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Can I Teach My Cat To Do Tricks?
The Basics of Trick Training
It’s super easy to get started training your cat a few simple tricks. All you need is a yummy treat that your cat loves! Picking the right treat is easy, all you have to do is figure out your cat’s favorite food. Most kitties will go crazy for store-bought treats, making them the ideal training tool.
You might need to get a little more creative if your feline is particularly fussy. Try several different options to figure out what treat will work best for your kitty. Shredded chicken breast, cheese, and canned tuna are all popular treat options among cat owners and can be easily found in your local shop.
Ideally, you would use a low-calorie treat for training your kitty. You will be feeding your cat about 10-15 treats per session while still maintaining his overall calorie intake. However, if your cat’s favorite dish is something very filling like liver pate, feed it in small doses only and reduce the amount of food your cat is fed.
Now that you’ve chosen the perfect treat, how do you train your kitty to do tricks? Well, it’s actually quite simple. All you have to do is encourage your cat to do the trick by guiding him with the treat. Then, once they perform the trick, give them the treat and lots of praise. Repeat this process over and over until your cat is doing the trick consistently.
Once your kitty has figured out what you want them to do, you can add a voice command or hand signal to the trick. Again, this is super simple! Guide the cat into the trick, just like before, while saying your chosen voice cue or performing a hand signal at the exact same time.
As you repeat this several times, you will need to guide your kitty less and less until they perform the trick in response to the command. Once you have done this, congratulations! You have successfully taught your cat his or her first trick.
Extra Training Tips
The most important part of training your cat is to keep things fun for both you and your feline friend. But sometimes training cats can be frustrating. They get bored easily and many are very lazy. Being patient while teaching your kitty a new trick is essential to keep them interested. If they seem to be struggling with a particular move, consider taking a quick playtime break to re-energize you both or maybe even giving training a miss for a day or two.
Short training sessions will help keep your kitty engaged during training and will encourage them to come back for more the next day. It’s best to stop a training session long before your cat gets bored or tired. For best results, stick to 2-5 minutes per lesson. You can do a few lessons per day, as long as they’re spread out and short.
Clicker training is an amazing tool that will bring your kitty’s training to the next level. It requires good timing on your part but once you figure it out you will be wondering why you didn’t add it to your cat’s training sooner!
To start clicker training, all you need to do is teach your feline that they will get a treat every time they hear a particular sound (or ‘click’). You can buy a cheap clicker from your local pet store or you can make up your own sound using items you have at home! Anything from a hand clap to a pen click can be used.
Once your cat associates the clicker with a treat, all you have to do is ‘click’ and treat when your cat performs the behavior you want. You can even use clicker training to gradually shape a trick. Say you want to teach your cat to sit on a platform. First, you would click and treat when your cat sniffs the platform, then again when they put one paw on the platform. Continue like this until they have all four paws on the platform. Once your cat is used to clicker training, they can learn a new trick in a matter of minutes!
Target training is another incredibly useful tool to improve your cat’s training. The premise of this is to teach your cat to touch a ‘target’ with their nose when you say the command, “touch”. You would train this trick just like any other, by giving a treat when your feline touches the target.
Having the “touch” trick in your cat’s arsenal allows you to easily guide your cat into new tricks. No more bending down or risking your hand if your kitty decides to try and grab the treat off you. Once you have added the voice cue to your cat’s new trick, you can start to take away the target until they perform the trick without it.
How Long Does It Take to Train a Cat?
It’s almost impossible to give a definitive answer to this question. How long it takes for your cat to learn a new trick depends on a variety of factors. Age, personality, and previous experience all play a huge role in how open your cat is to trick training.
Cats and kittens less than one-year-old are more open to new experiences and will pick up new tricks quickly. Kitties can start learning simple tricks from about 6 weeks old and the sooner they start the easier they will be to train later in life. But if your cat is much older, don’t despair! For the right treat, they can still learn a trick or two. It will just take a little more patience and time.
As every cat owner knows, kitty personalities vary wildly. If your cat has a moderate personality (i.e.: not super hyperactive or lazy) they will probably learn tricks much more quickly. Meanwhile, felines with more extreme personalities tend to get bored easily and need shorter training sessions to keep them interested.
Of course, the complexity of the trick also determines how long it will take your cat to learn. Most felines will pick up simple tricks, such as sit, after one or two training sessions. However, if you’re teaching your cat a more complex trick, especially one that needs extra props like platforms, it could take several days for them to perfect it.
Can All Cats Be Taught Tricks?
Yes! Every cat can be taught, at the very least, some basic tricks regardless of their personality, age, health status, or previous experience. Of course, some tricks might not be accessible to cats with certain mobility issues. Likewise, you will have a very hard time teaching a couch potato kitty to jump an agility course!
But, with a little bit of patience and persistence, even the laziest and most aloof felines can be taught a trick or two. As we’ve said before, it’s all about finding the right treat!
What Tricks Can You Teach a Cat?
The only limit to what tricks you can teach a cat is your imagination! But, of course, you will probably want to start with the basics. The first couple of tricks your cat learns should be behaviors they do naturally on a daily basis. These include sitting, lying down, and coming when called.
Once your kitty has these basic tricks down, you can start to make them a little bit more complicated. Tricks like stay, speak, and spin are a good next step once the basics have been mastered. These tricks don’t require your cat to interact with anything else but are a little bit more difficult for them to figure out.
Now you can start to add tricks that include extra props. These props can be anything from a platform that your cat sits on to a button they press with their paw. In fact, you can even be a prop for your cat's training! Tricks like high-five or nose to hand will get your cat started using you as a training prop.
Popular Cat Tricks
If your cat has already figured out the basics of trick training and you’re looking for something a little more advanced, you’re in the right place! There are many cool (and some useful!) tricks you can teach your cat when you put your mind to it.
Teaching your cat an awesome party trick is great for amazing your friends or for making an adorable viral video. Maybe you could teach your cat to jump up into your arms, do a backflip off a wall, or even ride a skateboard!
But trick training isn’t all about showing off. It can also be incredibly useful. You can teach your kitty to go into their carrier on command, saving you lots of time when getting ready for a visit to the vet! Or maybe your cat needs to shed a few pounds? Learning to run around a basic jumping course is a brilliant way to exercise and have fun with your cat at the same time.