Hello, fellow cat enthusiasts!
Before jumping into specific tricks, you’ll want to think about how to tell your cat he’s doing a good job! You can certainly just use a treat to tell kitty that he performed his task, but more complex tricks or quick cats will require a signal to tell them “good job!” before the treat.
- The Cue
There are two common types of cues: verbal and clicker. Verbal cues are easy, free, and you don’t have to remember where you put them! “Yes” and “good” are reasonable cue words, however you must be consistent. Clickers are nice because they have a quick, consistent sound. For cats that are offended by loud noises, there are even clickers with multiple volume options! On the downside, clickers can be tough if a trick requires multiple hands, or if you’re good at losing things.
2. Timing and Training To The Cue
Timing is key. As soon as the wanted behavior is exhibited, click! A click too late can mean confusing the cat, or even worse, encouraging an unwanted behavior. Timing must be precise and consistent. Eventually, the click will mean “good job, a treat is coming”, as you are unable to treat while your cat is simultaneously performing some harder tricks. First you must train your cat to the click of verbal cue. Without asking for anything, “click!” then immediately treat. Repeat this until your cat understands that click=treat.
3. Trials and Tribulations
Cats have strengths and weaknesses in their talents just as people do. A trick that may take moments for one cat to learn a certain way can take weeks and various methods for a different cat to learn. If your cat is having trouble with a trick and you’re both getting frustrated, let kitty “win” with a trick they know, then try a different trick before coming back to the troublesome one. Keep training sessions frequent and short, and try to end on a good note before kitty loses interest. Remember, training is a learning experience for both cat and human, and it takes time and patience!