If you are one who has always thought cats were untrainable, you might be wondering why you would ever start clicker training a cat! Contrary to popular belief, cats are actually quite trainable and make very willing students. Clicker training cats is all the rage now and you don’t want your cat to miss out.
Whether you’re looking to correct bad behavior, teach some obedience skills, or train your cat to learn fun tricks, training is excellent enrichment for your cat’s mind, and a rewarding, and fun activity the two of you can enjoy together for years to come!
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What is clicker training for cats?
Clicker training is based on positive reinforcement training by marking your pet’s desirable behavior and then rewarding it. This method gets its name because it uses a small, hand-held tool called a “clicker” which makes a clicking noise.
When your cat performs the desired behavior, you press the button on the clicker, and follow up the click with a food reward, such as a favorite cat treat or piece of kibble. Your cat will quickly learn that a the clicking sound equals a treat. Once they come to that realization, they will be willing to work and perform for you!
10 Reasons to Start Cat Clicker Training
Not only is it possible to clicker train a cat, it’s also a fun way to spend time and bond with your kitty. Plus, cats are perfect candidates for teaching fun new tricks because of their size and natural athleticism. Try getting a 50 pound golden retriever to sit on your back or jump through your arms, and you’ll start to see the appeal of working with our perfectly-sized feline friends.
Cat training with a clicker also helps you better communicate with your cat, eliminating any confusion in the training process. You are able to use the sound of the click to capture the exact moment your cat performs the desired behavior so they know exactly what you want them to do. In contrast to using your voice, the clicking noise is a distinct sound.
Besides just being fun, there are several practical benefits to cat clicker training:
1. Clicker training increases your cat’s physical activity.
It’s no secret that many indoor cats don’t get enough exercise. Clicker training is an easy way to get your cat up and moving. After some basic target stick training, you’ll be able to point to the top of your cat tree or scratching post to encourage your cat to jump up. As soon as they jump, click and toss a small treat across the room.
By teaching your cat to jump on, off, and over objects, you can eventually work towards using the target stick to guide them around a cat agility course for even more exercise!
2. Clicker training a cat works their brain.
Cats need to exercise their minds the same way we humans do. Training is an excellent form of mental stimulation, as it requires them to problem solve in a way they don’t normally have the opportunity to. Teaching a new trick will challenge your cat’s mind!
3. It will help your cat sleep better.
We all sleep better after a hard day at work. The same can be said for cats! If your cat tends to be hyper at the end of the day, try engaging in a training session before bed. It will actually help wind them down.
Training in the evening will also give them a bedtime snack and tire them out so they will be ready for a restful sleep. A peacefully resting kitty means a more peaceful night’s sleep for you too!
4. Clicker training cats helps overcome boredom.
Despite what many may think, cats do require both mental and physical stimulation. A bored cat can quickly become an overweight, depressed, or even destructive one.
Cat clicker training provides your cat with a fun and engaging activity. They will also appreciate the extra attention and enrichment.
5. You can use clicker training to teach your cat practical behaviors.
While all the high-fiving and arm jumping is fun and cute and makes for great exercise, you can also use clicker training to teach your cat more practical skills such as getting into their carrier, sitting and waiting at a designated spot while you prepare their meal, harness and leash training, and more! As long as you can break down these skills into easy steps for your cat to learn, you can teach an extensive repertoire of skills.
6. It helps strengthens the cat-human bond.
Clicker training gives you and your cat a fun and enriching activity to do together, which will only help strengthen the bond between you and build even more trust. Because clicker training is founded on positive reinforcement principals, your cat will always associate their training sessions with good things. They will then have more positive associations with you too!
Training together will change the dynamic of your relationship from roommates to teammates as you work towards a common goal. Watch your furry team member get smarter while you become a better trainer, and the two of you learn how to better communicate with one another.
7. Clicker training a cat can help solve problem behavior.
Got a counter-surfer or door-dasher on your hands? You can use clicker training methods to change that unwanted behavior! It’s a matter of redirecting the bad behavior, encouraging the good behavior, and teaching your cat what you want them to do instead. In the case of counter-surfing and door-dashing, this usually means training your cat to stay at a “parking spot” while the door opens or while you are cooking.
8. You can use clicker training to entertain friends and show your cat that strangers can be fun!
Showing off your cat tricks to friends and family is fun and will get your cat interacting with new people in a positive way. Plus, giving fist bumps to friends will melt everyone’s hearts.
If your cat is fearful of friends that come over, clicker training is an excellent ice breaker to help them learn that strangers also come with tasty treats.
9. Clicker training cats helps them overcome fears and builds confidence.
You can use your cat’s favorite treat to reward and encourage them to try new things or overcome a fear. Taking them to the vet or trying to get your cat comfortable in a new environment? Use treats and your clicker, and your cat will begin to make positive associations with these previously scary or negative things.
Clicker training allows you to introduce your cat to new challenges slowly and respectfully, building their confidence one click/treat at a time.
10. Clicker training will make your cat happier.
A cat who gets plenty of mental and physical exercise and enrichment is a happy cat. As mentioned, clicker training is an excellent form of both exercise and enrichment, and it can be used to increase your cat’s socialization skills and build their confidence.
Watch your cat’s behavior change as they purr through their training sessions and become a happy, well-adjusted kitty. The time you spend learning together will be the highlight of you and your cat’s day.
Sold on the cat clicker training idea but aren’t sure where to start? Check out our Ultimate Cat Training Guide!