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Who says dogs have all the fun? Cats can be just as smart, fun and full of personality. I like to tell people that my male cat is a medium-sized dog. Not just because he’s a big cat that wears a size medium in dog clothes (yes, my cat has a wardrobe and dresses up every year for Halloween and holidays), but because he acts like one too.
When he was a kitten, my cat’s signature party trick was to play fetch. I’d throw one of his favorite fuzzy mice anywhere in the house, and he would go in a mad dash in that direction, retrieve it, bring it right back to me and drop it at my feet. Then I’d get the “Do it again, Mommy!” look. Throw, fetch, repeat.
To teach my cat how to fetch, I started when he was young. He had a few favorite toys that he would always choose to play with. I threw the mice across the room and he soon learned that if he brought them back, playtime would go on.
Think fetching is a pretty basic trick that any animal can learn? Maybe. But what if I told you he can also shake on command and give you a high paw? These took a little more patience and time for him to learn. We did it just like you’d teach a dog to do tricks: with treats.
The secret to “Shake” is to put the treat in your hand and have your cat put its paw in to get it. You cat’s first instinct will be to grab the treat with its mouth, but if you lift your hand higher, your pet will have to reach up to either push your hand down or knock it out. Once your kitty’s paw is in your palm, hold it and give it a little shake and say “Shake!” Repetition is key, and soon your pet will learn what “Shake” means -- and that it’ll get a treat for doing the trick.
“High paw” is just cat-talk for “High five.” This is done similar to “Shake,” but you don't hold your cat’s paw; you just tap it with your hand. Like “Shake,” repetition and treat rewards are important.
Tricks aside, cats are like dogs in other ways too. My favorite thing my two cats do is meet me at the door when I get home, just like dogs would. Both of them are the first things I see -- tails high and happy -- when I walk in. I pet them before even putting my purse down, to let them know I love the behavior and to make sure they keep coming back for more.
Cats reach full skeletal development when they are this old: