Everyone is familiar with the saying that you canÛªt teach an old dog new tricks. But what about teaching a cat ÛÒ one of any age ÛÒ to do some of the tricks that we expect our canine companions to perform? If youÛªve spent any time on YouTube or have joined the millions of ICanHasCheezburger.com fans, you know that cat owners everywhere are teaching their pets to sit, shake, fetchÛ_.and more. Given a little patience on your part, and using the right motivation, you too, can have your feline frolicking on command no time!
Cats differ from dogs in many ways, but they do share one common trait: when it comes to learning, they both perform best when rewarded with food. And just like humans, theyÛªll respond better to food if theyÛªre hungry. So it makes sense that the best time to begin a training session with your cat is when his or her tummy is empty, probably right before a meal. And just like you, your cat probably has a favorite treat. It might be a taste of canned food, a morsel of dry food, or even a small bite of ÛÏpeopleÛ food. Professional animal trainers use freeze-dried or dehydrated chicken, but you donÛªt need to buy special supplies to train your cat ÛÒ whatever your petÛªs favorite treat happens to be will work just fine. Keep the size of each reward small. After all, you donÛªt want to end up with an obese kitty that can perform tricks!
One of the most important tricks your cat can learn is to come when called. This is not only fun, it can be an important command when it comes to keeping your pet safe. Scent is also an important element in feline communication, so first let your cat smell the treat. Most cats already respond when called by name, so begin by saying, ÛÏFurry, come.Û Hold the treat where your cat can see it, and repeat the command until your kitty ventures over to get it. As soon as that happens, reward the behavior by giving your cat the treat. Cats donÛªt respond as much to physical reinforcement as do their canine counterparts, but you can also pet and praise your cat for Û÷obeyingÛª you if thatÛªs something that you know will work as an additional incentive. Once your cat has come at your command, take a few steps away and repeat this simple process until Furry comes as soon as she hears the command.
Once your cat has learned to sit, she can also be taught to beg and to shake hands. With your cat in ÛÏsit ÛÏposition, use the command ÛÏbegÛ or ÛÏplease,Û and hold the treat high enough over her head so that she must stretch to reach it.
Training Furry to shake hands also begins with her in ÛÏsitÛ position. Allow her to see or smell the treat, say either ÛÏshakeÛ or ÛÏgive pawÛ as you offer your other hand in front of her face, palm up at about eye level. In search of the treat, Furry will instinctively put her paw in your hand.