Clicker training is a common training method for dogs, but did you know you can clicker train a cat too? In fact, it’s easier than you probably think it is! When I started clicker training my cats, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they caught on to simple commands like “come” and “sit.”
Not only is clicker training easy and fun, it has a lot of practical applications, especially if you travel and adventure with your cat.
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1. Training for adventures will be easier with clicker training.
The first step to traveling and adventuring with your cat is to harness and leash train. Other important skills include backpack training and riding in a carrier. Though most cats are capable of learning these skills, it can take longer if you don’t have a training system in place. Incorporating the clicker into your adventure training sessions can make learning all these necessary skills much easier.
For example, you can use the “come” command when you are leash training. You can also train your cat to jump into their backpack or carrier on command.
2. Clicker training will strengthen your bond.
Sharing a special activity like adventuring helps to grow the trust and bond shared between you and your cat. Clicker training will only help to enhance that! Learning together, performing tricks together, and having an activity you share will make your relationship stronger.
Having a strong bond and sense of trust with your cat is an important asset when traveling and adventuring. The stronger your bond, the more likely it is your cat will stick close when out and about. Your cat will also be less likely to spook or run off if he happens to slip out of his harness.
With a strong bond comes trust as well, which is needed of you intend to introduce your cat to bigger adventures!
3. Clicker training is a great way to keep your cat engaged when you aren’t able to get outside.
Most people are not able to take their cat out on an adventure on a daily basis. Work, life, the weather… all of these things get in the way sometimes. If you have a high energy adventurer, he may get anxious or rambunctious when he’s not able to get outside though.
Interactive play is obviously a great way to engage with and exercise your cat, but having a couple alternate activities is a good idea. Clicker training is the perfect indoor activity to add to the mix! It is both mentally and physically stimulating. It’s recommended to keep training sessions down to about 5-10 minutes at a time, so you can squeeze one in even on a busy day.
4. Clicker training comes in handy in emergency situations.
Your cat just slipped out of his harness while out on an adventure. You are doing your best to remain calm and not panic. If you make any kind of sudden movements towards your cat, it may startle him. What do you do?
If your cat has learned some basic clicker training commands, then this situation will be less likely to escalate. You can simply tell your cat to “come” and “sit” in front of you so you can calmly put his harness back on.
5. Clicker training can make your adventures even more exciting!
If you are looking for a way to add some excitement to your cat’s outings, try incorporating a clicker training session into them. You can use jump commands to encourage your cat to jump over obstacles like downed trees and limbs. You can use come commands to get your cat to walk along ledges. You could even have a command for your cat to climb a tree. The possibilities are endless and tons of fun.
Bonus: If your cat learns to “sit” and “stay,” it will make taking photos much easier! 🙂
6. In a stressful situation, you can use your clicker training to keep your cat calm and focused.
One of the best ways to tell if your cat is stressed while on an adventure is to try giving him a treat. If he eats it, he most likely feels pretty comfortable. If he refuses the treat, it can be a sign that he is stressed or overwhelmed. You can do this same test with your cat’s clicker training. If he will perform his tricks while you’re out, then he is probably calm and relaxed.
In addition to using clicker training to assess your cat’s state of mind, you can also use it to keep him focused in stressful situations. For example, if a dog starts barking or some other loud noise spooks your cat, you can try to focus his attention on you and the clicker in order to keep him from getting distracted. Use his training to redirect his focus from the scary things onto something positive. Depending on your cat, it may not always work, but it worth a try!
7. You can use clicker training commands to get awesome pictures of your cat in action.
We all love to get those beautiful, Instagram-worthy photos of our cat posing outside while on adventures. But we also all know how difficult it can be to get those shots! Cats aren’t always the best at sitting still or looking at the camera… If your cat knows basic sit and place commands though, you will be way more likely to get those awesome photos.
8. Clicker training is fun and easier than you think!
As I mentioned at the beginning, clicker training your cat is a lot easier than most people think. I was able to train my gain to “sit” in a matter of minutes. My cats really enjoy their training sessions too, so I know it must be fun. Plus, they get lots of treats. Who wouldn’t like that?!
How to Get Started Clicker Training Your Cat
Have I convinced you to start clicker training with your cat? Yay! I am no expert trainer, so I won’t try tell you how to clicker train your cat. I will, however, tell you what supplies you need and point you in the direction you need to go.
Clicker Training Supplies:
- Cat School Cat Training Kit – This is what we use! It comes with a clicker, target stick, and a quick start guide.
- Training Treat Pouch – You’ll need something to hold all your cat’s treats during your training sessions. This pouch clips to the waist of your pants, allows for easy access to the treats, and is super easy to clean.
I’d also recommend checking out the Cat School site for their excellent training tutorials. We’ve learned so much from their videos!
KittyCatGO LIVE! Season 1, Episode 4: Clicker Training Cats with Julie Posluns of Cat School
About the Author
Emily Hall, ABCCT is a certified cat trainer and cat adventure enthusiast. As a “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders, she has been writing in the pet industry for 10 years, with a focus on traveling and adventuring with cats. Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Read more about her here.