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New tricks

New tricks

Our feline friends can master tricks just like dogs. In fact teaching your cat some clever tricks can improve their mental agility and wellbeing, as well as strengthening the bond between you.

Pets can learn to perform all manner of tricks, from heeding a potentially life-saving 'wait' command to more unusual activities such as skateboarding. 'The benefits of training are huge,' says behaviourist Claire Stallard from animal welfare charity Blue Cross. 'Mental stimulation is very important.' Indeed, trick training is likely to result in better overall health, helping to build muscle tone and stamina in your pet and improve his or her flexibility and balance. Training should always be fun. 'You should never use methods that intimidate or cause your pet pain or fear,' says Claire. 'Pets, like people, do not learn when they are stressed or frightened.'

Clever cats

Clicker training - where a device is used to make a sound that tells an animal when it is doing the right thing - is especially popular. A retractable pen or vocal noise can be just as effective. Before you start training, teach your pet that a click equals a reward by clicking and giving a treat straightaway.

Pet agony aunt and cat expert Celia Haddon has used clicker training to teach her five cats and recommends that owners use training to enrich their pets' lives. 'There are immense benefits to training animals such as cats and house rabbits,' she says. 'It gives them something to do and enjoy, and can boost the relationship between owner and pet.'

For maximum success, never force a pet to do something they don't enjoy, keep within their limitations and stick to short training sessions.

Teach a cat to sit and beg

You can teach your cat that the sound of a clicker means food over several short training sessions. When she sits of her own accord, click as her bottom hits the floor, and treat. Repeat frequently. Add the cue word 'sit' just before she sits down; click and treat. Then hold a treat above her head so that she has to stretch to reach it. Add the cue 'beg' just before she rises up. Now you shouldn't need to hold the treat above her head. Click while she's up there and treat.

Adapted from an article on tricks for cats, dogs and rabbits written by Karen Cornish in PetPeople magazine (Spring 2013).

Do you have any tricks that you've successfully taught your cat? Share your stories with us below.

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jenny Davies
Hi - I have already taught Aslan, my Maine Coon cross cat, to sit and wait for his food and also to shake a paw for treats. He even pre-empts it now at times, if he really wants something he will sit and raise his before before i even open my mouth to say sit. So funny!
I've taught my cat to come in when I call his name and clap my hands and he gets rewarded with a treat. A shake of the Dreamies packet also works as well as any clicker!
Sue Walsh
I have found that you don't need a clicker for training. My cat finds it too hard to operate with his paws but has still managed to train me to perfection!
I was going to do cat agility with my Bengal when she was younger, however decided she hasnt the temperment as she gets stressed out easily and it wouldnt be fair. But she has always been "dog like" in her ways, Bengals are like the dog of the cat world in my opinion. She fetches her toy mice back when you throw them and she will sit when you say. Since i had my dog 2 years ago she has bonded with him so much. She either thinks shes a small dog or the dogs a small cat. My cat plays with tennis balls and tuggy ropes. They even run around together, My cat doesnt eat treats if you offer her a treat she runs off thinking your trying to poison her! So i just use her toy mice to play.
Paul Bodley
My cat Rosy doesn't seem to like treats or even Lick-e-Lix
Carol Rolfe
My cat Milly comes when I call, sits and begs for treats, loves to be combed, and have her paws cleaned and coat dried when she comes in wet, did not need to use clicker. she has been easy to train with just word commands.
Tabs Bacon owner Wendy Bacon
My cat Tabs was abandoned as a small kitten, he found dog food that I put out nightly for the fox, I stood for hours each night coaxing him to trust me, the weather was mid winter, how he survived is a miracle. He has been with us now since March, he is my constant companion, I get my stick and say " walkies" and he runs and plays, climbing the trees, sits on the garden bench with me, when he is wet from the rain he loves being dried with his towel, he loves being brushed, my concern is I am 80 years old, and he is just a baby, I worry about his future without me.
Jeanne Razzell
I hope you and Tabs have many happy years together but, if it would your mind at rest, why not check out the RSPCA's Home for Life service? www.homeforlife.org.uk
jackie knight
We have 5 cats that respond to clicks and sit for treats. 2 of them also give you kisses for their treats. We also have a 2 year old female cat called buttons who will fetch a ball if you throw it,we have hours of fun.
julia spender
I have 2 Siamese cats, they are mother and daughter. They both sit for treats, come in when I whistle at the door and understand 'no' when they are doing things they shouldn't be. They are really good fun especially when they have their mad half hour in the evening. I love them to bits.
Jordan Walker
I am teaching my pet cat on how to sit and where to poop. I always give him a food as a treat for doing all these things. I also give him a cuddle like a child and treat him as a my own baby for a job well done. We're almost done for these trick and we will do another trick when we're done perfecting it.
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