Ever wondered if you can train your cat to give you a fist bump? Cat School’s Julie Posluns explains how to teach your cat one of the most popular tricks.
There are lots of benefits to teaching your cat some new skills: it’s a great way to strengthen your bond, boost their activity levels, and help them burn off excess energy. It’s also a lot of fun. If you love the idea of teaching your cat some tricks, but don’t know where to start, Julie Posluns, qualified behaviourist and founder of Cat School, is here to help.
“If you’re new to Cat School, the fist bump is a great place to start,” says Julie. “It’s not too difficult, and it shouldn’t take too long to master. Some people have managed to teach their cat how to do this within a day but, on average, it’ll take a few sessions.” She adds: “Bear in mind that the initial introduction to training can be more time consuming as your cat has to learn the rules. Your cat’s brain is like a muscle, so once they start working it, it gets easier to teach them new things.”
Before you start
When teaching the fist bump, Julie says that a clicker is useful, but not essential. Instead, you can use a verbal command, like ‘Yes’, when your cat gets something right.
The training also involves using a cup with food inside. Julie recommends using a plastic or paper cup; if you use a heavier cup or glass your cat might be scared if they knock it over.
“If your cat is still wary of the cup, try placing it on its side with the treat just inside,” she explains. “You might find that your cat still isn’t interested; if so, it’s more likely to be a food motivation issue. This means you either need to make the food reward more appealing, or think about the way you feed your cat. Switching to scheduled meals, rather than leaving food out all day, will usually fix this problem.”
Drop a piece of food into a small plastic or paper cup. This container should be smaller than your cat’s face. When your cat uses their paw to get the food, click or say ‘Yes’ and reward by giving your cat the food.
Repeat step 1, but this time, hold the cup in your hand. When your cat paws at the cup, click or say ‘Yes’ and reward your cat with the food.
This time, do the same but cover the cup with your hand. When your cat’s paw targets your hand, click or say ‘Yes’, then reward your cat with the food.
Repeat step 3 but remove the food from inside the cup. When your cat paws at your hand, click or say ‘Yes’ and reward him with the food.
Remove the cup. Make your hand into a fist, when your cat’s paw targets your hand, click or say ‘Yes’, then reward him with the food. Congratulations, you’ve taught your cat how to do a fist bump! Once your cat is comfortably fist bumping you, keep practicing to make the trick more reliable.