Have you ever wanted to know how to train your cat to fetch? Many familiar with a cat’s obstinate nature would never believe it possible! After all, when did you last see a kitty eagerly chasing after a stick and fetching for her owner? No self respecting cat would stoop so low! It would certainly ruin her image as top cat in the neighbourhood!
Anyway, in this post you’ll discover tried and tested ways on how to train your cat to fetch, without tears or tantrums! You’ll discover why dogs are so eager to please, yet why cats understand commands, but couldn’t care less. You’ll learn all about clicker training and why it’s so effective, plus, reinforcing good behaviour.
The difference between dogs and cats
Dogs are very easy to train, and most sit on command with very little effort. One of the main reasons being, they’re pack animals, and love being part of a family. Being rewarded with attention is enough to teach a dog tricks.
Cats on the other hand are far more solitary. Apart from lionesses, cats hunt alone. They don’t get such pleasure from being rewarded with attention, and getting a pat on the head from fetching a ball won’t work.
Why cats naturally retrieve
Though your cat won’t retrieve to please you, she will if there’s something in it for her. Strange as it may seem, retrieving is actually natural behaviour for a cat. In the wild, cats fetch prey to feed their family, and I’m sure your kitty has fetched the odd rodent or pigeon in her time. Most pet parents see this as a gift from their furry kids!
As your cat is nurtured and well fed, she doesn’t have to go out and catch her own food. Many still do this though out of instinctive behaviour. The need to hunt should always be encouraged and this can be done through play. Fetching is a good example, as long as it’s not real prey!
What are clickers and can they really be used to train a cat?
A clicker is simply a small hand held device that makes a clicking sound. The reason it’s so effective in training dogs and cats is the consistent sound it makes. No human voice can sound exactly the same all the time. Your mood and the way you’re feeling affects your speech. Though it may be very subtle, your pet may not respond to your command.
The click is given just before a reward, and used to associate obeying a command with a treat. For example, when your dog sits, or fetches a stick. The principle is exactly the same with a cat. As soon as your kitty knows there’s something in it for her, she’ll respond to your commands!
What you need to get started
Firstly, of course you’ll need a clicker. They’re very inexpensive and will usually last a long time. Many places even sell them in multi-packs. Secondly, you’ll need something small for your cat to fetch. Ideally, a favourite toy, as this increases the chances of your cat actually retrieving it. This could be a toy mouse or even a screwed up piece of paper. Rubbing it with catnip makes it even more enticing for your kitty if she’s sensitive to it.
You’ll also need a box of your cat’s favourite treats as reward. Lastly, you’ll need a quiet place to train your fur baby. It’s no good trying to train your cat to fetch if she’s surrounded by other family members or friends. A cat’s powers of concentration are very short lived and their minds can be off somewhere else in a split second!
Using a clicker to train your cat
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a lot of patience and plenty of treats. Don’t expect to see your cat fetching things in a couple of sessions! It can take quite a while, and each session should be no longer than five minutes.
Start off by finding a time when your cat is alert and hungry. Sitting some way off from her, hold the clicker out of your cat’s sight. Take a treat and hold in your other hand. Next, call her over, and “click”, then immediately offer the treat. Repeat this exercise a couple of times a day, but no more. After a week or so, your cat will associate the clicker with treats. It’s really not that hard to train a cat as they’re very smart with high intelligence.
Anyway, onto phase 2! Now your kitty understands “click” means treat, you could start teaching her to pick up a small toy in her mouth. Place the toy a little way from her and soon as she touches it, “click” and give her a treat. If she picks it up in her mouth, “click” and give her a treat. When you successfully reach this stage, you’re next goal is to encourage your cat to bring the toy over to you. As you can imagine, this will take time, but as long as you keep “clicking” immediately before giving a treat, your cat will respond.
Why reinforcing good behaviour always works
Whether you’re teaching a child, dog, cat, or even a parrot, they’ll always respond to treats and kindness. Never shout at a cat as they don’t understand, and you’ll only end up creating fear. Your cat will always respond to a treat, but you’ll ruin everything by raising your voice as punishment!
What are the best treats to give your kitty?
When buying treats for your cat, always aim for those with natural ingredients whenever possible. Don’t over feed, as some are high in fat. There are a wide selection with different textures and flavours, and I’m sure your kitty will have her preferences!
Training your cat to do other tricks
You don’t need to stop at fetch, as long as your cat enjoys training, as most do. You could always train your cat to sit and beg as well. Providing lots of tasty treats are involved, you’ll have a very willing participant!! Always be patient and only stick to a short 3-5 minute session each time. Respect your cat’s needs and don’t disturb her rest for training. You’ll only have an agitated kitty on your hands!
Now you know how to train your cat to fetch, I hope you and your fur baby enjoy fun times together. Training also strengthens the bond, and creates a positive relationship. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share. I’d also love you to share any experiences you’ve had of training a cat. Please leave any comments or questions below.
Wishing you a purrfect day:)