Teaching your cat new tricks
Sit, stay and fetch… Those are just for dogs, right?
No — contrary to popular belief, our feline friends can master these tricks too.
You can teach your cat these tricks, both old and young. But, unlike dogs, cats aren’t likely to be motivated by praise and require patience, practice and a lot of rewards…
With the right methods, your feline companion will soon amaze you with the things he/ she can learn.
Why train your cat?
Teaching your cat some clever tricks can improve their mental agility and wellbeing, as well as strengthening the bond between owner and pet.
The key benefit of training your kitty is that you develop an interspecies communication system — better communication benefits any relationship.
You can teach your cat to perform all manner of tricks and fun interactions, such as coming on command, begging and even a shake of hands between owner and pet.
Training your kitty will also provide mental stimulation, which is very important for a cat’s health.
How to teach your cat new tricks?
Training should always be fun for both you and your cat, and new tricks should only be taught with positive, reward-based training.
- Use treats – Cats can be rewarded with treats to help learn the new trick however be aware not to overfeed your cat as these treats should be part of their normal balanced diet.
- Get your cat in the mood – Start by giving your cat a treat to get his/her attention, if your feline friend isn’t in the mood, be patient and try again later.
- Use a clicker – A pet clicker is a device used to make a sound that tells your pet when they are doing the right thing. Each time your cat does something right, make the clicking sound and give him/her a treat. The sound and positive reinforcement of the treat condition your cat to repeat the behaviour. It’s important to introduce and use a clicker properly – we recommend that you do some research or consult with a cat behaviourist on how to clicker train your kitty correctly.
- Keep sessions short and frequent – Cats learn through repetition, so frequent training sessions will help them perfect a trick. Repeat the session several times a day, keeping them brief to hold your cat’s attention.
- Repeat tricks – Each time your cat completes a trick, give him/her a treat. Try repeating the trick 5-10 times in a row, as this will encourage the behaviour.
- Introduce cue words – Once your kitty has learned a trick you can introduce a word like “sit”. This will help your cat associate the word specifically with the trick.
- One trick at a time – Only move on to a new trick when your cat has fully mastered the current one to avoid confusion.
- Don’t use punishment - Cats learn from rewards and positive reinforcement, not when they are punished. Punishing your cat will only make him/her stressed or disinterested.
If your cat doesn’t seem interested in learning a new trick, or doesn’t perform it properly, take a break and try again later.
For maximum success, never force a pet to do something they don't enjoy, keep within their limitations and stick to short training sessions.
Training your feline friend will give them something to do and enjoy, and can boost the relationship between owner and pet.
Do you have any tricks that you've successfully taught your cat? Share your stories with us below.