This article is contributed by guest writer, Jackie B.
How to Teach a Cat New Tricks
Most cat owners perceive their feline friend as a-hard-to-train pet who prefers napping and exploring. Well, you will be pleased to know that your cat is trainable. All you need is lots of consistency and persistence. Training is actually essential for your feline friend as it strengthens your bond and protects them from emerging dangers. With that in mind, here are our expert tips on how to teach your cat tricks.
1. Treat Your Cat
You need to reward your cat with tasty treats to motivate them to learn a new trick. Keep the training sessions interesting by giving your cat a variety of rewards in short sessions. Some good examples of suitable treats include diced chicken, small pieces of dry foods or bits of tuna.
2. Get Your Cat’s Attention
According to We’re All About Cats, you should only train your cat when they aren’t tired or distracted. You can also train your pet when they are a little hungry, as the treats will make the sessions appealing. To get your cat’s attention, start by rewarding them. If your pet seems disinterested, try again later when your cat is less distracted.
3. Use a Pet Clicker
A pet clicker is a small hand-held device that makes a distinct clicking sound when compressed. Every time your cat does as instructed, press the clicker for the clicking sound and reward them. Your cat will learn to associate the clicking sound with a reward. Repeat this 5-10 times in a row, treating your cat each time he or she completes a trick. Repeating this trick encourages your cat to learn the behavior.
4. Make the Training Sessions Frequent and Short
Your cat will master new tricks much more easily if you train them frequently. Repeat the same trick several times a day, making sure to hold your cat’s attention. The training sessions should be brief and not go beyond five minutes. Always end the session on a positive note and ensure your pet is enjoying the activities.
5. One Trick at a Time
Praising and giving your cat treats as they learn a trick helps them master a behavior. Try to teach your cat one trick at a time to avoid confusion. Only move to the next trick after your feline friend has mastered the last one.
6. Don’t Punish Your Cat for Failing to Learn a Trick
Your cat will learn a trick faster if you reward them. Punishing or scolding your cat when they can’t complete an activity only serves to make your pet stressed or disinterested. Never force your cat to do something they don’t want. If they do something wrong during a session, take a break and try again later.
Specific Tricks to Teach Your Cat
While these six tips will help you teach your cat new tricks, here is how to help your pet master a few specific tricks:
- Sit: Hold a treat in front of your cat’s face and slowly move it between its ears while on its fours. Your cat will follow the treat and end up sitting to get it. When your cat sits, reinforce this positive behavior by rewarding them. Repeat the training until your cat gets it right. Add the command ‘Sit’ right before your cat sits.
- High-Five: First, you need to encourage your cat to lift its paw off the ground. You may achieve this by holding a treat above your cat’s nose and wait for it to reach the treat using its paw. Add a command word while praising your cat. Then, wrap the reward in your fist and wait for your cat to grab it out of your hand using its paws. Reward your cat by giving it the treat after grabbing it off your fist successfully. Repeat the trick several times, lifting your hand higher each time until the trick resembles a high-five.
- Fetch: Rub some water from a tuna can on your cat’s favorite toy. Throw the toy out of reach triggering your cat’s natural hunting skills. Praise your cat when it walks towards or picks the toy. Treat your cat when it grabs the toy and brings it back. You need to be patient during this session. Repeat the process until your cat can easily retrieve the toy and add the word ‘Fetch.’
- Come: Train your cat to come when called by their name, especially during mealtimes. You can call your cat by name and get its attention by tapping the food bowl. Praise and give your pet a treat when it comes as commanded. Repeat the trick and add the command ‘Come’ when your cat masters this trick.
In conclusion, training your cat new tricks requires patience and creativity. Always reward your cat as soon as he or she performs the desired action to motivate them to learn new tricks. Good luck!