As you know, I can do some tricks. The humans who I met at BlogPaws got to see me do them in person! Cat tricks are not really all that hard. I bet a lot of you kitties out there could get your human to do them with you. And the best part is you get treats, just by giving your human some very specific paw or body signals. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?
All your human needs to start working with you on this is patience and some treats. A clicker is optional — I learned without one. And your human should also trim your claws before you start practicing. You will see why once we get started.
I’m going to show you the four basics because they are all sort of related: Sit Up, High Five, Shake and Stay. Learning one led to the others, and I still practice them several times a week.
Every cat that has ever come to live here, beginning with the cat before Sparkle, has learned how to do this trick. Except this one — she knew what my human wanted her to do, but she just refused. That means, if you do the math, 85% of cats my human has worked with do this trick. It is part of our breakfast ritual — we all have to sit up for a bit of food before my human gives us our bowls. My human simply holds up a treat or some food the way you see here (she is using a fork with a chunk of food to make it easier for her to photograph).
While we were learning it, my human held up the food or treat just out of our reach until we sat up, and when we did, she said, “Sit up!” and then gave us the treat. Eventually, we learned that when my human said, “Sit up,” if we did, we got something tasty. My human doesn’t even have to look at me anymore. If I am sitting there, waiting for breakfast, she can just say, “Sit up,” and I will do it. It is just a matter of repetition. When your human thinks you have learned to Sit Up, she can try saying it before holding out the treat to see if you will do it. If you don’t, that just means you need to keep practicing.
Some cats are naturals when it comes to High Fives. Here is how you figure that out: take a particularly tasty treat and hold it a little higher and farther away than you normally would for doing a Sit Up.
If it’s a good treat, your cat will stand up, trying to reach it. If it is not a good treat, then why are you using it? Go get some freeze-dried chicken or something else super good!
If a cat tries to grab the food or treat like I am here, it will be very easy to get her to learn how to do high fives! This is also why it is a good idea for you kitties to have your claws trimmed before practicing this — you don’t want to snag your humans’ skin with your claw. That will discourage them from working with you.
Once you humans get your cat to reach for a treat, all you need to do is hold the treat in one hand and give your cat’s outreached paw a high five with the other hand, and at the same time say, “High five!” Then give her the treat. It’s that simple.
Just keep doing that a few times a day, several times a week, and eventually it will stick.
High Fives and Shakes are totally related. Instead of giving your cat a high five, say, “Shake,” and lightly hold her paw instead — emphasis on lightly. You don’t want your cat to think you are being grabby and graspy. You can teach your cat to do both High Five and Shake but make sure she knows one really well before going onto the other one, or she will get confused. Chances are she will be a little puzzled when you start the new trick anyhow, but that’s when the patience thing needs to kick in.
When your cat is used to doing Shake, then you can grasp her paw a little more firmly, like a real handshake.
Stay is actually a very good trick for a kitty to know! It helps us focus. I confess, I get a little ADHD sometimes, but when my human tells me to Stay, and I know there’s a treat at the end of staying, I will sit down and stay put. For some reason, most kitties understand that pointing the way my human is in the photo above means to sit down. If your cat needs help with this, just point at her when she is sitting still, say, “Stay,” and give her a treat. Eventually make her sit longer before giving her the treat. Soon she will relate “Stay” with sitting patiently (or like with me, semi-patiently) and waiting for a treat.
Staying is a good thing to practice between other tricks. It may take a while, but eventually a cat will learn to stay still while you are digging through the treat bag for another treat. That is a good test to see how well she is catching on.
So there are my cat tricks! I hope you and your human have learned some new things to try. Remember to make each session fun and brief. My human and I only spend about 10 minutes, sometimes less, to practice my tricks. She uses them for when we are out places to tell if I’m comfortable. Even if I am a little nervous, she knows that if I will still do a trick for her, that I’m okay, and if I won’t, then maybe I’m too uncomfortable and we should leave.
The best part about cat tricks? Not only is it a fun game to play with your human, we kitties are always the ones in control! Your human always should follow your lead and practice tricks with you that you naturally gravitate towards. I know it has strengthened my relationship with my human. Maybe it will do the same with yours.