ALL ABOUT DOGS and CATS   Resource Center for Canine & Feline Lovers
puppy and kitten
Pet Behavior - Feline Behavior
Not So Stupid Pet Tricks for Cats

By Natalia Macrynikola
Dogs often steal the spotlight when it comes to tricks
because cats are  “misunderstood when it comes to
training, enrichment and living a happy and healthy life
indoors,” says Cary Rentola of the Larimer Humane Society.
You may not be able to teach an old dog a new trick, but
you can teach your cat tricks commonly associated with
dogs.
The Benefits of Trick Training
Teaching new behaviors promotes a healthy lifestyle and helps relieve feline boredom while
offering cats mental exercise, says Cheryl Kolus, a Colorado State University veterinary
student and a volunteer with the Larimer Humane Society. Training also gives them an outlet
for instinctual behaviors. “When you’re working on a trick through positive training, it
becomes a bonding experience for you and your cat,” adds Rentola.

Trick Training How-to
Here are five fun tricks for your cat. Repeat a trick two to five times per session.

1.    Sit Move the treat up above cat’s head so your pet sits back. At the same time, say your
cat’s name along with “sit.” Once your cat assumes the position, click and offer treats and
praise.


2.    Beg Hold a treat over your cat's head so it has to sit up and reach with its paws to get
it. Say “beg” along with your pet’s name, and the moment kitty does something resembling
the trick, click and hand over the treat. Do this around three to five times, depending on the
cat's attention span. Then put the treat away and say “beg” again. If your cat performs the
trick without being asked, immediately offer praise and a treat.


3.    Fetch Toss a toy a few feet in front of you and let your cat run after it. As kitty rolls
around with it, walk over and offer praise. Take the toy and say thank you, then pet your cat
for a short while before throwing the toy again a little further. Retrieve the toy again as your
cat plays with it, and this time, return to your original position before throwing. Repeat the
procedure a few times, then give your cat a final rubdown and put the toy out of sight until
the next session. Conduct these training sessions at the same time each day, and your pet
will start anticipating this game. Every time you play, it will carry the toy closer and closer to
you.


4.    Play dead Call your cat to a place it enjoys. When it comes, offer a treat and say its
name in a soothing tone. Then put your hand on its back and say, “Play dead.” Gently press
down on your cat until it lies down. Praise and click before giving another treat. With enough
practice, your cat will learn to obey this command without your hand on its back.


5.    High five Hold a treat out of your cat’s reach, inviting your pet to sit in front of you. Once
kitty comes, say, "High five," and lower your hand. If your pet tries to get the treat with its
teeth, raise your hand out of its mouth’s reach. Kitty will then try to get the treat with its
paw. If the paw hits your palm, click, provide a treat and offer praise. If kitty doesn’t reach
for the treat, close your hand over the treat for five seconds, then try again from the start.

A few more important things to keep in mind as you train:

•Keep sessions short Cats have short attention spans, so train in a quiet place each time.


•Train before meals This is when your cat is most responsive. Be sure to break up treats into
smaller bits so your cat doesn’t end up overeating.


•Be patient Never yell at your cat, or “it will shy away from wanting to participate, no matter
how tasty the treat,” reminds Rentola.


•Time rewards correctly In the seconds it takes to reward a good behavior with a treat, kitty
may get distracted. “For all she knows, turning her head is what got her the reward,” says
Rentola. Eventually, your cat will respond to your voice alone.
•Repeat often Hold one or two five- to 10-minute sessions at scheduled times every day for
two to three weeks.
Despite their reputation, cats are very trainable and social. Teaching yours to obey your
commands will help debunk the myth that dogs are the only loyal pets. Just remember, as
Kolus says, “Patience, kindness and consistency are key.”
Natalia Macrynikoa  is an associate editor at Studio One Networks, which publishes The
Daily Cat. This spring, she'll be keeping her feline roommate, Freddy, safe indoors.