We stumbled across this adorable and very high-tech cat this week. His owner has rigged up a very cool gadget that means kitty has to hunt for his food. This is such a great way to keep a cat entertained and to scratch the itch of those hunting instincts, especially good for an indoor kitty who needs extra stimulation. Check it out here:
Now this got me thinking, my dog is pretty clued-up on his training. He is obedient (most of the time) and his favourite party piece is a high-five, which he actually does without command now whenever I come home. My cats, however, haven’t really been expected to do any tricks. In fact, I feel that, as most cat owner might agree, the cats have trained their humans in this house!
Undeterred by the feline hierarchy in my home, I decided to find some simple tricks to try out on my two, Max and Rosie.
This is the result of my research, the best tricks to teach your cat, starting with the simplest:
Teach your cat to come when called
No cat seems to have trouble coming to the sound of a tin of food being opened, but does your cat really know to come when its name is called? This is a simple way to get your cat training started. While undertaking any training use a room that has minimal distractions, and if you can do it just before mealtime, food treats will be appreciated more than ever.
Decide on your cue, like “Rosie, come!” and do it from a very short distance. Give the treat immediately, and then increase the distance slightly. Repetition is key, so keep it going and get that distance to increase a little more each time. Eventually, you will be able to do this without a treat as the cat begins to associate the task with a positive outcome.
Teach your cat to sit
Now that you have mastered a basic, you can start to move on to more complex tricks. This one is not too hard.
Show your cat that you have a treat and slowly lift it above her head so she has to crane its neck to see it. She might try to knock it out of your hand, if this happens, just calmly move the treat away. Eventually, she will get the message that you’re in charge.
She will naturally tend to want to sit in order to keep her balance while she tracks that treat. As soon as she does, say “Sit!” and give the reward. Again, time is of the essence so don’t miss a beat on giving her the reward. Repeat the process until she sits to the verbal command alone.
Teach your cat to high-five
Training your kitty to give you a high five is not too big a leap from learning to sit. Start by holding a treat just above her head. Hold it high enough that she needs to reach for it. As soon as she does, touch her paw, say “High Five!” and immediately give her the treat.
Teach your cat to jump through hoops
You can use this training principal to get your cat to go over, under or around obstacles. The method is luring. This is a great way to enrich a cat’s day by playing into the hands of their instincts to hunt.
Using a favourite treat or toy, hold the target object just far enough away that she has to move with it to track it and get the reward. Start with very small distances and build it up until you can have her weaving through cones or jumping through hoops. Being prompt with the reward is the only way your cat will associate the action with the positive effect so don’t leave any trick unrewarded for even a second.
No matter what the trick is, remember to keep your commands consistent, the rewards immediate and the whole process calm and fun. Never punish or get frustrated if kitty doesn’t get it right away. Patience and repetition will see you through. Tricks are a great way to promote bonding, keep your cat active and stimulated as well as help you create more cute cat videos – you know there will never be too many of those!
Want to keep an eye on you’re kitty while you’re away? Check out Cammy, the pet friendly security alternative