How to Teach a Cat Tricks: Benefits, Tips, & 5 Tricks to Try
Teaching your cat fun tricks is an exciting part of being a cat parent. Cats are very trainable as long as cat owners know the right motivation and training process their feline friend needs.
Keep reading to learn:
- Why you should train your cat
- The benefits of cat training
- 5 tips for training your cat
- Easy tricks to teach your cat
Why you should train your cat
Cats are not bred to cooperate or communicate with their pet parents. Unlike dogs, cats are also not bred to perform working roles like hunting, herding, and guarding.
But, pet parents can train their cats to make life simpler and easier. Like dogs, cats need support and training to live alongside their humans.
5 benefits of cat training
1. Strengthens your bond with your pet.
It’s important to spend quality time with your cat and teach them tricks. Engaging your cat in a fun, enrichment activity every day will strengthen the bond between you and your kitty.
Like dogs, most cats enjoy learning impressive tricks. Both you and your pet will walk away from each session feeling closer than before.
2. Boosts relationships with other pets.
It can be hard for your kitty to acclimate to being around other animals. If you are bringing a new cat into your home, it is beneficial to incorporate training into their schedule.
Certain methods help ease the tension. A well-trained cat:
- Plays more safely
- Keeps busy
- Is less likely to fight with other pets
3. Helps cats acclimate to your home.
Through training, your cat will learn to be well-behaved and stay safe from potential hazards in your home. It also teaches your cat how to play and meet their wants and needs without making a mess.
As an example, kittens like to scratch. So, provide your cat with options for places to scratch such as:
- Cat trees
- Scratching posts
- Wall scratchers
Teaching your kitty to use these items will show your cat where they are allowed to scratch. You can also use training to instill behaviors in your kitty like using their litter box.
4. Combats boredom.
If your cat exhibits behaviors like avoiding their litter box, it might be a sign of boredom. A bored cat may be at risk of becoming depressed, overweight, and destructive.
Regular training is a great way to combat boredom in cats. Frequent sessions provide your cat with regular activity to keep them busy and out of trouble.
5. Supports their health.
Cats need to exercise their minds and bodies. Frequent training sessions stimulate your cat's mind and teach them to problem solve.
Keeping your cat's mind and body active through training will boost their health. Plus, it will encourage your cat to stay active and busy on their own.
5 tips for training your cat
Teaching your cat tricks can be a difficult task for pet parents. But, if you take the right approach, teaching sessions can be fun for both parties.
Before you start to teach your cat tricks, keep these tips in mind.
1. Collect the right tools.
Before you begin training, it’s important to gather the tools and supplies needed to train your kitty. A few essential tools you can use during your training sessions include:
- A clicker
- Your cat's favorite treats
- A target stick
- A floor mat
- A crate or cat carrier
2. Keep training sessions short.
Short sessions keep your pet from losing interest while training. As a general rule of thumb, have up to two sessions per day. And, make sure to keep your sessions under 5 minutes at a time.
Young kittens do not have the same patience as older cats. But with enough practice and a few sessions, your cat will enjoy learning simple tricks.
3. Use positive reinforcement.
Cats should receive positive, reward-based training. Punishment can be harmful to your cat because it creates stress in your cat.
A stressed cat opens the door for problem behaviors like:
- Urinating outside their litter box
- Excessive meowing
- Destruction like chewing or scratching furniture
Every cat learns at different paces so be sure to provide your cat with lots of positive reinforcement before moving on to the next trick. This includes praise, pets, and treats. This will keep your cat's attention on you.
4. Reward with high-value treats.
It can be hard to keep your cat motivated while you are teaching tricks. The key is having the right incentive for your pet.
A motivator for your cat is an item that encourages your cat's cooperation. With the right motivator, your cat should be fully alert for your entire training session.
Some popular motivators for cats include:
- Crinkly toys
- Objects with bells
- Crumpled paper bags
- Cardboard boxes
- High-value treats
High-value treats keep most cats interested in learning new tricks. So, be sure to reward your cat with a high-value treat after every trick.
Diced chicken or canned tuna are great options for high-value treats. If your cat does not treat or is food motivated, you can use playtime with their favorite toy as a reward.
5. Try out clicker training.
Using a clicking sound while you train your kitty can help them better understand tricks. Cat owners can use a clicker or anything else that makes a clicking noise to train their cats.
When your cat does a trick correctly, click and treat. After a few times, your cat will recognize the clicker noise as positive reinforcement. For repetition, click and reward every time.
5 of the easiest tricks to teach your cat
Now that you know the benefits of trick training and tips to train your cat, you are ready to start teaching your cat tricks. Here are 5 easy tricks to try with your cat.
"Sit" is a simple trick, taught the same for dogs as it is for cats. It can be beneficial to teach your cat to sit before meals, going outdoors, and during playtime.
How to teach your cat to sit
With your cat in front of you, hold a treat slightly in front of your cat's nose. Slowly move the treat toward the back of your cat's head. Your cat will lift their head to follow the treat.
As your cat's nose follows the treat backward, they should sit naturally. Incorporate the cue word "sit" as soon as your cat moves into a sitting position.
As soon as your cat sits, reward them with a tasty treat. Repeat this same technique until your cat sits with the cue word "sit."
Many cats learn this great trick quickly when you give plenty of positive reinforcement and treats. This trick is great for when you need your cat to stay away from possible dangers.
If you have an outdoor cat, this trick can be beneficial when it’s time to feed your cat. Instead of going outside and finding your kitty, you can train them to come when called.
How to train your cat to come here
Toss a treat to put your cat a few feet away from you. Then, call your cat and say the command "here" or "come." When your cat comes to you, reward them with an incentive.
For indoor cats, their incentive might be a treat or playtime. For outdoor cats, their incentive could be a meal. Repeat this process until your cat understands the command and comes when called.
3. High-five or paw.
This trick is not essential to training. But, it is a fun trick to teach your cat. It's especially fun to have your cat give their paw to family and friends.
How to teach your cat to give a paw
With your cat in front of you, hold a treat in front of them at shoulder height. Your cat may try to paw at your hand with their front paws to get the treat. Continue holding the treat in front of them until this happens.
When your cat's paw touches your hand, say the command "high five" or "paw" and reward them with a treat. Repeat this method until you can get your cat to touch your hand with their paw after hearing the one-word cue.
Like dogs, teaching your cat tricks like spin can be fun for social settings or playtime at home.
How to teach a cat to spin
Get your cat's attention with a treat or tell them to "come." Holding a treat at eye level, slowly move the treat around to the side of your cat toward their hind legs.
Your cat will follow the treat, turning around in a circle. After your cat completes a full spin, say the command "spin." Then, reward them with praise and treats. Repeat this process until your cat learns to spin after hearing the command.
This trick isn't for dogs. You can also train your cat to fetch things like toys and other items in exchange for a treat.
How to teach a cat to fetch
To start, you will need an item that is desirable for your kitty to pick up off the floor. You can use a treat or make one of your cat’s toys more desirable. To do this, rub some liquid from a can of tuna or another tasty food your cat loves onto one of your cat's toys.
Throw it out of reach of your cat and say the command "fetch." The smell of the cat treat should lure your cat to the toy. If your cat walks to the toy or picks it up, reward them with praise and treats.
It may take a few sessions until your cat learns to fetch on command. So, be patient while you train your cat to fetch.
Teaching your cat tricks takes patience and persistence. Most cats enjoy learning tricks if their cat parents take the right approach.
If cat parents move on to other tricks too quickly, their feline friends can become overwhelmed with the training process. So, remember to take things one trick at a time.
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