Cat training is an important part of traveling and adventuring with your cat. If you try to take your cat out on a walk or hike without any kind of training, chances are it won’t go very well for either of you.
There’s the obvious harness and leash training, but you might be wondering what other kind of training skills are useful for adventuring. There are actually several different skills you can train your cat to perform that will make your adventures both easier AND safer!
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me to continue creating helpful content. Don’t worry – I would never recommend something I don’t like or use myself!
Clicker Training a Cat – How and Why?
If you’re newer to the cat adventure world, you might now be thinking something along the lines of, “Wait a second… cats can be trained?” The belief that cats are NOT trainable is a common misconception. Cats can actually be quite trainable, and it’s an excellent way to enrich your cat’s life.
And now you may be wondering, “Okay, but HOW do I train my cat?” Though there are different training styles and methods, we are fans of cat training with a clicker – also known as clicker training.
Clicker training is a science-based method that can be used with any animal to teach them a new skill. You use a small tool called a clicker that makes a clicking sound, and whenever you click, your cat gets a treat. The key to successful cat training with a clicker is to click at the exact moment your cat performs the desired behavior.
Besides the fact that training is necessary for adventures, there are several reasons why clicker training a cat is recommended. Julie Posluns from Cat School lists 10 reasons why you should clicker train your cat:
- It increases physical activity.
- It works your cat’s brain.
- It can help your cat sleep better.
- It helps overcome boredom.
- You can use it to teach your cat practical behaviors (which we’ll be sharing more about in this article!)
- It strengthens the bond you share with your cat.
- It can be used to solve problem behavior.
- You can use it to entertain friends and teach your cat that strangers are fun.
- It can help your cat overcome fears and build confidence.
- It will make your cat happier!
Practical Skills to Teach Your Adventuring Cat
Perhaps you’ve seen the videos online of cats performing all kinds of tricks, like jumping through a hoop, ringing a bell, spinning on command, etc. While those tricks are certainly fun and enriching for your cat, they don’t do much to help with adventuring. There are several skills you can train your cat to perform though that WILL enhance your adventures and even make them safer.
Teaching your cat to sit is usually the first skill that is recommended. It’s easy, and it can come in handy when you’re out with your cat. You can use it to get your cat’s attention if they get distracted or spooked by something, and you can also use it to get your cat to pose for cute adventure photos.
Though a more advanced skill, teaching your cat to stay or wait is a good skill to have. If a dangerous situation were to arise, you could ask your cat to “stay” or “wait” for the situation to improve or the danger to pass.
Recall is when you call your cat and you can reliably expect them to come to you. This is perhaps one of the most useful skills when it comes to adventuring with your cat. If they were to ever slip out of their harness, you’d be able to call them to you and hopefully not worry about them running off.
The jump command is fun for encouraging your cat to jump to and from different surfaces when you’re out and about.
Target training is when you teach your cat to touch a target (like a target stick or your finger) for a reward. Whether you use your finger or a target stick, you can use this skill to lead your cat in certain directions. Say you want to lead your cat around a mud puddle, for example.
Getting in and out of carrier/backpack/stroller on command
Your cat’s backpack or stroller is one of the most useful tools for adventuring. If you train your cat to jump in on command, you can ideally utilize that skill in emergency situations or just when you need your cat to quickly get in their backpack/stroller. That way you don’t have to fight your cat to get them inside.
Getting on top of the backpack/shoulders
This skill can be used for similar reasons as asking your cat to get in their backpack/stroller on command. If your cat isn’t the biggest fan of riding inside their backpack, riding on your shoulders or on top of their backpack is a nice compromise.
(You can find an exclusive how-to training video for this skill in our KittyCatGO Trailblazers community!)
“Leave it” is great for those times you come across something the ground you don’t want your cat to mess with – like a bug, snake, toxic plant, etc.
If you’re looking for more details and cat training tips on how to train these specific skills, we recommend checking out Cat School! Julie has some awesome YouTube videos, cat training articles, and even a membership community.
KittyCatGO LIVE – Season 1, Episode 4
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.