Dear Critter Corner: I’m training my cat to follow a few basic commands like “come” and “sit”. When he does the command correctly, I give him a treat as a reward. But lately I’ve noticed that his stomach seems to be upset with all of the treats. What should I do?
That’s great that you’ve started training your cat and are using positive reinforcement by rewarding him with treats when he does the command correctly. This is a really great form of mental stimulation and also helps strengthen the bond between you and your cat.
In terms of your cat’s stomach, it seems that it may be sensitive to the treats you’re giving him or to the amount of treats. First try to remove the treats from your cat’s diet for a few days to determine if his stomach is able to go back to normal and is no longer upset. If so, then try giving him just 1-2 treats per day and watch for any signs of stomach upset. If not, then it may be less the type of treat that is affecting his stomach and more so the number of treats that he’s eating per day. Be sure to offset the number of treats you’re giving him by reducing the amount of cat food per day, so as to help manage his diet and weight.
For rewards during training, you may want to try cutting the treats into halves or quarters. This way you can reward him many times without increasing the number of treats you’re giving him. You can also try rewarding him with a kibble that is more sensitive to the stomach, whether of a certain protein or limited ingredients, or specifically designed for cat’s with a sensitive stomach. If he normally eats wet food as part of his diet, try rewarding him with something similar in texture and ingredients. Alternatively, some cats do well with praise and pets as a reward, which can be used instead of treats or kibble.