This is probably the most common command you’d associate with a dog. But, it’s a myth to believe that you can’t teach a cat to do the same, and more.
It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, the saying goes. The same principle applies to cats, although it is easier when both are either puppies or kittens. Find out the secret to training your cat to sit as we take you through the process step by step.
To train your cat successfully you’ll need plenty of patience and lots of treats. Achievable goals will be to get them to respond when you call their name and even sit or lie down when you ask them.
There are often key benefits from some careful training. It makes handling and grooming your pet much easier, for example. It’s best to begin any training when your cat is as young as possible. Older or infirm cats might find it all too difficult.
Training helps to keep your cat’s mind active and strengthens your bond with them. It might even help to get your cat away from a potentially dangerous situation.
A Step-by-Step Process
Begin in a peaceful room where there are few distractions. Have some tasty treats to hand that don’t need much chewing and are easy to swallow. Here are the 5 stages you need to follow:
- Place the first treat between the end of your second finger and thumb. Keep the palm of your hand facing upwards.
- Kneel, sit or stand in front of the cat with the treat an inch or so away from their nose.
- Gradually raise the treat up away from your cat’s nose. What should happen is that they carry on staring at it and look up as you lift the treat.
- When the treat is a few inches above them, begin to move it back towards your cat’s tail. If they carry on staring at the treat as you move, they should get into the seated position. This may not happen immediately so be ready to hold the treat in position for a while.
- Once your cat sits, say a clear, “Yes” out loud and give them the treat. If you have a cat that enjoys following treats, throw one a few feet away from them so that they move to a new position. If not, you’ll need to move to a new place and be ready to begin the game once more.
Repeat these first 5 steps as many times as possible so that your cat associates sitting with getting a treat.
Cutting Down on Treats in the Hand
When your cat reaches a consistent level of sitting for their treat, you can slowly begin to change your hand movement.
Place the hand that’s holding the treat in front of your cat. Quickly flick your wrist upwards as the signal for your cat to sit. Once they sit, say your clear, “Yes” and offer them the treat.
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Once your cat has grasped the meaning of this signal, you can begin to cut down the dependence on treats.
Try putting your hand into your treat bag and simply pretend to take one out. Present your hand to your cat as you’ve been doing before and repeat all the same steps in the training process. Once your cat sits, say your clear, ”Yes” as always and then grab a treat from the bag to give to them.
Using Verbal Cues
Keep practicing and then try presenting your hand leaving out the pretending part. The hope is that your cat will sit on the command of your hand signal alone. The important point is always to say a clear, “Yes” when they sit and to give them a treat.
Once you and your cat have succeeded in a good level of consistency in the training you can begin to try using a verbal cue along with the visual one.
Do everything as usual but the moment before you give the normal hand signal, say the cue word you’ve chosen out loud. Any cue word will work. Cats respond to the sound and not the meaning of the word.
You could also use a clicker or plastic device that makes a distinctive clicking noise instead of a verbal cue.
Once you’ve practiced this over and over again, your cat will start to associate the sound with sitting. They will anticipate the hand signal and sit when you say the cue word.
When you’ve trained your cat to sit on cue, you can begin to try standing further away from your cat and encourage them to remain sitting for longer periods.
Cats, like other animals, learn through positive reinforcement. You should never punish your cat if they don’t do exactly as you wish. You must never use force. Keep the training sessions to no longer than 5 minutes and always end them on a positive note.
Try and find times to train when your cat isn’t tired but might be a bit hungry. The treats will then have more appeal.
Give Yourselves a High-Five!
You can adapt all the sitting techniques to teach your cat to make other actions. Use an extra special reward such as a piece of fish or chicken to get your cat to use its natural paw action.
Hold the treat above their nose and they will reach up to tap it with their paw. The moment they do this, say your command cue word out loud. Again, this can be any word you like.
You can practice this routine every day so that you’ll soon be receiving high-fives whenever you want them!
Training Is Great for Cats and Their Owners
Training your cat offers an opportunity for some important mental exercise. It’s also a chance for you to bond more with your cat. To train successfully, you’ll need plenty of patience and positivity.
We’ve plenty more useful articles in our blog section. For example, find out why your cat might be drinking more than usual here. A video consultation with one of Cooper Pet Care’s qualified veterinarians is also only a few clicks away. Fast, simple, and secure – get the answers you need.
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