You might never have thought about teaching your cat tricks, but trust us, they love it! Cats are super intelligent, so spending time training with them is a great way to not only add enrichment to their daily life but also improve the bond between the two of you. We’ve rounded up 10 easy and fun tricks that you can teach your cat. We’ve included a video with each one to help.
We’ve focused on training methods that use positive reinforcement. This includes a clicker to mark when your cat carries out the behavior you’re looking for and a treat to reinforce that behavior. You can find a short clicker training tutorial here to get you started.
1. Teach Your Cat To Sit
To get started teaching your cat to sit, it’s easiest to get your cat on a raised platform, like a chair or table. Make sure your cat knows you have a treat in your hand. Move the treat up slightly, so it’s above their heads. As soon as your cat starts to sit, click and reward your cat with their treat.
Repeat this process several times over each session. Take your time, and remember that if this is the first time that you’ve taught your cat, they won’t necessarily know what you’re asking them to do!
Once your cat can sit with the treat and your hand, you can add a verbal cue and hand signal, so you don’t always need to have a ready supply of treats at hand.
2. Teach Your Cat To Wave
You can use sit as the foundation of this next trick. Ask your cat to sit, and click and treat when they maintain it. Next, you’ll need to show your cat a target and click and treat when they touch it with their paw. Repeat this a few times, then move onto raising the target, but clicking and rewarding your cat before they touch the target. This is rewarding them for raising their paw, without touching the target.
Next, take a small step back and keep rewarding your cat when they raise their paw in the air. Don’t step too far back straight away, or your cat may jump off their spot in confusion. Repeat this over several sessions as your cat learns to raise their paw.
After a few sessions, add your hand signal to ask for the wave. Simply hold the target in your hand while waving your hand, and reward your cat as they raise their paw. The final step is to remove the container, and your cat should now wave their paw when you wave your hand.
3. Teach Your Cat To High Five
For this trick, you’ll need a small target; you can use a small sticky note or a piece of colored card. Place a treat under the sticky note, and as your cat bats the sticky note out of the way, click to reward them. Repeat this until your cat knows that they need to touch the sticky note to get the treat.
Now you can place the sticky note on your hand, put your hand close to your cat — not too high at this point — and click and repeat as your cat touches the target on your hand. You can then repeat this with your hand held higher up, in a high five position. Start to use a verbal cue if you like, such as saying “high five” as you show your cat the target.
Once your cat has mastered this, you can make the target smaller, until it’s phased out completely and your cat doesn’t need it.
4. Teach Your Cat To Fist Bump
To start with, place your treats into a small container that your cat can’t get their mouth into! Place the container on the floor, and your cat will probably place their paw on the container to try and get to the treats. As your cat touches the container, click and reward them with a treat.
Once your cat is used to this stage, place your hand over the container. When your cat now touches your hand instead of the container, click and reward them with a treat. Now you can take the container away, put your hand out, and your cat should give you a “fist bump!”
5. Train Your Cat To Come When Called
Using your cat’s favorite treat bag is a great way to teach your cat to come when they’re called. Many cats will come running as soon as they hear that treat bag start to rustle. All you need to do is create a positive association between the treats and your cat’s name.
It’s easiest to start this training with your cat right up close. Simply say your cat’s name, crinkle the bag, and reward them with a treat. Over time, increase the distance between you and your cat, call their name, crinkle the treat bag, and reward your cat when they come running.
You should eventually be able to phase out the treats and reward your cat with a cuddle or a scratch when they come running as you call their name.
6. Teach Your Cat To Walk On A Leash
To start with, you’ll need to get your cat used to wearing a harness. Simply place the harness somewhere near your cat’s food bowl, and reward them with a treat if they investigate the harness. Next, place the harness on your cat but only keep it secured loosely. Again, give your cat plenty of rewards as they start to feel comfortable wearing their harness. Gradually tighten the harness until it’s fitted correctly. Allow your cat to wear their harness around the house, always under supervision, until they seem comfortable.
Next up, attach the leash and use a high-reward food treat that your cat loves to lure them a few steps toward you. If you have a clicker, use this to reward your cat as they walk toward you. Once your cat is comfortable, you can add a small amount of pressure on the leash, and reward your cat when they come as you call them toward you.
Once your cat is comfortable using these steps indoors, it’s time to take it outside! Only train somewhere secure, where you and your cat can concentrate. Start with very short training sessions, and build your way up to longer walks.
7. Teach Your Cat To Lie Down
With treats in your hand, ask your cat to sit. Then, place your hand on the floor near to your cat’s front paws, and draw your hand slowly away. As soon as your cat lies down, click and reward them. Repeat this over a few short sessions before adding in a verbal or hand signal.
8. Teach Your Cat To Roll Over
To teach your cat to roll over, you’ll first need to teach them the sit command, which we’ve covered. Ask your cat to lie down, then use a treat toward your cat’s back paws, so they’re lying more on their side, with their shoulder and hip on one side, both contacting the floor.
Next up, once your cat is lying on their side, take a treat and draw it up and around your cat’s neck. Keep practicing as your cat learns to roll over. Using a soft surface like a bed can help encourage your cat to roll over.
9. Teach Your Cat To Ring A Bell
You might well have seen that cute viral video of two cats ringing a bell for food. They’re both wearing little hats, which adds to the adorable effect!
Once you’ve taught your cat to give their paw, you can hold out a bell so they can touch it. Click and reward when your cat touches the bell, and repeat over the course of a few sessions. Gradually start rewarding your cat only when they make the bell ring.
10. Teach Your Cat To Stay
Ask your cat to come and sit on a particular spot or target. You can use a chair or a mat on the floor. Once your cat is on the target, you’re going to teach them how to leave it first! This helps them understand that they need to stay on their target until you ask them to leave, once you get to that point.
Once your cat is on their target, show them a treat in your hand, and then draw your hand away from where they’re sitting to ask them to leave. Click and reward your cat once they jump off their target.
Next, you want to build value when they’re sitting on their target, but clicking and feeding them multiple times. This makes the target somewhere they really want to sit and stay. Stand close to your cat and repeat this step over multiple sessions.
Now you can start adding distance. Ask your cat to sit on their target, and then take a few steps back. As you return to stand next to your cat, click and reward them with a treat. Again, repeat this step multiple times and move so you’re standing in different spots, always around a step or two away. Now you can build up distance and the amount of time that you stand away from your cat.
Featured Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock
- 1. Teach Your Cat To Sit
- 2. Teach Your Cat To Wave
- 3. Teach Your Cat To High Five
- 4. Teach Your Cat To Fist Bump
- 5. Train Your Cat To Come When Called
- 6. Teach Your Cat To Walk On A Leash
- 7. Teach Your Cat To Lie Down
- 8. Teach Your Cat To Roll Over
- 9. Teach Your Cat To Ring A Bell
- 10. Teach Your Cat To Stay