Training Your Cat To Do Tricks

Although some cats will respond to positive reinforcement, most cats generally do better if they are working for food rewards. If you use soft moist cat food or dry food as a treat, you will lessen the chance of disturbing a properly balanced diet. If your cat has performed a certain task you have asked of him, make sure you not only reward him with a food treat but with verbal praise as well.

You will have more success if you work with one command at a time. As with any kind of training you have to be consistent. Let your cat work at his or her own speed. When you see even the slightest glimmer that your cat understands the behavior you are trying to teach, reward him or her enthusiastically. Here are a few you may want to try.


Try teaching this one at mealtime. Use your cat's name followed by the command "come." If necessary, tap on his food bowl to get his attention. When he comes, praise him lavishly and then give him the food. Eventually, your cat will associate the food with the command and then you will be on your way to owning a trained cat.

Shake Hands

Cats will naturally try to use their paws, so this is not a hard command to teach. With your cat sitting in front of you, touch his paw and say "shake." As soon as he reacts and lifts his paw, shake it and give him verbal approval along with a treat. Remember to be consistent here and repeat the command the same way each time.

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Start with your cat on a footstool or other raised area, place your cat into sitting position. Hold a treat over your cat's head and say "sit-up." Do not give him his reward if he stands or grabs at the treat, just repeat the command and wait for him to try and accomplish the behavior you have requested of him. When he does accomplish the desired behavior, give him the treat right away and repeat the command several times.


Swiping at a morsel of food is a natural behavior for a cat. Hold a treat in your hand. Place it in front of the cat's nose but just out of reach of his front paws. Then, move it back and forth with your hands in a waving motion while telling your cat to "wave." As your cat reaches out for the food, it will appear as if he is waving. Once his motion simulates the waving behavior, praise him and give him a treat.

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