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Not so Stupid Pet Tricks for Cats

By Natalia Macrynikola

Not so Stupid Pet Tricks for Cats

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 Macrynikola is a Group Editor at Studio One Networks, which publishes The Daily Cat.

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Posted on April 30, 2012

Saidrasool says: Kittys are good...if you have mice. We have the dog and cat partnership here. The dog pceotrts her and she chases mice. Sometimes they hunt together. Be sure to check the breed background before deciding which puppy (if you ever really get one). Our dog is a collie/border collie mix. I picked her for being a collie, but when the border collie was thrown in WOW! Her first 2 yrs. she was emotionally immature. Even with dog training we were perplexed. Then at age 2 she finally showed her stuff...fantastic dog now! Totally smart, loyal and responsive. We love her but it was a JOB those first 2 years.

Posted on March 18, 2012

Uskumbaeva says: From what I understand, Cat food has more "meaty" crudopts in it compared to dog food this is why sometimes dog's eat cat poop.also, I've heard that cats can eat dog food, but dogs shouldn't eat cat food. it'll upset their stomach. so your dog would probably get the runs.

Posted on April 29, 2011

Jane Chambers says: I have found that the secret to training a cat is to expect him to do whatever it is (like jump through a hoop or play dead). My cat loves to do tricks; we do them every morning, and he waits at the stairs until I have had my morning coffee. He is 16 years old and I teach him new tricks all the time (we're working on retrieving the treat from a clear container and pointing at the moment). He really enjoys it but doesn't always get it right. I just laugh when he gets it wrong--and we do it again. To him, it is just play! Peace to you all. Jane

Posted on January 12, 2010

Stephanie says: I've trained my cats to sit and beg. We call it "sit pretty." Our newest, Annabelle, came fully trained in "fetch." It doesn't work if we bring the ball to her though. She has to be in the mood. Annabelle brings us the ball and rubs against our leg. She will play most of the day like this. If you don't pick the ball up right away she bats it closer to you. it's really quite cute. We also play catch with our male, Jax. We throw the catnip mouse in the air and he either bats it back to us or catches it. Then he tosses it in the air towards us. Annabelle has just recently learned how to use the treat ball. She played with it methodically for about an hour until she got all of the treats out of it! She is so smart!

Posted on December 18, 2009

Ronda Piontkowski says: I thought it was great, put a good smile on my face and can'y wait to get home and start training him. Is it bad to just want my one and only babbee, I feel like his feelings would be hurt if I bing another cat in

Posted on January 3, 2010

bobby cook says: I have two cats Bob and hel cat the boy is name after me helcat is name after me wife and the both do great together, yes they like doing their own thing from time to time but to see them laying side by side looking at the TV and playing with each other is the best. Get your cat A friend.

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