Humans are always delighted — and impressed — when I do a High Five, or a handshake, or even sit up for a treat. They think I’m very clever, but the truth is that I’m not really any smarter than the average kitty! My human just knew how to take my natural inclinations and turn them into something fun. And you know what? You should do the same thing with your cat!
I know a lot of you humans out there are thinking that your cats would never do tricks, or that they are too lazy or independent. Well, you may have to rethink that because every cat my human has had since the cat before Sparkle — and there have been six of us — has learned a trick or two. Binga, in fact, learned to High Five just by watching me, and envying the treat rewards I was getting. Anyhow, it’s important that you put in the time and effort to get your cat to do a trick or two, and I have five reasons for you to consider it.
- It’s great bonding time with your cat. Although we cats want our space and don’t like intrusions, we are not really loners. We actually enjoy time with our humans, especially when it involves an activity we can share. Whenever my human sits down with me to practice my tricks, it’s our special time together.
- It keeps your cat mentally engaged. Yes, kitties sleep a lot, but sometimes we sleep because we are bored. And sometimes when we get in trouble, knocking things over or trying to get into drawers or rooms where we are not wanted, it’s also because we are bored. You would be bored too if you were never offered a fun challenge, and that’s exactly what learning tricks is! The more you humans do to keep our minds active and busy, the less busy-ness (i.e., trouble) we create on our own.
- Trick practice needs to be regular for it to stick, and cats love routine. It’s true that practice makes perfect, and that’s a good thing for kitties! We love routines — they make us feel secure, and sense that all is right in the world. So if you make a regular routine out of trick practice, it’s a win-win. We get to learn new things, and we get to have another routine in which to learn it.
- We enjoy the positive reinforcement, and the rewards. While we don’t need your approval the way dogs do, we sure appreciate it! I know when I do a trick correctly, it makes me happy. Plus I get a treat! Usually, when I do tricks, I get the best treats in the house. And remember, you don’t have to reward your cat with treats for doing tricks if she doesn’t care that much about them. Some cats prefer playtime rewards. Whatever our favorite things are, we love getting them, and they are even better when we’ve earned them.
- Your cat may surprise you! Binga surprises my human all the time by doing something that I’ve been learning. She is the original copycat. So even if your cat is older, or you think she is obstinate or not that bright, she still may learn things that will amaze you. My human says that Boodie is not very smart, but even she can sit up, and often will do it the moment a treat bag comes out. So be willing to let your cat excel… she just might!