We all know that dogs are intelligent and can be trained to do just about anything from simple commands to complex requests and helping people with disabilities. But did you know that cats are also trainable? Cats are very intelligent creatures. While most cannot be taught complex requests, you can certainly train your cat to do simple commands like “Sit” or “High Five.”
Your cat may be craving mental stimulation and welcome this new challenge. Training stimulates your cat’s mind, leaving them feeling enriched and tiring them out, making them less likely to perform common nuisance behaviors such as knocking things over due to boredom. Plus, training your cat can help strengthen your bond and reduce fear and aggression when interacting with other people.
One of the best positive reinforcement training tools is a clicker. The clicker uses a sound to communicate when something has been done right. And your pet can learn that hearing that sound leads to a reward, like their favorite treat. But they have to get used to the clicker and the loud noise it makes.
The first step to clicker training your cat, is to associate the “click,” with something positive, like high value treats. Every time you click you always follow with a treat. Click, treat and repeat so your feline friend gets used to the noise and can start to make the connection. Cats have shorter attention spans than dogs, so keep your training sessions short, just a few minutes at a time. Before you know it, your cat will begin eagerly awaiting a treat at the sound of the click!
Once your cat understands that the clicker sound is something they want to hear, it is time to advance to teaching basic behaviors like sit.
- When you have your cat’s attention, hold the clicker in one hand and a treat in the other right up to the cat’s nose.
- Say “Sit” and slowly raise the treat in an arc from their nose to right between their ears. Kitty will likely follow the treat’s motion with their eyes and nose, lifting it’s chin up and back and lowering their rear to the ground into a sit.
- As soon as their butt touches the ground, click, give them the treat and praise your cat with pets, kind words and attention.
- Repeat this for a few minutes each session or until your cat loses interest, whichever happens first.
Eventually, you can slowly fade out the clicks and treats as your cat sits upon command! Don’t forget to praise your cat plenty, even when you fade out the treats and clicker.
You can use this technique to train your cat an endless list of tricks like target touching, stay, wave, high five. You can even use this technique to change undesired behaviors, like scratching the furniture, into more desirable ones by clicking and treating when your cat chooses the desired behavior, like scratching the scratching post. Just remember that repetition, consistency and finding the right motivation are all keys to success!
Try this with your cat and let us know how it goes in the Comments.