Not too tame: Why clicker training won't make your cat more cooperative


The day Cat School was featured on the Dodo, I was so excited. I read through all the comments giggling as people tagged their partners and friends in a back and forth about which of their cats they would try to train.

To my surprise, there were also a few negative comments. Some people were dismayed to see cats being trained, arguing it was demeaning to their true independent nature.

So just in case, anyone is worried that bringing out your clicker and treats will turn your feisty feline into a prissy poodle, I hope this post will convince you, there is nothing to worry about.

Here’s why:

School starts when your cat says it starts.

Your cat will let you know when you must report to your teaching duties. The first indication will be them breaking down the cupboard where you keep all your school supplies.

Your cat can come to class and leave anytime.

If you don’t make lessons fun and worthwhile (i.e., dispensing good treats), you will be all alone in your classroom.

Your cat feels fine about flunking Cat School

Biting and clawing at your hand, knocking over the food rewards, and stealing treats from the table, are just a few of the ways your cat will let you know they don’t care about good grades.   

The course curriculum will always be your cat’s choice.

If you want to work on rollover, your cat will want to work on high five. If you want to work on high five, your cat will want to work on rollover. Bring out one prop and your cat will walk over to a different one. Don’t bother with lesson plans, cat school curriculum is designed solely by cats.   

Forget teacher appreciation night.

Thinking about showing off your student work?

Think again.  

Cat students will a) never perform on cue and b) will do the opposite of what you ask of them, especially if there is an ‘audience’.

I hope you feel comforted by the fact that training won’t change the relationship you have with your cat. Although you may be in charge of the class, your cat will always rule the school.