They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you know what? You can teach a cat new tricks at any age! There is a popular misbelief that cats aren’t able to be trained in the same fashion that dogs are. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that your feline friends aren’t capable of being taught impressive moves. There are plenty of tricks for cats to learn with ease, and you’ll likely come to find that some have very practical uses.
Whether you’re interested in learning so that you can form a closer connection with your pet, or you know that your kitty is one that needs some extra stimulation, these tricks will be a surefire way to accomplish either of those goals.
Is It Hard To Train A Cat?
There are certainly those who believe that training cats is impossible. But, it’s just more difficult than training a dog. While dogs are naturally eager to please, at least most dog breeds, cats don’t have anything to prove to you. Instead of being motivated by your approval, cats are motivated by another thing: Reward.
Reward-based training is the key to getting your cat to listen to you. Positive reinforcement alone is the key to their feline hearts, and discipline won’t get you anywhere. Cats, at their core, are creatures that command respect. If you’re someone who sneaks up on your cat, scoops them up without notice, or frequently yells at them, chances are they won’t want to do anything you tell them to. But, if you take the time to gain the respect and trust of your cat, they will be incredibly receptive to learning whatever it is you’d like to teach them.
Fun Tricks to Teach Your Cat
Before we start teaching you all of the tricks for your cat to impress you with, there are a few tips that you could probably benefit from knowing. While every cat is different, this advice is fairly universal and could potentially help you and your feline make some progress in no time at all.
- Try incorporating hand movements into the tricks, because cats are very visually receptive.
- Maintain your training on a schedule, as cats enjoy routine.
- Don’t drag out training sessions, or get frustrated with your cat. Keep the sessions short, about fifteen minutes in length, and then try again later in the day.
- Don’t confuse your cat by trying to teach them multiple tricks at the same time.
- Keep it consistent- try to have at least one training session with your cat each day.
Now that you know the fundamentals of training a cat, it’s time to put this knowledge into use! Here are ten of the most fun (and useful) tricks to teach your cat.
An oldie but a goodie, one of the most simple tricks for your cat to learn is to sit. This has a number of uses and is great for things like getting their attention, making sure they wait out of the way during mealtime, and having them behave at the vet’s office. It’s an incredibly popular first command because of its simplicity.
The easiest way to teach them this command is to use the single verbal command “sit,” while moving your hand in a downward motion. You might need to move a bit around the room while you’re teaching this trick because obviously your cat can’t be told to sit if they’re already sitting down someplace.
Much like sitting, there are a number of reasons why you might need your cat to stay. Perhaps someone is entering the house, and you’re worried your cat is going to run through the open door. Or, if there’s some kind of accident during which you spill liquid or glass on your floor, you can command them to stay out of the way across the room. If there’s one thing that cats love, it’s going where you don’t want them to. So, having them stay put someplace is always going to be beneficial.
The easiest way to teach this trick is to make sure that your cat has fully grasped the “sit” command. Since they know to sit, they can be taught to stay. After they’ve sat down, instead of immediately giving them the treat, tell them to stay while slowly moving away. Once you’ve gone across a decent length of distance, place the treat on the ground in front of you and cheerfully tell them they’ve done a good job and can come get it.
3. Come Here
The opposite of stay, but just as essential, is “come here.” As we’ve established, cats love to wander. That’s why it’s so important that they know to come when called. This is especially important if you allow your cat to occasionally explore the outdoors. If there are ever other people walking by, or even worse, other animals, it’s important that you have the authority to call your cat to your side. If you ever come home and can’t find your cat, it’s also a way to quickly locate them without having to look too hard.
The “come here” command has the potential to be taught in tandem with the “stay” command. These tricks for your cat are very similar and play hand-in-hand. Once your cat has successfully stayed, you can use the come here command to indicate that they’ve done well. Then, you can start using that command outside of your “stay” training sessions. Eventually, they’ll learn to come when called.
4. High Five
Admittedly, this next trick has very little practical applications. But, who cares? Sometimes, you just want to show your cat some cool moves so you can show them off to your friends. The “high five” command is one such trick.
In order to teach your cat to high five, a good first step is to manually grab their paw and meet their paw with your hand (gently, of course). After a while of doing this, your cat should be able to catch onto what the movement and command mean.
The “spin” command is one that not every cat can learn, especially if they’re old or disabled. That’s because it is, for lack of a better term, physically demanding. When you tell your cat to spin, they should get onto their two hind legs and walk in a circular, almost spinning motion. It’s a tough one to teach them, but it’s also quite rewarding, and certainly a party trick that will impress any guest.
6. Lie Down
This next trick is one that can be practical. If you ever need to clip your cat’s nails, for instance, or apply medication to their ears or eyes. This command is, of course, to “lie down.”
Once you’ve taught your cat to sit, which is one of the most basic commands to teach them, this next part is a breeze. Instead of moving the treat in a downward motion, lay it on the ground and point down at it. This indicates to the cat that, in order to get the treat, they also need to get down low!
7. Roll Over
Rolling over is another one of those tricks for your cat that will do fantastically at parties. That’s partially because it’s just plain impressive, but also because it’s traditionally known as a “dog trick.” But hey, anything that a dog can do, a cat can do just as well!
One of the most complex tricks on this list, this is a multi-step ordeal. The first order of business is being able to teach your cat to lie down, which we just explained. Now that they’re on the ground, you have to implement the next command, which is to roll over. To do so, one of the best methods is to move the treat in a spinning, circular motion while telling them to roll over. Even if they’re initially only getting onto their back, still give them verbal encouragement. Only give up the treat, though, once they’ve gone all the way around.
If your cats are anything like mine, they don’t need to be prompted to have an excuse to use their strong meows. But, it’s pretty neat to be able to get them to talk to you on command. The “speak” command is one of the more advanced ones on this list, but it’s worth the effort.
Just begin to talk to your cat, and wait for a response. Eventually, they will meow- even if it’s just out of confusion. When they do, reward that behavior with a treat! Pretty soon, they’ll be chatting up a storm with the knowledge that they’ll get something delicious out of it.
9. Be Gentle
This is one of those tricks for cats that has a universal amount of usefulness. It works especially if you have a particularly active cat breed, one that doesn’t know its own strength. Sometimes, during play or even during training, your cat can get a bit too aggressive. When this happens, they need a reminder to be gentle. This command can be implemented into all of your training sessions. When your cat goes for the treat, slightly pull away and tell them to be gentle before giving it to them. Over time, this will teach them to go in softly for the treat instead of pouncing at it!
10. Get Into A Harness (Or Onto A Leash)
Last, but certainly not least, is getting them into a harness (or onto a leash). This is less of a trick and more of a practicality, but trust us when we say that incentivizing this task with a treat will make the whole ordeal far less of a nightmare.
When it’s time to go outside, have your cat sit and stay while you get their harness. Give them a treat for waiting, and then put that harness on. Once it’s on, give them a second treat so they know that putting on the harness gets them a reward. From then on, they’ll begin associating their harness with tasty treats!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fantastyczna Pasja/Shutterstock.com
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