Click to Train Your Cat!

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains clicker training for cats.

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Q: The videos of you clicker training cats has really piqued my interest! I am not really clear what clicker training is, but it looks like fun. Do you think my 12-year-old cat can be clicker trained?
A: Yes! You can teach an old cat new tricks. A couple of the videos on CatChannel feature Maulee, a 13-year-old Bengal. She loves clicker training and is always the first one in line to learn something new. I started clicker training her about two years ago, when she was 11.

Clicker training is a way of training cats and modifying their behavior without using punishment, based on positive reinforcement and rewarding desired behaviors. Through clicker training, cats can be taught tricks such as rolling over and jumping through hoops. But it is also very effective for eliminating unwanted behaviors and for bonding cats more with their human companions.

The first step in clicker training is to find something that motivates your cat. Most cats are food motivated, though some are motivated by affection or play. After you identify your cat's motivator, you'll need a device that makes a consistent sound. I use an i-Click clicker, a rectangular little box that makes a clicking noise when a button is pressed. By clicking, then giving your cat a treat, the cat will learn to associate the sound of the click with something positive. This is called “charging the clicker.” Depending on your cat, it might take about 12 clicks and treats until the cat makes the association between the sound of the clicker and something good. After your cat understands that the sound of the clicker is positive, you can use the clicker to build and shape desired behaviors. The clicker is used as a communication tool -- marking good behaviors and communicating to your cat that it is doing something right.

Click here to watch Marilyn's new clicker training video, Clicker Training Made Simple.

You can find out more about clicker training in the upcoming March 2008 issue of CAT FANCY.

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Reader Comments

Kala    Portland, OR

4/21/2011 11:39:12 AM

I saw this (click training your cat) in the cat fancy magazine, and although we have already been training our baby to do tricks like sit, stay, roll over, high-five, and things like leave-it, she wasnt as enthused to do these things. I bought just your average dog clicker and now she loves to do these tricks, she now gets excited to do these things. We love the clicker. Its great bonding time to have with her.

cat lady    cat lover, CO

8/13/2009 3:35:49 PM

cool! i have a cat that is 18 years old (even though he acts like a kitten :) ) unfortunately he is deaf so he couldn't do this, but i think it is an absolutely WONDERFUL thing to do. also, i am a foster parent for kittens and if you are too, buy a clicker like i did! teach them tricks, get them out of bad habits, such as nibbling you, or anything! they get adopted much quicker and it is really fun!

Eileen    Roanoke, VA

3/29/2009 3:48:40 AM

I need to try this
my kitchen was destroyed last night

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