How to teach your cat to sit and give high five

Each month we will feature a video on how to train pets to do tricks. Too often dogs take the limelight in this department so we thought it would be novel to start off this segment using our beautiful cat Meeko. In the video he shows us just how clever he really is. Why not have some fun with your cat and teach them a trick or two. 

Method for SIT

  • Place your lure (treat or toy) at your cat’s nose level.  Slowly move the lure up over the nose, in between the eyes and back toward the ears.
  • Normally the cat will try to follow the lure, and in their attempt to do so, their hindquarters usually sink to the floor into the sit position.
  • As soon as their bottom hits the floor you need to praise and treat immediately! This way you mark the point of behaviour you were looking for.
  • Repeat this step three times. Once you get them sitting reliably you need to introduce your verbal cue. To do this you say SIT right when their bottom hits the floor. 
  • Now you have shaped your cat into the sit position and labelled what they are doing.
  • TAKE A BREAK then come back and repeat these steps three times to make sure your cat is sitting consistently. In other words they know what you want them to do and they understand the exercise.
  • This is when you need to fade your lure, as you do not want to have to have a treat or toy handy every time you want your cat to sit. In other words we do not want the lure to turn into a bribe.  Which it will if you lure for too long!
  • To fade the lure you need to introduce your hand signal, which is similar to the luring motion. So instead of luring anymore, you are now going to ask your cat to sit by using your verbal cue, accompanied by your hand signal. These need to be given at exactly the same time as each other.  
  • As soon as they do sit you need to praise and reward them from your other hand.
  • Note – If you have trouble luring your cat into a sit here are some points that may help.
  • If your cat keeps backing up when you are trying to lure and shape them into a sit, try doing this with their back facing into a corner junction of some cupboards perhaps. This will mean that when their bottom comes into contact with the corner junction they will sit, instead of continuing to back up.
  • If your cat is jumping up for the lure, simply bring it back down to their nose level, and don’t raise it so they will jump again.
  • Make sure your hand movements are slow and deliberate. 
  • If you or your cat are becoming frustrated as you are not succeeding – TAKE A BREAK
  • Remember to keep your training sessions short and fun
  • If they are simply not interested don’t take it personally. Cats unlike dogs are not as motivated to please us and may find your attempts beneath them! 

Method for High Five

  • Place your lure (treat or toy) in between you first two fingers and hold it nice and firmly.
  • Present your hand in the high five position between the cats nose and shoulder level
  • Wait and see what behaviour your cat offers you. They may try to eat the lure (if it is a treat) from between your fingers so squeeze them together tightly so they don’t succeed.
  • Hopefully they will raise their paw to see if they can get the lure that way.
  • The moment they do you must praise and reward them by giving them the lure as a reward.
  • Once they are doing this reliably it is time to introduce your verbal cue. So next time they raise their paw to your hand you say ‘’HIGH FIVE’’ and give them the lure as a reward.
  • TAKE A BREAK then come back and repeat these steps three times to make sure your cat is giving you High Five consistently. In other words they know what you want them to do and they understand the exercise.
  • This is when you need to fade your lure, as you do not want to have to have a treat or toy between your fingers every time you want your cat to give you high five.  In other words we do not want the lure to turn into a bribe.  Which it will if you lure for too long!
  • To fade the lure you need to leave your hand in the high five position without it between your fingers. So instead of luring anymore, you are now going to ask your cat to give you high five by using your verbal cue, accompanied by your hand signal.  These need to be given at exactly the same time as each other.  
  • Put up the palm of your hand in the high five position and say “HIGH FIVE” and as soon as they raise their paw to your palm you need to praise and reward them from your other hand.

THIS TRICK CAN BE TAUGHT TO DOGS AS WELL USING EXACTLY THE SAME METHOD!