Dogs aren’t the only animals that can learn tricks. Cats can do it too, it just takes a little patience and diligence.
When we think of learning tricks, we usually think of dogs. Trained cats don’t usually come to mind. But kittens of all ages can be trained to do tricks. The “trick” to training your cat is to know that you can’t do it the same way a dog can.

Why teach your cat tricks?

Teaching your cat tricks has a greater purpose than just vacation entertainment for his friends. It contributes to your cat’s well-being by reducing stress, boredom and associated negative behaviors. Learning tricks stimulates their brain and mental acuity; active minds have more neural connections and better brain function. Trick training is also an exercise to burn energy and calories.

Eating: The reward of motivation

Dogs and cats are motivated by the things that benefit them the most (aren’t we all?). Dogs are better at reading our signals and are eager to please us in exchange for a reward. Cats are not programmed to please, so it is important to determine what their motivating reward is. Studies show that the fastest way to train a cat is through the stomach, with small portions of quality food, such as chicken or tuna. Small portions are consistent with the way a cat normally eats and help keep daily caloric intake low. For maximum motivation, it’s best to exercise your cat when she’s hungry. Don’t starve your cat, of course, but do exercise between meals.

Like dogs, cats learn best when positive reinforcement is used for the desired behavior. Negative reinforcement, such as hitting or yelling, is not only inhumane, it doesn’t work. It teaches the cat to avoid the person and associates the behavior, situation or location with fearful emotions.

3 Training Tips

  1. Be patient
    You are in cat time, not human or dog time. Not every cat learns every trick. He must enjoy learning. Teach your cat one trick at a time until she masters it before adding a new one. If you or your cat is tired or frustrated, leave it for the day.
  2. Be diligent
    Work with your cat every day; sporadic training doesn’t work. Keep the sessions short, about 15 minutes per session, and end on a positive note as long as your cat remains interested. Stop before she gets excited and starts grabbing with her paws and claws. Watch for signs such as dilated pupils, flattened ears, ruffled fur and tail wagging. Vary the time of day and location of training so that the trick is learned regardless of time and place.
  3. Be consistent
    Say your cat’s name first, then the instruction. Be consistent with the words you use and the rewards so as not to confuse your cat. Don’t say “high five” one day and “high fist” another day. Rewards should be given until the trick is completely learned, then at regular intervals.

Try to teach him these tricks.

Teaching your cat to high-five is also easier than you think. Just pick a name for the trick and stick to it, whether it’s high-five, high-five, high-finger or high-five fist.

  • Start by encouraging small paw movements when your cat naturally lifts a paw off the ground, and give her a treat.
  • Hold a treat in your closed hand, wait for your cat to reach for it, and then give the treat as a reward.
  • Gradually bring your hand up; when your cat touches it with a paw, give the treat as a reward.

These are just two examples of tricks you can teach your cat. Cats are smart and can be easily trained with positive reinforcement. It also reduces stress, combats boredom and provides mental and physical stimulation while deepening the bond between you and your cat. With patience, diligence and consistency, you and your cat will soon be able to amaze your family and friends with clever cat tricks.

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