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I’ve seen videos online over the years of cats doing cool tricks, as I’m sure you have too. I’ve always thought, “That’s so cool! I wish my cats could do that!” but had never taken any steps to actually train them. Like so many other people, I thought it would be too time consuming and difficult. But a couple months ago, someone in our KCC Adventure Cats group on Facebook recommended checking out Cat School. I took her recommendation, and “enrolled” both Sampson and Kylo Ren — meaning, I got a clicker and started training with the Cat Training Kit!
I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they caught on. Kylo and Sampy both learned to “sit” in about 5 minutes. They’ve since learned a handful of other tricks, and I’ve even started working with Delilah and Caster as well. My goal is for all 7 cats to eventually know at least a few basic commands like “come,” “sit,” and “stay.” The kitties really seem to enjoy their training, and so do I. It’s been so much fun!
Check out all the tricks Sampson has learned!
Besides being fun, clicker training has several practical applications as well, especially for adventure cats.
1. Clicker training strengthens the bond between you and your cat.
One of the benefits of adventuring with your cat is the bonding that happens as a result. It’s simple – engaging in activities with your cat strengthens the bond the two of you share. The same holds true with clicker training. Learning together, performing tricks together, and having an activity to share together will strengthen your relationship. Who doesn’t want that?
Being strongly bonded with your cat is definitely an asset when traveling and adventuring with him. If you and your cat are bonded, he will be more likely to stick close to you when out and about. He will also be more likely to follow along with you for walks and hikes. With a strong bond comes trust as well, which is needed as you introduce him to bigger adventures!
2. If your cat is clicker trained, it will make your adventure cat training easier.
In order to have the safest and best experience possible, adventure kitties should have a good grasp of some basic skills: wearing a harness, walking on a leash, and coming on command, just to name a few. Though most cats are capable of learning these skills, they aren’t always the easiest things to teach, especially if you don’t have a training system in place. However, if your cat already has experience with clicker training, incorporating the clicker into your adventure cat training sessions can make things like learning to leash walk, getting used to riding in a carrier, or even using the litter box before going out much easier.
3. Clicker training comes in handy in emergency situations.
It’s happened to me before… that moment when your heart stops because your cat just slipped out of his harness while out on an adventure. At the time it happened with Kylo Ren, he was not trained at all. Thankfully my husband was able to catch him before it was too late, but the situation could have been much worse. While I certainly hope that an emergency situation like your cat slipping out of his harness never happens to you, it’s always good to be prepared just in case! Now that Kylo has learned to “come” on command, I know that the chances of him running off if he were to ever slip out of his harness again are much slimmer.
4. Clicker training is a great way to keep your cat engaged on days that you can’t get out on an adventure.
I don’t know about you, but I am not able to get out with my cats on a daily basis. Heck, I’m lucky to get them out on an adventure even twice a month. Especially if it’s really hot or really cold out. During those times that I’m not able to take my cats out, either because of the weather or a busy work schedule, having clicker training sessions with them makes for a great alternative activity. It’s recommended to keep training sessions down to about 5-10 minutes at a time, so you can squeeze one in even on a busy day. It is mentally and physically stimulating as well. While it certainly doesn’t take the place of an outdoor adventure, it serves as a good substitute!
5. Clicker training can enhance your adventures, making them even more exciting!
Since I started training Kylo Ren, I’ve been bringing his clicker with us out on adventures. We have little mini sessions while we’re out and about. It’s added a whole new level of fun to his outings, and he seems to enjoy it. As he learns more tricks, I’ll be able to incorporate those into the adventures as well. Can’t wait to get him jumping over and through things, playing in the trees, walking along ledges… the possibilities are endless. Think of all the cool tricks YOU could teach YOUR cat and then how you could use those tricks while outdoors!
Bonus: If your cat learns to “sit” and “stay,” it will make taking photos much easier! 🙂
6. Clicker training can help to keep your adventure cat calm and focused if a stressful situation should arise.
One of the best ways to tell if your cat is stressed while traveling or on an adventure is to give them some treats or food and see if they eat it. If your cat will eat while out, then he most likely feels pretty safe and comfortable. If your cat refuses his treats or food, then he is likely stressed or overwhelmed. You can do this same test with your cat’s tricks. If your cat will perform his tricks while you’re out, then he is probably feeling pretty good.
Besides using clicker training to test how your cat is feeling, you can also use it to keep him focused in a stressful situation. For example, say a dog starts barking or even just walking in your general direction. To keep your kitty from being distracted by these potentially scary things, you can try to focus his attention on you and your training session. Use the training to help redirect his focus. This can help to keep him calm rather than getting stressed or freaked out. It may not always work completely depending on the cat and the situation, but it will certainly help!
7. Clicker training is fun and easier than you probably think it is!
If you haven’t already picked up on how much fun clicker training is, then I don’t know what else to say about that. Just trust me… it’s fun. It’s also not nearly as difficult as you probably think it is. As I said before, Kylo Ren and Sampson were able to learn “sit” in just 5 minutes. I’ve only been working with them for about a month, and they’ve learned several tricks like fist bumping, jumping through my arms, and jumping onto different surfaces. I don’t clicker train every day either.
You may be asking yourself, “Okay, so you say it’s not hard, but how do I get started?” We use the Cat Training Kit from Cat School! It comes with a clicker, a telescoping target stick/clicker combo, a booklet with step-by-step directions on how to teach various tricks and behaviors, AND access to Cat School’s online course for beginners. In my opinion, the online course alone is worth the cost. It has step-by-step directions for different tricks as well as instructional videos. It also has a comment forum where you can post videos and ask Julie, the teacher, for help. IT’S THE BEST!
Since I know we’ve convinced you to give clicker training a try, we wish you the best of luck! Have fun, and Happy Training! 😀
Interested in getting started on your adventuring journey? Check out our Adventure Starter Kits below!