Dogs shouldn’t have all the fun! Did you know you can teach your cat to do agility? It doesn’t mean you have to enter kitty in any official agility games but you can create an indoor obstacle course to provide her with some extra fun and exercise.
An Easy Way to Begin
Start with something simple like having her walk through a paper bag tunnel to get to a treat. Cut the bottom out of a paper bag and make a tunnel. Hold a treat at one end so your cat will have to walk through the tunnel to get it. You can also purchase a soft-sided tunnel. Another option is to use a fishing pole-type toy to entice your cat through the tunnel. Wiggle the toy at one end so your kitty’s natural play desire will kick in and she’ll dart through the tunnel to get to it.
Clicker training is a great tool to use when teaching agility to your cat. Clicker training is something you may be familiar with when it comes to dog training but it’s a terrific way to help shape a cat’s behavior. “Click” when the cat performs the desired behavior and then reward her with a treat. There are many online sites that teach about clicker training. You can buy a clicker at your local pet product store.
Jumping Through Hoops
You can also teach your cat to jump through a hoop. Start by holding it low to the ground. Show her the toy on the other side. When she walks through the hoop, use a clicker to mark the behavior and then offer the food reward. Gradually raise the hoop higher so your cat has to eventually jump through it. You can then add the two challenges together so kitty can go jump through the hoop and then walk through the tunnel. Keep building the course one obstacle at a time.
A home-made agility course can be customized to fit your cat’s physical ability. What’s most important is that the training sessions are fun and not stressful. Don’t force your cat to go through an obstacle. If she doesn’t want to do it then perhaps the obstacle is too difficult, she’s tired or the food treat isn’t motivating enough. Try again later with something easier.
Here’s a video from CFA with lots of great information on cat agility.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.