Did you know that cats can learn cool tricks just like dogs? Find out how to teach your cat some cool cat tricks that you can show off to your friends. Cats have an independent streak that makes them challenging to train. You’ll need patience and persistence to convince your feline of the benefits and fun involved in learning cool cat tricks. Your kitty might not immediately warm up to the idea of performing on command, but eventually, the cat’s inquisitive nature will take hold and the puss will start to learn.
Why Teach Your Cat Tricks?
Studies have shown that the typical housecat sleeps from 12 to 18 hours per day and about 40% of cats nap for even longer durations. With your kitty’s laidback attitude, you might wonder why you should even bother teaching your cat tricks.
Besides the fact that they are fun, teaching your cat tricks can have some health benefits. Training sessions encourage activity, responsiveness and engagement which can all benefit the cat’s mental and emotional health.
In the wild, a feline would spend the majority of its life hunting, mating and raising a family. Survival takes exercise, alertness and cunning. Cats in captivity start to lose their wild instincts which can negatively impact the animal’s well-being and health.
Here are a few benefits of teaching your cat tricks:
- Maintains alertness
- Encourages physical activity
- Inspires bonding
- Stimulates the mind
- Overcomes depression
Tips for Teaching Cat Tricks
Teaching cat tricks is fun for both you and your kitty. While you might think that there is no way your cat will learn to do tricks, like high fives or sitting, it's really not as hard as it seems. Your cat might surprise you with how quickly he picks up his new tricks.
Below are a few tips on teaching cat tricks to ensure success.
- Keep cat trick training sessions short so your feline does not lose interest.
- Carry out frequent training sessions for success because a cat learns tricks through repetition. Ideally, you should carry out training sessions several times per day.
- Teach only one trick at a time and then move on to the next trick.
- Always use treats to train.
- Train in a distraction-free area of the home.
- Consider using a clicker to train your kitty to grab the cat’s attention.
Teaching cool cat tricks is fun not only for your amusement but also for your cat’s mental stimulation. The time you spend with your furry friend will solidify the bond you share with each other and take your relationship to the next level of pet friendship.
To ensure your cat's training goes smoothly, make sure you have the right tools on hand. Small but flavourful cat treats will help to keep your cat's attention and encourage cooperation. Here are a few of our favourite extra-tasty cat treats:
Choose the cat treats that your cat goes totally nuts for. The tastier it is, the more likely they are to work to get them. Just remember to stick to small treats. If you have to break up their favourite treats into small bite-sized pieces so that you can give several treats without feeding too many calories.
Another tool for training your cat is a small treat pouch. Rewarding effectively is all about timing. Having a treat bag ensures you have treats within reach so you can immediately reward your cat for a successful trick.
How to Train a Cat to Do Tricks
Training your cat is not that much different from training a dog. You need to choose a vocal command or a word that you use to ask for the trick. One word is ideal, but two words in necessary for some commands, like high-five.
Cats don't grasp vocabulary as easily as dogs. Not because they can't. more often it's because they haven't been given the right incentive yet. This is why vocal cues along often don't work well with cats. To improve your cat's training, incorporate hand signals.
A visual cue, like a hand motion, can complement cat training techniques. Try to use hand signals that suggest the desired movement. Use your hand to guide your cat, without touching them. You'll see a few easy examples later in this blog.
Timing is important for cats too. As independent creatures, your cat is less likely to adhere to your schedule. Wait until your cat is up and active to try to train some tricks. This will ensure she's alert and ready to participate.
Before or after meal times, during playtime, and after going for a stimulating walk with your cat are all great opportunities to start a training session.
Cats that aren't food motivated may struggle with training. If your cat isn't interested in food, then you will need to choose a different reward system, like a gentle neck scratch or a favourite toy.
10 Cool Cat Tricks to Teach Your Cat
Have you ever looked at a dog showing off all his cool tricks and thought it would be really fun if you could teach your cat those tricks? Fortunately, you can! Start with the basics to help get your cat used to the training process and then you can work your way up to more impressive tricks.
Take a look at the 10 most popular cat tricks to teach your cat. The first five are the easy ones and a great place to start your cat training. Once you've mastered those, you can try out some of the more advanced cat tricks.
1. Teach Your Cat to Sit
This trick is actually the same for dogs as it is for cats. It will take some practice, but this is one of the easiest tricks to teach a cat.
- Simply grab a small treat, and hold it in front of your cat, close to her face.
- Then raise the treat up and back, staying within a few inches of your cat. The natural reaction is for your cat to lift her head.
- When you go back far enough, your cat will have to sit or turn to follow the treat. If you keep the treat close enough to her nose, sitting will be the more likely option.
- As you draw your hand back, use the sit command.
- If your cat sits, reward her immediately.
With practice, your cat may associate the word sit with the action. Then you can ask for the sit command without using the treat guide. Ask your kitty to sit before meals, before going outside, and even during playtime.
2. Teach Your Cat to Give a High Five
Have you ever seen a kitty give a high-five? The adorable cat trick encourages your cat to touch its paw to your hand in a show of comradery.
- Place your kitty in front of you.
- Hold a tasty treat in front of your cat at your cat’s shoulder height.
- The cat will instinctually stretch out their paw to touch the treat. When your cat’s paw touches your hand, give the feline the treat at the same time you say, ‘high five’.
- Continue to repeat the training session. Your cat will quickly learn that every time he touches your hand with his paw that he gets a treat.
Some cats hate their paws being touched, so they may be hesitant to actually make contact. It's up to you if you want to accept a hover paw for a high five, but this training can be an effective tool for helping your cat get comfortable with his paws being touched.
3. Training Your Cat to Come
Cats master the ‘come’ command quickly when you provide positive reinforcement combined with a tasty treat. This is a great trick for bonding with your cat and having them get accustomed to your voice.
- Call your cat using the cat’s name or the classic, ‘kitty kitty."
- When your cat comes to you, always provide a treat.
- Soon your cat will learn that he will receive a yummy morsel any time you call his name which will ensure a positive recall every time.
This one takes lots of patience. At first, your cat may choose not to respond at all. This could be because they aren't aware of the treat reward. Start your practice with only a short distance between you so that your cat can see the reward.
4. Teach Your Cat to Spin
Another basic command to teach cats is to spin. Most cats learn this trick easily but need lots of practice to associate the spin command with the action.
- Show your cat the treat to get her attention.
- Slowly move the treat in a horizontal circle at eye level with your cat.
- Your cat will follow the treat around.
- Go slow enough for your cat to follow. If you move too fast, your cat will stop and spin back the other way.
- After much practice, you can hold the treat a little further away and ask your cat to spin.
Some cats will always need the treat to follow, while others will learn to follow just a hand motion with a verbal command.
5. Teach Your Cat to Touch
Most cats are very curious. If you hold out your finger your cat is likely to try to sniff it to investigate. This trick is easiest for cats that are highly food motivated, but any cat can learn this one.
- Grab a treat with a strong smell, like freeze-dried liver or salmon skin in one hand.
- Switch the treat to the other hand, and use the index finger of the first hand to point at your cat, holding your hand about 6 inches away.
- When your cat comes to investigate, use the command touch. Wait until she either touches your finger or gets very close.
- Reward her immediately with the treat from the other hand.
- Try this several times with small treat rewards until your cat associates the hand motion and command with the action of touching your hand with her nose.
The touch command and one finger are common for this cat trick but you can get creative for a funnier, shower trick. For example, You can use a closed fist and the command pound it.
6. How to Train Your Cat to Speak
Yes, you can train your cat to speak! Many cat breeds are known to be more vocal than others, such as the Siamese. However, any cat can master the ‘speak’ command. Simply talk to your cat and when the kitty replies with a ‘meow’ immediately give your furry friend a tasty treat. Soon your cat will be talking all the time to receive a treat.
Be prepared for the fact that this could lead to your cat "asking" for treats more often than you'd like. Once your cat understands the reward system, stick to only rewarding when your cat responds to your voice prompt. This will help to prevent your cat from yelling all day long and expecting a treat for it.
If your cat is already very vocal, then you may find this helps her understand when it's appropriate to speak. Reward her when she meow's in response to you, but ignore her when she yells just for attention.
7. Teach Your Cat to Jump Up
This fun party trick is not for everyone. Teaching your cat to jump into your arms or onto your shoulder shows off some serious skill, but it's not without its risk. Your cat will cling on to you to secure her landing, so be prepared for a few claw marks when you first start practicing.
- Start by closing the height distance between you by either kneeling on the ground or placing your cat on a chair.
- Hold a small treat at your shoulder level.
- Use the command up or jump.
- Using your free hand to tap your shoulder or chest can be helpful for some cats.
- At first, your cat will be hesitant to jump, so may default to climbing his front paws up to reach the treat.
- Let him practice this for a bit, then take a step back so that your cat has to leap to reach you.
- Be prepared to catch your cat at first. Cats aren't always as graceful as we think.
- When you are comfortable, you can start practicing from a larger distance, with your cat on the ground and you standing.
A pro tip for teaching your cat to jump up on you is to make sure her nails are trimmed and you are wearing clothes that cover your skin.
8. How to Train a Cat to Roll Over
One of the easiest cat tricks to teach is to train your cat to roll over.
- Sit beside your cat while it is lying down.
- Hold a treat about an inch away from the cat’s nose.
- Arc the hand that is holding the treat, so your cat can tilt its head to sniff the treat. The cat will usually incline his head toward the treat to follow it.
- Move the treat slowly so that the cat rolls to his side.
- Give the treat to the cat when the cat rolls on his side.
- Repeat this cat trick at least six times. Soon your cat will roll quickly to his side for a treat. You can then advance to encouraging your cat to roll completely over to receive the treat.
9. How to Train Your Cat to Jump Through a Hoop
If you have been to a circus or the famous Seigfried & Roy tiger show in Las Vegas then you have seen a lion or tiger jump through a hoop. You might be surprised to learn that a common house kitty can also learn the cat trick with minimal ease. You’ll need to invest in a hula hoop to carry out this cat trick.
- Hold up the hula hoop in front of your cat
- Place a treat in your hand and hold it in front of the hoop.
- Call your kitty so that the cat walks through the hoop.
- Give the cat the treat when the kitty walks through the hoop.
- Always use the same command ‘hoop’ to encourage the cat to walk through the hoop.
Once your cat masters this trick, you can add a second hoop or teach your cat to walk through a cat tunnel using the same technique. With enough practice, you can teach your cat to go through a whole homemade obstacle course.
10. Teach Your Cat to do Leg Weaves
One of the more advanced cat tricks utilizes a skill that most cats already have, just not one that they do on command. When cats want attention, they tend to rub up against our legs, some even going so far as to weave around us as we walk. You can take that cute but annoying habit, and use it to teach your cat a fun new trick.
- Stand with your legs apart, with one foot ahead of the other, like you are taking a step.
- Gently toss a treat through your legs and point to get your cat to walk through.
- Use the command "weave"
- Using a second treat, slowly guide your cat around to the front of your leg.
- Repeat on both sides.
- Once your cat is comfortable walking through your legs, you can eliminate the first treat.
- With your cat in front of you, take a step forward and hold a treat on the other side of your leg.
- Once your cat passes through to get the treat and clears your leg, toss the treat on the floor and take a step forward.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Keep practicing until your cat can follow along for several steps in a row.
While teaching cat tricks is fun, some of your cat's training needs are designed for safety and health. Below are a few of the common things that cats may need to be trained in.
How to Train a Cat to be an Indoor Cat
Your cat isn’t that far removed from its wild ancestors. Many kitties start to grow restless when the sun sets and want to head outdoors for an adventure. They feel the urge to hunt and wander. This is especially true if your cat is not neutered or spayed. However, you can train your cat to be indoors only.
You’ll need to transition your cat from outdoors to indoors slowly. Cats often take a long time to become accustomed to an indoor-only lifestyle. They will claw at windows, meow and dig at doors trying to convince you to let them outdoors.
Here are a few ways to train your cat to be an indoor-only cat:
- Feed your cat indoors only
- Provide a warm bed, cat toys, and ample areas to snuggle
- Use treats to lure a cat indoors and to direct a cat away from the door
- Provide your cat with plenty of activity while indoors.
- Create an indoor cat grass garden to give your cat a little bit of outside, inside.
How to Train a Cat to Use the Litter Box
You might mistakenly think that all cats use the litter box, but this is not always true. Cats who were orphaned as young kittens often never learn to use a box. You’ll need to train the kitty to use the litter box.
Learning how to potty train your cat is not difficult. It simply takes consistency and determination.
- Place the cat box filled with cat litter in a small, private room.
- Show the kitty the litter box by setting the cat in the box.
- After each meal, place the cat in the litter box.
- Watch the kitty throughout the day and immediately place the cat in the box if it starts sniffing around or acting like it needs to relieve itself.
- Reward the kitty with a treat and ample praise when he uses the cat box.
When training your cat to use the litter box, never scold the kitty for an accident because it can lead to anxiety and additional accidents.
For more litter training techniques, check out How to Litter Train Your Cat.
How to Leash Train Your Cat
A great way to give your cat more exercise and an outlet for exploration is to teach them to walk with a harness and a leash. This isn't always an easy task, but with practice, your cat can learn to walk safely on a leash.
Before you get started, you will, of course, need to find a leash and harness that is both comfortable and secure for your cat. Check out How to Train Your Cat to Walk on Leash for tips on finding the best tools.
- Let your cat sniff and explore the harness, offering treats to help associate the harness with a positive reward.
- Practice putting on and taking off the harness, while treating constantly.
- Attach your leash and use treats to encourage your cat to walk normally.
- Take your cat to a secure outdoor area and let your cat sniff around.
- Don't forget to reward her when she walks and moves naturally.
- When ready, take her to a more open area and try short walks.
Taking your cat for a walk isn't going to be like taking a dog for a walk. The point of this is to explore, plan for your cat to take her time. She'll want to investigate grass, plants, and trees. She might roll or lay down. So long as she is participating in her new environment, keep rewarding her.
Don't Rush Your Cat
If it feels like your cat is untrainable, then you might be moving too fast. Learning fun tricks might not come easy to all cats. Young kittens may learn faster than adult cats that already have an established routine and pattern of behaviour.
Practice is important, and you may have to repeat steps over and over to make sure your cat understands the vocal and visual cues. Take as much time as is needed to help them learn, and do your best to avoid getting frustrated or upset.
If you feel the tension rising, take a break and try again later. Every cat is different and will learn differently. You may find that your cat will pick up some tricks right away while others take days or even weeks of practice before they understand.
Remember not to try to teach too much at once. Focus on one trick at a time. With time and patience, you should be able to teach your cat some fun parlour tricks that not only make you look like a super cool cat owner but also provide a stimulating and satisfying activity for your smarty-pants cat.
Frequent Cat Trick Questions
Can cats really learn tricks like dogs do?
Yes, cats are capable of learning tricks through positive reinforcement training. While their learning style differs from dogs, they can be trained to perform a variety of tricks and behaviours.
What's the best way to start teaching my cat tricks?
Begin with simple tricks that align with your cat's natural behaviours, such as "sit" or "paw." Use treats and praise as rewards to motivate your cat and reinforce their successful attempts.
Are there specific tricks that cats are more likely to learn?
Cats often excel at tricks that mimic their instinctual behaviours, like "fetch," "high five," and "jump." However, with patience and creativity, you can teach them a wide range of tricks.
How do I use positive reinforcement for training tricks?
Positive reinforcement involves rewarding your cat with treats, praise, or play whenever they successfully perform a trick. This encourages them to repeat the behaviour to earn the reward.
What if my cat isn't responding to training?
Cats have their own pace and preferences, so be patient and adjust your training approach. Break down tricks into smaller steps, and ensure you're using high-value treats and a calm training environment.
How often should I train my cat for tricks?
Short and frequent training sessions work best for cats. Aim for a few minutes a day, using positive reinforcement and keeping the sessions enjoyable to maintain your cat's interest.