People have been training cats to do tricks for years, but it’s becoming more and more popular for helping to fix behaviour problems, to work our cat’s minds and even just for fun and to bond. Since training cats is still pretty new, I have lots of people look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest they train their kitty to sit, down, stay, or any other trick that you would teach a dog. It makes me giggle a little. Cats can be trained, we just have to start thinking like them!
Like I’ve said countless times, cats aren’t dogs, so training cats is a wee bit different. Most cats won’t do something just to please you, they need to know what’s in it for them, and what’s in it for them is tasty treats! Always use your cat’s most favourite treat while training and make sure they are hungry, so no free feeding or treating outside of training session.
Along with treats comes clicks! Clicker training is a cat trainer’s best friend (other than the cats themselves of course). Clicker training is simple and is yet the most effective way to train cats. Since us humans are pretty slow sometimes to get treats to our cat’s mouths we teach our cats that a click means that they did what they were supposed to and now they just need to wait for their clumsy human to give them their reward. It’s always behaviour performed, click, and then treat!
Depending on your cat, there are two ways to train them to do a trick, they are luring and capturing. Luring is when you put a treat in front of your cat’s nose and lure them into the position you want tot rain, like sit or down. Luring a cat can be tough though, so that’s why we have capturing as well. Capturing is when you treat your kitty for doing something naturally, so if you see your cat about to sit her butt down, you would treat her as soon as she sits. Capturing works a lot more nicely for stubborn kitties, but it can only be done to teach commands that are natural for cats to do.
Lastly, patience is key, as it is for training and teaching any living being. Progress is always slow at first, but once you and your cat have the basics down, you’ll both be flying through tricks that you can show off!