When it comes to training your pet to do tricks, most people picture training a dog, and not a cat. The truth is, cats are not untrainable, and training them is pretty similar to how you train a dog. You can actually train a cat to perform a lot of different tricks with patience and effort. If you have these qualities, afterwards, your cat will have several tricks down pat that he can do. Every cat is different. Some cats are easier to train than others, and they are motivated by different means. Some train better using affection as the reward, while others learn better when they are working for a treat. This type might be a bit more challenging to train, but still, they are trainable. Only you know your cat the best and you may need to take a break and evaluate the situation if you feel like your cat might need more patience, time and effort that you can give him.
Things you keep in your mind when embarking on training your cat for tricks
- Stock up on good rewards: Whether your cat tends to work better when offered love and affection or special treats, be prepared to offer whatever gets him motivated. Some food reward ideas may include, your cat’s favorite packaged snack, tuna, wet cat food, or cooked, cubed chicken pieces. Whatever food treat you use, be sure to only use it as a reward for training so that he knows he will receive it strictly for listening and following direction.
- Commit yourself: Commit yourself to training your cat, but by taking steps with the training of a new trick. Rather than trying to teach your cat the entire new trick, break it into easy steps that he can work towards over a period of time. This takes time and effort and you will need to commit yourself to taking your time and going step-by-step.
- Pace yourself: It may take months for your cat to master a new trick so no need to rush. Break training times into small increments; if you can only work on a new trick five minutes a day, dedicate that five minutes to your cat and his new trick. Maybe your cat does well working for fifteen minutes a day, but be consistent. You may need to alter your training times as you see how he handles it. Keeping that in mind, it is recommended you cap the training time at fifteen minutes to help avoid fatigue for both of you.
The main thing is, that you want to give your cat the best chances of succeeding, so be flexible and willing to change training methods and times as you need to. Deva, on Adopt, Don’t Shop, has shared how she switched her training techniques to better fit her cat, Garbanzo.
She has said that when she started training Garbanzo how to jump through a hoop, she used to hold the hoops with her hands, and her hands smelled like treats. Garbanzo started to follow her hands and try to bite them instead of hopping through the hoop. She obviously did not want to get him started on a bad behavior that he was being rewarded for, so she had to change that method and began using a stand for the hoop and gave him more space.
Something else to keep in mind is that when you train a cat to do tricks, they may learn the trick very well, but cats are finicky and moody, which means that you may not always be able to get your cat to perform his tricks every time, on cue, like you’d like. If he does not want to perform a trick at a time you try to persuade him to, just try again at a later time.
Tricks you may want to try
You may not be familiar with what types of tricks cats can learn, so here are a few good ideas you can choose from.
- Shake: Yes, like a dog that hands you his paw on the command of “shake,” a cat can learn this too. Teach him to hand you his paw when you give him the command, “shake.”
- Harness and leash: Some cats actually enjoy taking walks on a leash, and you can work your way up to walking your cat on a harness and leash by training him, first, to wear the harness comfortably and gradually work your way up to walking on a leash.
- Name recognition: Cats aren’t known to be the best at coming when they’re called, and actually tend to outright ignore you. Whether it’s intentional that they don’t seem to listen when called or not, training them to come when they hear their name can be very helpful in every day life. If your cat happens to slip out the door, gets in harm’s way, or you just want him to come snuggle with you, getting your cat to come when called is a trick with benefits.
- Jump through hoops: This is a trick that people love to see. Cats are so graceful and when they jump through a hoop, it looks like a trick you had to really work for. This is a fun trick for both the cat and owner, and over time, you can replace the hoop for your circled arms, to change the trick up a bit.
When your cat does what you ask him to do during the training process, be sure to use the same praise word to let him know he is doing what you want. A word like, “yes,” or “good,” is often used to confirm he is on cue with his performance.