When we talk about training pets, most of us think of dogs sitting patiently waiting for a treat for a job well done. But did you know you can also train your cat?
Because cats are independent and like to do things in their own time, you will need to be patient and remember, some cats will be more eager to learn than others. But if you think your cat is ready for it, why not give it a go?
To start you’ll need to be prepared to set aside time every day for training. Doing it irregularly just won’t yield any results. Teach just one trick at a time. When your cat masters one trick, you can then move on to teaching her another.
Like dogs, cats will be motivated by treats such as scratches and praise, a favourite toy or food. As the owner, you’ll know what the best motivator will be. And as with training dogs, you should lessen the use of treats as the cat gets used to commands. After some time, a quick pat for a job well done is more than enough.
When training, do so in a quiet room (turn off the TV and music and ask other members of the family to leave). That way there will be no distractions. An easy trick to learn is to sit. In the first session, wait until your cat sits and then say, “sit”, praise her and then give her a treat. After a few goes, introduce a hand signal, such as holding up your index finger. A few days of this sort of training will soon get her in the habit of sitting on command.
You can then move on to teaching her to high five. During your training session, watch your cat and when she moves her paw, praise her and give her a treat. Show her another treat and then pop the treat in your palm and make a fist. She should try to use her paw to grab it. When she does, give her praise and the treat as a reward. Do this a few more times, each time lifting your hand higher and higher. Each time she touches your hand, reward her and say, “high five”. Once she becomes used to this, you can then start opening your hand and saying “high five”, then giving her a treat when she touches your palm.
Remember to keep training sessions short and don’t be discouraged if a session doesn’t go so well – you can always try again tomorrow.