A reader wonders if her cat will enjoy being trained to do tricks. Your Cat expert Kim Houston advises.
Q: Do cats enjoy learning tricks? I thought it would be a fun thing for me to do with my cat, but I only want to do it if she will enjoy it.
Your Cat reader.
A: Kim says: When it comes to training and learning tricks, most people think of dogs and their obedience and willingness to learn, while cats are often incorrectly viewed as stubborn, defiant, and untrainable. Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained and are intellectually one of the smartest of all companion animals — when it comes to training, cats excel! Even the most pampered kitty or highly independent diva are easy to train and communicate with and more than capable of learning new skills and tricks.
Not only does training keep your cat’s mind agile, but it will provide essential enrichment and stimulation. Furthermore, it’s a great way to connect with your cat and increase the bond you have. The key to training them lies in understanding what motivates them and using positive, reward-based techniques. Training needs to be positive, kind, and above all else, fun!!
As a trainer, you will need lots of patience and understanding if your cat is going to succeed with her tasks. The fundamental underpinning of training is to reward the desired behaviour instantly. The reward you use during the training session must be of high value in order to keep your cat’s concentration and give her an incentive to work. Try to determine what her favourite treat is and use it — even if this is select cuts of prime salmon!
Schedule the training sessions for when your cat is hungry; that way she will be more motivated to work to obtain the treats. Keep your sessions short — no longer than five minutes — and always finish on a positive note. Therefore, the only outcome for your cat is reward and success.
Investing time and effort in these training sessions is well worth the reward for both you and your cat. Not only will you be stimulating your cat’s mind and enriching her life, but you’ll be actively having fun together.
Now, that really is something worth high-fiving about!