How to Train a Cat to Do Tricks [Plus 3 Easy Ideas]
by Jessi LarsonWe hope you love the products we've carefully selected to recommend! As an Amazon Associate we earn a small share from qualifying purchases.
Wondering how to train a cat to do tricks? We’ll show you how in this easy guide.
But first, many people may ask if it’s even possible to train a cat to do tricks in the first place.
Cats can be mysterious creatures, which leads to many falsehoods about the animal. This includes people claiming that cats don’t love their owners, won’t cuddle and can’t go on walks.
Just ask any cat owner and they’ll tell you that these cat myths couldn’t be farther from the truth.
But what about teaching tricks to your cat? Let’s go over some ways to teach your kitten some new tricks.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that cats respond to positive reinforcement and not negative punishment. Therefore, cats should only be taught new tricks or behaviors with reward-based, positive training.
You can try until you’re blue in the face, but using punishment and dominance just will not work when it comes to teaching cats.
Instead, let’s look at what will work when you figure out how to train a cat to do tricks.
How to Train a Cat to Do Tricks
Figuring out how to train a cat to do tricks can seem like a mysterious, confusing process at first. Where do you even begin?
To take the guesswork out of the equation, we’ve broken it down into a step-by-step process to follow and outlined three starter tricks to try first.
Use Treats as Positive Reinforcement
The best reinforcements to use when training cats are treats. But, they can’t be just any treats, as most cat owners know.
Cats can be very particular when it comes to their likes and dislikes. So make sure you splurge for the treats your cat loves the most. These will be the most effective.
Check out our guide to the best treats for cats.
If your cat doesn’t fancy typical cat treats, try diced pieces of chicken or turkey, low-sodium tuna and even meat-flavored baby food.
Next, make sure your cat acclimates to receiving rewards in response to certain behaviors, like performing a simple trick.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once your cat is performing the trick and receiving the treat flawlessly, keep it going a few times so they can get some practice and learn why they are being rewarded.
It’s important to find balance here, though, because if you do this too many times in a row, your cat will likely become bored.
Try teaching one trick at a time in increments of 10-15 minutes. Just make sure you repeat it every day, so your cat doesn’t forget what they’ve learned.
Use a Clicker to Reinforce Timing
In the process of teaching your cat tricks, it’s important that you reward them as soon as they perform the desired action. A clicker is a tool that can help you nail the timing and introduce a sound that tells the cat their behavior is welcomed.
To teach your cat what the clicker means, begin by using the clicker and giving them a treat without requesting any action in return.
After a few times, the cat will learn the sound of the clicker signifies that good things are coming, and eventually, the clicker will become its own reward.
If you’re interested in clicker training, here is one that works well.
Try New Tricks
Once your cat fully masters their first trick, move on to more. With your clicker and treats in tow, you can teach your cat common commands like “down,” “stay” and “up.”
This method can be used to leash train your cat and teach them any other practical behaviors.
To get started, here are three super simple ideas to begin with as you learn how to train a cat to do tricks.
1. Teach Your Cat to Sit
To teach your cat how to sit, sit on the floor with them and show them a treat. When they see the treat, they will likely try to come get it.
When your cat does this, say “sit” and bring the treat over their head. When you do this action, the cat will likely stop and sit.
When their bottom touches the floor, use your clicker, and then give your cat the treat. Use positive reinforcement and make sure you praise your pet in a positive voice and give them physical affection.
Repeat this process a few times so they get the drill.
2. Teach Your Cat to High-Five
A cat high-fiving is an awesome party trick, and it’s actually pretty easy to train them to do this.
To teach this to your furry friend, get on the same eye-level as them and hold a treat in front of them at their shoulder. As they reach their paw out and touch your hand with the treat in it, use your clicker, and then give your precious pet the treat.
Eventually, your cat will understand that they must touch your hand before they are given the treat. When that happens, you can stop holding the treat in the hand you are offering the cat. When they touch your hand, use the clicker and give them the treat with the other hand.
Once this becomes consistent, begin offering your hand in the high-five position and give the verbal command “high five!” When the cat touches your palm, use your clicker and give them the treat.
3. Teach Your Cat to Play Fetch
Who said dogs are the only animals that can play fetch? Cats can too with the right training!
To start, find a space that is quiet and distraction-free so your cat can fully focus.
Next, grab a toy that your cat loves, whether it’s a ball, small stuffed toy or even a crumpled-up piece of paper. Toss it a short distance and guide your cat to it. When they reach the object, reward them with a treat so they know this is what you expect of them.
As part of teaching the command, you should say the word “fetch” throughout the process. When you throw the object, say “Go fetch!” When they grab the it, exclaim “Good fetch!”
Cats are intelligent creatures and will soon understand what you expect of them when they hear this word.
Final Thoughts: How to Train a Cat to Do Tricks
If you want to learn how to train a cat to do tricks, simply start with the steps above and take it slowly. As they say, practice makes perfect, and your cat will pick up the pace as they get more comfortable with the process.
Also, if you are committed to teaching your kitty new tricks, but it’s just not working, you may want to contact a trainer for some professional assistance. Always look for someone experienced in working with cats and positive reinforcement. Some felines just need a little extra support.
Certain cats may pick up tricks right away and love performing them for you. Others may not be quite as eager or apt, depending on their personality.
Just be patient, use positive reinforcement practices and remember that this is a fun bonding time for you and your furry friend!