When you think of clicker training, you probably think of dogs. If you’ve heard of clicker training, chances are you’ve seen it being done in the middle of your local pet product store during puppy training classes. What about the idea of doing clicker training with a cat? You’re probably giggling right this very moment, right? Everyone knows cats can’t be trained. Really? Well, how about the fact that kitty runs right into the kitchen every time she hears you pop open the top of the cat food can? Hmm, in my opinion that indicates that she has learned to associate a particular sound with a desirable reward.
Why Clicker Train Your Cat?
Clicker training helps your cat feel more in control in her environment. This type of training offers her a choice – and choice is very powerful when it comes to a cat feeling in control versus backed in a corner. When your cat feels more in control in her environment she’ll relax more and be less inclined to exhibit negative behaviors. She’ll also realize that offering desirable behavior gets her a reward but an undesirable behavior offers nothing. Cats are very smart so they quickly figure out that desirable behavior is more beneficial.
Clicker training offers you an effective communication tool to use with your cat. You can click and reward for subtle behaviors you normally wouldn’t be able to acknowledge.
You’ll need a clicker. This is a small device that makes a cricket-type sound. The reason we use a clicker is that it’s a unique sound in the environment so kitty will know when she hears it, she has done something desirable. The clicker is used to “mark” the behavior you want from your cat when it’s displayed. The clicker communicates to the cat that a very specific behavior is desirable. Since most cats are very food-motivated you will immediately follow a click with a food reward. The cat learns the sound of the click means a reward will follow.
Clickers are available at your local pet product store as well as online. For timid cats who might be afraid of the clicker sound you can use the click of a ballpoint pen.