We have all seen dogs everywhere play the fetch game with their owners. From sticks in the wild to newspapers and mail and fancy toys that are specifically made for the game of fetch, we have been lauding dogs for having the capacity to fetch things for their owners.
On the other hand, cats are considered to be nonchalant creatures who only do what pleases them. Well fair enough. But then, haven’t we come far in the domestication of cats as well? So the main question is, can cats play fetch? The answer is yes!
Can Cats Play Fetch?
It is believed that dogs are more people-pleasers than their feline counterparts. They are trained to keep humans company in an engaging way whereas cats are mostly just there as a presence. It depends on the person’s affinity with their cat and what kind of dynamic they want.
However, a lot of studies have pointed out the fact that you can train your cat to play fetch with you just like a dog would.
This is because cats have the predator instinct to go after things, and if channelled in the right direction, they can be trained to go and retrieve things for their owners. Truth be told, a lot of primate animals are capable of getting things, it’s just that it never seems to cross their minds. If they are born with instincts, they may use them for some other purpose, or lose them out gradually in some centuries due to disuse,
in the process of evolution.
How Do You Train Your Cat To Play Fetch?
Now that you know that your cat is also capable of playing a game of fetch, the question arises – how do you get it to play?
Andrea Tu, medical director at Behavior Vets in New York City has talked about it. According to her, you have to condition the cat into receiving its favourite treat when it fetches a ball or a stick. This will become habitual and whenever it will see a ball or a stick being thrown, its mind will associate it with the fact that it gets rewarded, and it will instinctively go to retreat it.
What All Do You Need To Do To Teach Your Cat To Fetch?
While this phenomenon outlines the basics, here are some more pointers and detailed steps for you to keep in mind when you are trying to train your cat. First off, you need a ball that has a texture that your cat likes, or is used to. Another thing you need is your cat’s favourite treats. Apart from these two obvious things, you also need a clicker. Clicker training along with snacks helps get the cat ready for things. Clicker training helps induce go behaviour in your cat and can help in teaching them tricks and such. It will help immensely with the fetch training.
Keep the ball a little away from your cat’s face and make your cat focus on it as the object of concern. Click and give the cat a treat when she touches it with her nose or sniffs it. Repeat until your cat finishes the reward and is seeking the ball.
Hold off clicking when your cat touches the ball once it reaches the stage when it does so every time it is displayed. The cat will then pause, turn to face you, and consider its next move.
Her open mouth touching the ball is the next action you’ll click. Your cat may try something different, like placing her slightly parted mouth on the ball, after reflecting on why she didn’t receive a click when she contacted the ball. Keep an eye out for it, and when it does, click to treat.
We would like to mention that don’t go overboard in your first session and to take it slowly and carefully so that it gets ingrained in your cat’s psyche and it is not overwhelmed. This also applies to all the steps mentioned, as your cat needs time to retain it all and make it a part of her behaviour.
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Hold the ball out once again, and click when your cat touches it with an open mouth. Proceed with rewarding it. Continue doing this until the cat exhibits the behaviour of putting her open mouth on the ball on a regular basis.
In front of you, place the ball on the ground. Click and give your cat treats when they touch the ball, whether their mouth is closed or open. Take the ball away once your cat has finished the treat, then place it again at a different location on the floor.
Place the ball on the ground and watch for the cat to roll or bite the ball enough to move it with her open mouth. If your cat displays one of these actions, click before rewarding it. Once more, click when the cat offers to bite or pick you up (even if just for a brief moment). When the ball is in your mouth and near the finish of the pickup, start clicking.
Place the ball further from your cat. When your cat turns, picks up the ball, and turns to face you, you click and give them a treat. Repeat this, each time moving the ball a little bit farther away from you. Congratulations, your cat is now trained in fetch!
The key is to be patient with your cat and not rush any of the steps. Observe your cat’s behaviour and if it looks overwhelmed or tired, stop for the day or go back to the previous step.
And when your cat learns how to fetch and other such tricks, you can become the talk of the town with your impressive and intelligent feline friend! Turns out, that when Regina George asked Gretchen to stop trying to make fetch happen in the Mean Girls, she was entirely wrong. Fetch can happen!