Skip to main content

Is it easy to teach cats tricks?

When compared to their dog counterparts, cats aren’t exactly known for being the most friendly or tame companions. This may be at least partly due to the fact that cats were domesticated more recently than dogs. However, no matter how independent your cat may seem, you can surely teach them tricks! From simply sitting to jumping through a hoop, cats can be trained to do lots of things with the right tools. They might even be able to do more tricks than dogs can, considering a cat’s flexibility. Keep reading to learn what it takes for successful cat training.

Bribe them with tasty treats

woman feeding a cat a treat outside

Train your cat with treats, because there’s probably no way to get them to perform tricks without these. If you’ve had your cat for a while, you probably already know which treats they prefer. But if you have a kitten, you might have to do some trial and error when figuring that out. Once you know what kind of treat motivates your cat the best, stock up! However, make sure that the treat is low-calorie and relatively healthy if you plan on doing lots of training in one day — you don’t want to overfeed your cat.

Decide on the first trick

You should probably teach your cat one trick at a time so they don’t get confused. Once they’ve mastered one trick, you can move onto another. But what should you begin with? “Come” and “sit” are arguably two of the easiest commands to teach a cat. And teaching a cat to sit allows you to build on that skill, potentially leading them to lay down and eventually roll over.

cat on back with paws up and eyes closed

To teach a cat to come, hold a treat in front of them, and then gradually move away from them. If they follow you, even if it is only for a few feet, say, “Come,” and give them a treat. Repeat as needed. Teaching them to sit is slightly more complicated. Hold a treat in front of their nose, and then raise it up above their head. This should cause the cat to sit down. If they do sit, say, “Sit,” then give them the treat.

Start slowly

Although it might be frustrating, know that your cat is not going to get any trick right on the first try. Make sure to keep persisting and to stop cat training for the day once your cat seems unresponsive or uninterested. Forcing your cat to do a trick won’t help you or your cat progress in learning it. Patience is important when training cats to do tricks. Keep at it, though! Regularly train your cat to help solidify their ability to do a trick. And choose the right time for training — your cat should be alert, in a good mood, and somewhat hungry.

Reinforcement, reinforcement, reinforcement

person giving a cat a high five

Rewarding desired behaviors with treats or praise is the best way to train a cat. You may also consider using a clicker to train them. To use a clicker, click it whenever the desired behavior is performed. You’ll start clicker training with the help of treats, but gradually, your cat should perform a trick just by hearing a click. Regardless of what training method you choose, be sure that you are consistent in your method of reinforcement. Also, negative reinforcement is not recommended, as it may make your cat trust you less and is generally counterproductive.

Moving on to more complex tricks

Once your cat has mastered the two basic commands — sit and come — the possibilities of what trick to teach them next are endless. If you teach them to lay down, you can also teach them to roll over. Or, you might opt to teach them to jump through a hoop or go through a tunnel — activities typical of dog agility contests. “Stay” is also a good command to teach a cat. Cats can even fetch!

A command that can help save their life is to teach them to go into the carrier when a certain sound is heard. The sound might be the command, “Go,” or it could be a whistle or snap. Since cats aren’t always the easiest animals to put in a carrier, this command will prove to be especially useful. No matter the trick you choose, remember to take it slow and always positively reinforce your cat.

Cats aren’t usually thought of as very trainable animals. However, we dare you to break that mold and teach your cat tricks. They are very intelligent animals that can learn to do many different things. But like any other animal, consistency and persistence are important when teaching a cat to do a trick. Keep at it, and soon enough, you will have a cat who knows tricks that you can show off to all your friends and family!

Editors' Recommendations

Do cats really get ‘high’ on catnip or are they just being goofy?
Your feline loves this 'kitty drug' and it's mostly safe for them
Gray and white cat eating catnip out of a plastic bottle

Many cats go absolutely crazy for catnip, sometimes called a kitty drug. While catnip isn't a drug in the traditional sense, it can prompt some pretty crazy behavior from your cat. Many cats get super-excited and start racing around the house or playing crazily. Others tend to go into a very relaxed, almost sedated state.

While these behaviors might prompt us to think that our cats are high, that's not exactly what's going on. Understanding the question: "Why do cats like catnip?" and the effect that it has on your cat can help you to see just what's going on when you give your cat his favorite catnip toy.
Do cats get high on catnip?

Read more
8 reasons why your cat won’t stop rolling around
If you spy your kitty rolling around, this is what could be behind it
A long-haired cat rolls around on a brown carpet

Cats are famous for their chaotic personalities and unpredictable behaviors, but one of the most random things they can do is roll around on the floor. Most of the time, it seems to come out of nowhere. It's one thing to watch a sleepy feline lie down for a catnap in the sun, but it's another thing entirely when they flop over with all of their might.
While there's no doubt that it's entertaining to watch, not all cat owners or admirers know what's behind this silly-looking behavior. Why do cats roll around? Even though it may look like they're scratching themselves on the ground or asking for belly rubs like a dog, there are several real explanations ranging from obvious to subtle. At least now you'll know.

Why do cats roll around?

Read more
Why cats arch their backs (it’s not always aggression)
There are several reasons for this normal cat behavior
Tabby cat arching their back

Cat owners and non-owners alike have seen the famous Halloween symbol of a black cat with their back arched and hairs raised. The accompanying yowl can be heard in just about every Halloween movie ever made, but it's entirely different when a cat arches their back in real life. In books and movies, though, cats only seem to arch their backs out of aggression or fear. It's almost never a good thing!

However, a cat's arched back can mean many different things. True, it can be a fear reaction or an attempt at threatening another cat, but it can also be a reaction to completely normal, nonchalant things. These are the most common reasons why a cat might arch their back.
A cat's arched back can be a sign of aggression or defensiveness

Read more