How to Teach A Cat Its Name

teach a cat

You have just picked a cute name for your cat, but unfortunately, the cat is not responding or even recognizing the name. You keep trying, but it’s just not working with your cat. There is no reason to lose hope, as there are ways you can teach your cat its new name. 

When teaching your cat a new name, positive reinforcement has proven to work where you reward them with a treat every time they respond to their name. Cats are very intelligent and tend to respond positively when given the right stimuli.

That’s not all, as you still need to know how to train them properly and the things to avoid when teaching them to recognize their name, which you will learn if you read on. 

Cat Attitudes is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

How Can You Teach Your Cat to Recognize Its Name?

Some people believe that cats are impossible to train, but this cannot be further from the truth. Cats are brilliant, and with a proper training method and a bit of patience, you can have your cat learn to do different things. 

As for learning and recognizing their name, cats tend to respond well when they’re properly motivated. Many cat owners use positive reinforcement training to curb out bad behavior as they housetrain their pets to behave desirably. 

Positive reinforcement works by rewarding your cats with treats whenever they respond to their name. If done correctly, your cat will associate their name with food and treats, making it easy to respond when you call them. 

Start teaching your cat its name at an early age, preferably when they’re six months old, since it’s the period when kittens are eager to learn. You can still teach your old cat its name, but it will be a slow and challenging process. 

Be sure to follow these steps when teaching your cat its name:

  1. Buy the best treats that work well with cats.
  2. Choose a quiet environment that will allow your cat to concentrate.
  3. Use a happy tone when calling your cat by their new name.
  4. Hand them a treat when they turn to face you.
  5. Repeat this training for three weeks until your cat can associate its name with a reward.

After the cat has learned and responds to their name, take the training to the next level by increasing the distance between the two of you and introducing a little distraction such as radio or TV noise. 

What Happens If My Cat Is Not Responding To The Name?

Cats can become stubborn and might stop responding to the training. They may show little to no interest in your training, and if you push them, you risk provoking and even stressing them. If this happens, try any of the following measures:

Choose a Different Name

Choosing a cat’s name is not rocket science, but it can get tricky at times. If your cat isn’t responding to the name despite taking them through the proper training steps, it’s time to try another name. Choose a short name that is also easy to remember. Repeat the same training steps as before until your cat starts to recognize the new name. 

Tweak the Training Steps

The reinforcement training we have mentioned above works most of the time. However, all cats are different, and not all of them can respond the same way to similar training. For instance, it’s best to avoid training your cat when they’re energetic and playful. It’s hard for your cat to concentrate when they’re busy running around the house. Their brains are usually active and filled with curiosity during this period, so it’s easy for them to get distracted. 

Change the Treats

If you give your cat one type of treat for too long, they will get used to it and lose interest. Their brain will start to undervalue the reward, and they won’t be keen to receive it anymore. When this happens, it’s time to change the treat and find something new that you haven’t fed them in the past. Talk to other cat owners to see what works for them, and remember to choose only healthy treats. 

What to Avoid When Teaching Your Cat A New Name

Teaching your cat its name requires a lot of patience and practice. There are times when your cat will not respond to your training, and it’s best to give them their space until there is a change in their mood. It’s also common for the cat to lose concentration during training, which might end up frustrating you. No matter how your cat behaves during training, avoid doing the following:

Don’t Yell at the Cat for Losing Concentration

Cats might be intelligent, but they’re still animals. Their interest and expectations are completely different from ours. If your cat loses concentration during a training session, yelling at them will only make things worse. They will grow distant, lose interest in the training, and become stressed. The essence of teaching your cat its name is to bring out their best behavior, and negative reinforcement will only yield the opposite results. 

Remember to keep the training sessions short and fun for your cat. Like other pets, cats thrive in peaceful and loving environments, and you must create one for them. In case you suspect your cat has lost interest in the training, suspend the training for a few days and only resume when they start warming towards you.  

Don’t Overuse the Name

You might think that calling your cat by its name more often will make it stick. However, doing this will have the opposite effect. Remember that your cat translates the name you have given it as a sound. They’re incapable of assigning any meaning behind the name, unlike other pets such as dogs. 

When you overuse the name, your cat will get used to it and start translating it as background noise. Despite any efforts you put in from here onwards, your cat will not respond to this name for long. You’ll be forced to change the name and how frequently you use it around them. 

Don’t Scold Your Cat by Using Their Name

Scolding your cat even once using their name will undo all the hard work you have put into teaching them their name. If your cat misbehaves, which they always do, try using firm words like “NO!” without mentioning their name. If you continuously scold your cat while using their name, it’s only a matter of time before they start associating this name with negative influence. This way, they’ll always be nervous upon its mention, even when they haven’t misbehaved. 

Don’t Give Your Cat Different Names at Once

Picking the right name for your cat is crucial, and it’s something you should do with your family. Brainstorm different names and choose the one that feels comfortable. Encourage everyone in your home to call the cat by this name and not make up any nicknames as this would confuse the cat. 

Don’t Overfeed Them with Treats

You may be tempted to spoil your cat, especially when they respond positively to the training. However, there should be a limit on how many treats you should feed them at one time for health reasons. It’s okay to skip a day of training to avoid overfeeding them. 

TIP: Don’t expect too much from your cat or put too much pressure on them. Keep encouraging them and try to improve the training sessions by making them fun and exciting. 


Cats might be eccentric, but they’re also intelligent enough to learn new tricks and behavior. Using positive reinforcement is the best way of teaching your cat their name. Choose a different name if your cat is not responding to the one you have given it. Avoid using negative reinforcement, overusing the name, overfeeding the cat with treats, and scolding your cat using its name. 


NatureThe SpruceScienceMediumPet Place