Can You Train YOUR Cat?

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There are old phrases about cats and their independent minds, but however many times you say "That's like herding cats", doesn't mean it's true.

There are old phrases about cats and their independent minds, but however many times you say "That's like herding cats", doesn't mean it's true. In the Dumb Friends League Clicks and Tricks training class for cats, it is proven: Cats are trainable!I went to the last session of the class, so I got to watch cats do the tricks they'd learned over the past four weeks. As cats tend to hate other cats they meet, the Dumb Friends League set up little "cubicles" made of PVC pipe and canvas around the room to keep all the cats from fighting. Each cat also came in a small carrier and was held on a harness and leash, so they were all separated and safe.

 

I interviewed Rene, the owner of Rico while I was at the class, and she showed me how Rico could "touch". It was amazing to see a trained cat! I've lived with cats my entire life, but rarely see them do things on demand. Rene told me the Clicks and Tricks class was "Very worthwhile." Her cat, Rico has learned the behavior "paws", and is learning "high-five". Rico had been clawing furniture and biting cable cords, but is now learning to behave

 

.In order to train a cat, you should find a well-loved cat treat (baby food works well) and reward the behaviors desired. It's a good idea to save this treat just for training sessions. Begin by praising a behavior your cat does naturally that will eventually lead up to your chosen behavior. For instance, one behavior many cats learned was "paws" (a double high-five). This can start with the behavior "touch" (when the cat touches their nose to something). "Touch" is an easy behavior to start with; cats touch just about everything with their noses. Reward your cat with a click and a treat when they do something you want, but don't click late! Once your cat realizes you're rewarding him or her for doing something natural, they'll want to do more!

 

This class costs $40 for four sessions of training, every week on Wednesdays. The Dumb Friends League doesn't yet offer separate levels of classes for the cats, only a class teaching the basics of cat clicker training. At the end of the class, the teacher Matthew Levien told everyone this: "The last big thing I have to say is: Don't stop training!"