Think only dogs can learn clever tricks? Guess again!
With time, patience, and positive reinforcement, cats can master all kinds of impressive stunts too.
Unlike their canine counterparts, cats won’t work for mere praise – tasty incentives are a must.
Follow these expert tips for training your purr-forming pro.
What Treats Motivate Best?
First, experiment to find which rewards your cat goes bonkers for when earning tricks. Sensible options include:
- Freeze-dried chicken or tuna bites – crumble into tiny, kitty-bite-sized morsels
- Meat-based baby food or squeeze-tube treats – let them lick
- Tiny kibble pieces like Friskies Party Mix – shake for excitement
- Catnip flakes or sparkly silvervine sticks – stimulate their senses
Try out a buffet station of each during initial sessions to determine your kitty’s personal preferences.
Establish a Conditioned Reinforcer
Manually treating after every repetition is slow. Instead, “charge up” a conditioned reinforcer: a unique sound that predicts treats are coming!
- Make clicking noises with your tongue or use a pet training clicker. Click, then immediately treat to build the association.
- Once your cat expects treats upon hearing clicks, you can deliver treats less frequently by clicking first, then tossing a bonus jackpot after every 2-5 repeats. It buys time while keeping your cat engaged!
Tricks to Teach Your Cat
Now let the trick training begin! Perform these steps for all stunts:
- Show treats to capture the kitty’s attention.
- Lure them with treats as you introduce physical prompts.
- Say verbal cues like “Sit!” when prompting action.
- Wean off luring so cue alone triggers the behavior.
- Click and reward every repetition at first.
Having your cat dash over and sit attentively beside you looks ultra-obedient!
- Show treats so kitty walks towards you, click, reward upon approach
- Take a few steps back, and repeat the sequence until responding well to “Come!”
Who says only dogs can sit on command?
- Hold treat overhead until kitty tips head up and sink – click, treat!
- Repeat with verbal “Sit!” cue until posture happens automatically
- Tap kitty’s nose, click, treat to associate paw lift with a reward
- Form paw into high five shapes on your flat palm, click, treat
- Say “High five!” right as you offer flat palm until kitty independently lifts paw
Jump Through Hoop
Let your cat release their inner circus star!
- Hold hula hoop low, lure through a hoop with a treat to the far side, click, treat after exit
- Toss bonus treats through the hoop so they walk/jump through independently
- Add “Hup!” verbal cue for hoop antics
Not many cats can master the vaunted rollover – prepare for cuteness overload!
- Gently guide kitty into laying on side by showing a treat, click, treat
- Repeat the luring motion to flip completely onto the back, click, treat after roll
- Say “Roll over!” as you start the luring process until the kitty connects the dots
With dedication, even notoriously aloof or stubborn cats can pull off entertainment-worthy moves.
Consistency, short sessions, and irresistible rewards are key to channeling your cat’s natural dexterity into all kinds of fun feats!