Can you teach cats tricks?
We generally associate cats with being independent and nonchalant creatures. Not exactly the type of animals that can be trained. So is it actually possible that you can teach cats tricks?
Many people who own cats don’t realise that just like a dog, a cat can be trained to do “tricks” too. It is possible for both kittens and older cats to be taught to make certain desired actions or exhibit specific behaviour.
This seems pretty exciting right? That you could have your cat doing movements on command that you might have only deemed possible for a dog to do.
Some cats will take a fair bit longer than other cats to be able to pick up on the tricks that you are trying to teach them. This is because of their differing personality types. Expect to give your cat plenty of time (weeks) to start to show the desired results from your time put in to trying to train them!
So next on your mind might be “Ok, so now that I know I can teach my cat tricks, what tricks can I actually teach them to do?”.
Well with that in mind, lets now look into the types of tricks that can be taught to cats.
This is a great first trick to teach your cat! All that the end result requires, is that your cat sits down on command. How difficult could that be?
As with most tricks, the easiest and most effective method of getting your cat to do this trick is to lure them with the reward of getting food after the act. The cat isn’t going to be able to respond perfectly from the word go, however it is a good thing to remember that whenever your cat makes a movement that is progressing towards the desired result, then you can offer them the reward which in turn begins an association with a certain movement getting a treat.
Firstly it is best to hold your cat’s treat a little above their head. If the cat reaches out with its paws then you can say “no” and pull the food away. When you put the food back over the cat’s head, you can slowly move the food over and towards the back of the cat whilst saying the word “sit”. This movement of taking the treat towards the cat’s tail will naturally move the cat into a sitting motion.
Remember that not all cats will respond the way you want so quickly. After all, they don’t actually know what you are trying to make them do in the first place!
The key is that when your cat actually makes a movement towards the sitting motion, you should immediately feed them the treat. They will begin to realise that their motion of sitting when hearing the word “sit” has always resulted in a treat! Bingo, your cat has learnt their first trick!
The high five is the next step from teaching your cat to sit. You can even teach your cat to do both at the same time!
You can teach you cat to high five in a similar way to the previous trick, except this time we want to be holding their favourite treat higher and maybe slightly forward of the cat so that they have to reach out to get it.
When your cat does reach out, you can put your hand forward so that you connect with their paw and at the same time say “gimme five!”. So again, as you may have noticed, the main idea here is to coax the initial action by using the lure of food. And when your cat does touch your hand, that is the time to give them the treat.
You can start by feeding your cat the treat as soon as they make the reaching motion and progress to the touching of hand and paw as you go along!
Give me a twirl!
For this simple trick, idea is to persuade your cat to be able to turn a full circle pretty much on the spot on command.
As before we first want to get our furry friend’s favourite treat in hand, start by holding it near to their nose and then move your hand with the treat around them causing your cat to naturally turn to follow the treat. As you are doing this, you can tell them to “spin around”. When your cat has done a full circle, you can offer them the treat as a reward.
With this trick, you want to move you hand away from the cat as time goes by and they get used to the motion of seeing your hand move in a circular fashion. The end result should be that you can just move your hand (with finger pointed) in a small circular motion, and then the cat will spin before receiving their treat!
Jump onto the chair
This trick is one to teach your cat as long as you’re happy with them jumping onto a chair. Some of you may not want teach that sort of behaviour as regular occurrence.
This trick is best done on a simple wooden chair. First place your cat’s favourite treat onto the chair very clearly for them to see, and then let them jump up to get the treat. As you do this, make sure to make a pointing motion to the chair. This way they begin the initial association between jumping on the chair and being rewarded with tasty food.
As time goes on, you can then ‘pretend’ to put the treat on the chair by making the motion of putting it there. When your cat then jumps up, immediately call out to your cat and hand them the food that they didn’t find on the chair.
If done correctly over enough time, you should be able to eventually just point at the chair and your cat will jump up and wait for the treat. You can also try to mix this trick with the first “sitting” trick and then your cat will seem like it is being really obedient!
Run/jump through a hoop
So you know you can teach your cats tricks, but can you teach them something that looks like it might have come out of a circus?
This trick first requires you to find a toy that your cat likes to play with. No you want to coax your cat to walk up to and touch the toy. When your cat does this, you can then give your cat a tasty treat reward.
As all of these tricks, the initial linking of treat to action or object is the key to the beginnings of your cat doing the trick. When your cat really picks up the association with the toy and getting a reward when they walk up to and touch it, you can start to use the small hoop to put between your cat and the toy.
At first your cat may seem resistant and wary to walking through the hoop, so ensure that the treat is held clearly on the other side of the hole. Then you can reward you cat with the treat when they finally walk through the hoop.
Keep in mind that it will still take a lot of attempts before your cats begins to show the consistent behaviour of walking through the hoop.
Well now we know the answer to the question “Can you teach cats tricks?” is a big YES!
We hope you can have some fun times teaching your cats the tricks mentioned in this article and maybe you can even come up with some ideas for tricks of your own! Your cat’s favourite treat is usually to the end result, whichever tricks you teach them!
Also, don’t be surprised if you find your cat doing these tricks without even being commanded to! Cats are clever and when they know they can get a treat from a certain action, they may not hesitate to do it of their own volition!
Makes sure that you do not shout or punish cats for making a wrong move, this will only confuse and scare them. Positive actions are the way forward!