your cat.

For example:

A kitten will do just fine in a small box but for a large, adult cat, you may need a big-sized box.

Moreover, some cats find it problematic to get in and out of a box with high sides. Likewise for kittens. For them, select a litter box with short sides.

5. Consider cat litter

Just like the boxes, a variety of cat litter is available in different types.

Types of cat litterMaterialEase of cleaningNatural odor controlLow dustBudget friendlySpecial consideration
Clumping clayBentoniteyesNoSomeYes Heavy to carry
Non-clumping clayClayNoSomeNoNoRequires frequent changing
CrystalsSilicaYesYesYesNoThey last longer with beads changing color when it’s time to change
Natural litterCorn, wheat, pineNoYesYesYesThe ingredients might be problematic for cats with allergies

You can test your cat’s litter preference by providing different types of litter for short periods of time. However, once you understand her liking, remain consistent in using the same litter to avoid confusion.

Regardless of the cat litter you use, it is important that you keep the box clean by scooping it at least twice a day and making thorough washing a priority at least once a week.

6. Toilet training your cat

Ideally, it is best to show your cat the litter box along with food and water amenities as soon as you bring her home. Experts advise confining it to one room along with the items to let it becomefamiliar and comfortable with the new environment.

Of course, do not keep her alone for too long and spend some hours of the day playing and interacting with your new friend so it doesn’t get bored.

Place the litter box in a quiet corner – Aby’s don’t like to do their business in noisy and crowded areas. Ensure that the litter box is kept in a private area of the house but not physically too far from your cat.

Place your cat in the litter box after every meal – Cats usually excrete waste after waking up and eating so make sure you direct her at these times.

Don’t forget to reward your cat and avoid punishment – Similar to every training process, don’t scold your cat for accidents outside the box and offer treat every time they manage to use the litter box effectively.

To prevent cat toilet training problems, make sure:

  • To keep the boxes very clean
  • Avoid litter boxes with covers
  • Keep one box for each cat you have, plus one extra box
  • Avoid keeping the litter box too close to the food and water units of your cat

7. Train your cat to come at your command

Training your cat to come at your call is a useful trick in everyday situations. Cats often wander on their own and may get frightened if they are unable to find their way back. Commanding them to come back to you will come in handy during such scenarios as they would find you through your voice.

To teach the kitten to come at your command, choose a cue word that is different from their actual name and is not used in other circumstances.

Utter the cue word and once the Abyssinian comes toward you, click on the clicker, and offer a reward to show appreciation.

8.  Training your Aby to combat scratching

Cats have a habit of scratching (and ultimately destroying) furniture. Obviously, a cat that is scratchingis doing so impulsively and the best way to resolve this issue is to provide it with a ‘scratching post.’

If you ever visit my place, you’ll find the sides of my sofa destroyed at the hands of my Abyssinian. That’s when a friend suggested me to buy a scratching post myself. I bought this awesome one from Cozy Cat Furniture. My cat has seriously forgotten that we have sofas in the house as it’s so consumed by the scratcher. If anyone wants to buy one, I’d really advise them to get this.

If you find your cat scratching at areas where they are not supposed to, make a loud noise to startle her and immediately direct towards the scratching post. By interrupting the behavior consistently, the Abyssinian will understand the difference between an acceptable scratching area and a non-acceptable one.

9. Train the cat to walk on a leash

A harness that attaches to the leash on your cat’s back is more preferred by Abyssinian cats rather than the ones connected to the neck.  Once you purchase the leash, keep it out in visible sight so the cat gets accustomed to it before putting it on.

Give your cat a treat and slowly transition to drape the harness over your cat’s neck. Leave it on for a few minutes each day until the cat becomes comfortable and familiar with the feeling.

Once you find the cat relaxed with the harness, attach the leash to it and let your cat wander around freely inside the home.

After a few days, start holding the leash and gradually move the training outside.

10. Train your cat to ‘shake’ hands

Simply align yourself to the same level as your feline friend. Tap its paw and say shake.

Once it moves its paw, mark the behavior with a clicker and treat. Keep repeating the command until the cat becomes accustomed to connecting the word ‘shake’ with moving its paws.

11. Play with your cat

As we mentioned above, Abyssinian are highly intelligent cats and can be trained easily. Make sure to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated by playing with them frequently.

Provide the cat with a bunch of toys like puzzle feeders, balls, and mice to keep them engaged as well.

My abys easily got bored with toys. I would often find them atop book shelves and high (and often breakable) objects. I figured that they like heights so I bought them this cute 64-inch cat tree. The bad news is that they no longer want any toys. The good news is that they like playing in that tree all day!

Ready, Set, Train

TrainingAbyssinian cats is worth the effort. It not only makes care easy but also enhances relationship. And once you start, you will see that training is not as hard as you think!

Good luck!

Related Questions

What is the average lifespan of an Abyssinian cat?Abyssinians have a long lifespan and most cats of this species can live up to 15 years. Providing the best healthcare, nutrition, and lots of affection can ensure your cat lives an optimal life.

Can aby cats find their way back home?Although Abyssinians are wise, they might have trouble finding their way back if they are not accustomed to the outside area. Take frequent walks outside and let it become acquainted with the outside world to avoid her getting lost in case she wanders out alone.

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