A: It’s important to do your sessions somewhere your cat is very familiar with.
Make sure it’s quiet and that there’s nothing to distract your cat whilst you are training together.
Q: WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TEACH MY CAT A TRICK? A: Before a meal –
that way they will be much more motivated by the treat reward.
When cats are full all they want to think about is sleeping –
quite right too!
Q: HOW LONG SHOULD THE TRAINING SESSIONS BE? A: Cats generally need shorter training sessions
than dogs, as they can get frustrated quickly if they don’t understand what you are asking for (and they’re generally much more free-spirited!).
Practice little and often, instead of doing long, frustrating training sessions. I’d recommend bursts of 15–20 minutes and no more than four sessions a day.
Q: HOW MANY TRICKS CAN I TEACH MY CAT AT ONCE?
A: Keep it to about three tricks at any one time. This will also keep your sessions more focused.
Q: HOW SHOULD I PRAISE MY CAT? HOW
MUCH FUSS SHOULD I MAKE?
A: By saying ‘good’ (or ‘good boy’/ ‘good girl’) in a positive, animated way –
the tone of your voice is key here. You can pet them as well – most cats enjoy the treat more than the fuss,
but keep both going throughout. You can make less of a song and dance about it once they are doing it consistently,
but never stop praising or giving them a treat altogether. Reassure your cat all the time during training. Never,
ever scold your cat – trick training is all about the carrot, never the stick!
Q: HOW DO I GIVE MY CAT THE TREAT?
A: I recommend you place the treat in a little cat bowl and feed the reward from this – cats have
very sharp claws and teeth so they can hurt you by accident when being enthusiastic about the reward,
so don’t do it from your hand. The bowl then starts acting as a prompt –
when they see the bowl they understand training time is coming.
Mine will start to rub around my legs or jump up to try to steal the treats from the magic bowl!
Q: WHERE SHOULD I KEEP MY TREATS?
A: Close by so you can pop one in your treat bowl whenever you need one.
WHEN I’m REWARDING MY CAT,
DOES IT MATTER WHICH WAY ROUND I SAY ‘GOOD’ AND GIVE THE TREAT?
A: You should tell them ‘good’ as soon as they have done the task requested and whilst you are going in to give them the treat from the bowl. Q: WHAT TREATS SHOULD I USE?
This is very much dependent on what your cat likes and you may need to experiment with different
different types to find the right one for your cat. Some like commercial treats,
whereas others prefer little bits of fish or meat. It’s very important,
however, to make sure your cat doesn’t become overweight and have too much salt or fat in their diet.
If you are doing lots of sessions, be aware of how much you are feeding throughout the day and alter their main meal
Q: IS THERE A TIME WHEN I CAN ASK MY CAT TO DO A TRICK WITHOUT GIVING A REWARD AT THE END OF IT?
A: You should always reward your cat, even for the simplest task.
Once they have learned several tricks you can ask for them in a row and then reward at the end.
I also like to keep rewarding for the basic behaviors (such as sit and stay),
as if these get weak it has a knock-on effect for other tricks.
Q: WHAT MOOD SHOULD MY CAT BE IN FOR THE BEST CHANCE OF SUCCESS?
A: Like us, cats tend to be lethargic if it’s really hot, so wait until it’s cool before you begin.
Also, if they are sleepy or full they won’t want to learn –
so let them have a rest and do a training session later.
Q: ARE THERE CERTAIN TYPES OF CATS THAT ARE EASIER TO TRAIN THAN OTHERS?
A: It’s mainly about personality: the ideal cat to train is friendly, playful and likes treats,
as they are the main motivator for cats. In general, though, I’d say Maine Coons, Siamese and Bengals are great.
Persians are smart but a little lazier than the feistier breeds.
Q: HOW DO I LET MY CAT KNOW THAT THE TRICK IS OVER?
A: I generally cuddle them to say they have done well and indicate that the session is over.
FIVE FINAL TOP TIPS . . .
1 LITTLE AND OFTEN. It is much better to do four short sessions a day than one long one.
Your cat will become bored if you make it too long. Keep it fun.
2 PRAISE, PRAISE, TREATS. Trick training is all
about encouragement but it’s also about rewards – make sure you are giving your cat what they are motivated by each time they perform a trick correctly
. 3 NEVER GET CROSS! Quite often if my cat isn’t doing something right, it’ll be because I’m doing something wrong.
If your cat isn’t understanding a command, reread the instructions and start again another day.
NEVER yell at or smack your cat. If he or she is having a cheeky day and misbehaving, simply stop the training and ignore the naughty behavior.
This will make him or she want to be a good boy or girl, next time, as they will feel they’ve missed out on fun times!