Stupid Cat Tricks
May 2, 2018 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I have a really smart, really sociable cat who could use more entertainment than she gets from chasing my kids around all day. I have trained her to come when I call, and to get off the table when I say "down!" (although not to not get on the table in the first place but whatev). This consistently blows people's minds. What are some tricks I could teach my cat, to keep her busy and entertained, and amaze all my friends when they visit?

I have a clicker, and treats.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Pets & Animals (29 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
To fetch. But I have no idea how to teach a cat to do it. I just had one that taught me to play fetch with her. :)
posted by stormyteal at 12:14 PM on May 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Cat agility course
posted by briank at 12:17 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I taught my cat to sit when I feed her. I tell her to “Be polite!” and she sits and then I give her her food. (I actually did this because she was shoving her head at the bowl as I was trying to put it down, spilling food everywhere, but it’s also pretty cute.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

i taught one of my cats how to high-five. people lose their shit. basically i would pet her, then stop, then move my hand away so she had to reach for it to get petted more/treats. now all i have to do is put my hand up in front of her in a high-five gesture and she high fives me back.

my other two cats are too dumb to high-five.
posted by kerning at 12:22 PM on May 2, 2018 [23 favorites]

I've also taught my cat to sit, by lifting a treat/food bowl high enough that she needs to sit to look up at it, until she figured out what would make the food come down again.

(We've also taught her that she gets cream as thanks for catching mice, so in the fall when they are dumb enough to come in, she goes to the fridge and meows at that with a mouth full of sometimes-still-living mouse.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:24 PM on May 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Oh, as to how... since I was already feeding her and that was kind of the point, I didn’t need treats or a clicker. At first, I just waited for her to sit down by her food dish on her own at around the right time and I gave her the command and the food. After about a week or so of that, I started giving the command at the right time, repeating it over and over again until she happened to sit. It only took her a week or so to get it.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:27 PM on May 2, 2018

Our very smart kitty walks on a leash. I'm not sure that's trainable, but it's something to try.
posted by Dashy at 12:27 PM on May 2, 2018

You can train a cat to poop in a toilet. I got halfway there and gave up. My cat would get up on the seat and poop into a bowl of litter that I had down in the toilet bowl. Eventually you're supposed to be able to remove the bowl of litter and they'll just poop in the toilet. Apparently you can teach them to flush but you can't teach them not to flush so they'll just sit there and flush the toilet all day long.

If you google around you'll find instructions, and I think they even make kits that have plastic bowls that fit a toilet perfectly.

I think there might be some health reason why you're not supposed to flush cat poop but, whatevs, you've got a cat who poops in the toilet so your karma comes out even.
posted by bondcliff at 12:28 PM on May 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Disclosure: I have never viewed the DVD, but I have seen the cat circus people who made it, and the show is an absolutely spectacular hour and a half of absurdist joy. The finale involves getting a bunch of cats to play in a band together with a chicken. Also, sometimes, a woodchuck that wears a tiny hat.

(As a side note, the lady who ran the cat circus explained the easiest thing to do was to choose an activity the cat already did, and then teach the cat to associate that activity with treats/praise, so that it would do it on command at least some of the time.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:42 PM on May 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

I mean, just look at this.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Get Karen Pryors Clicker training for cats or get it from the library. It's very thin but will give you the basics.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm voting poop in the toilet too. I've taught a cat to high five also.
posted by jeather at 12:55 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve trained my cat to high five and it was easy to get him to stand on his hind legs and high five after that.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 1:00 PM on May 2, 2018

It might be useful to teach her to go to a box and sit in it. Here's a piece (with videos) about how to do this in the IAABC Journal: Training a kitten to "go to box". (IAABC is the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.)
posted by chromium at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I grew up with a cat who learned "go find a toy" when we tried to teach that to the dog (and failed). She'd run off and come back with the closest pair of socks or stuffed animal or feather toy thing in her mouth, but always just far enough away that we'd have to get up and walk across the room to play with her. I bet you could deliberately teach something similar to your cat.
posted by Mizu at 1:35 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Triceratops plays fetch - I trained her by throwing her favorite toy and then blocking her as she tried to run into the next room with it in her mouth and stealing it so I could throw it again.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:44 PM on May 2, 2018

I had a very, very dumb cat who learned to fetch with a bit of encouragement. His gateway was a tennis ball can lid that he batted around the floor one day, and I tossed it like a frisbee so he'd run after it. Eventually he learned to pick it up and bring it to me so I'd toss it.

Our current cats discovered (on their own) that wine corks make good toys, and they will occasionally carry them upstairs and deposit them on our bed, but they haven't quite connected that hunting instinct with the idea of fetch.

One of them is pretty good at standing up on two feet, but she's not treat motivated at all so I haven't been able to train her to do it at will.
posted by fedward at 2:13 PM on May 2, 2018

I've taught my cat to sit on command and I'm working on getting her to consistently follow a target stick, as a lead-in to more agility training.
posted by 4rtemis at 2:34 PM on May 2, 2018

Fonzie sits and stands and twirls, also naturally does a solid Chewbacca imitation. He doesn’t come when I call, but there is a hand command we use. He will reply back on some word commands.

Standing lessons haven’t gone so well. The up and twirl were the best results from that endeavor. But I still have hope.

I really really want to teach him to shake hands or high five. I’m following this thread to see if there’s anything else he might do.

But he doesn’t do any of this because he’s smart, he just thinks he’s a dog. My other cat, Sweet Potato, would be caught dead doing any of this bullshit.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 2:39 PM on May 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I saw someone on the internet taught their cat to touch their paw to their mouth to ask for a treat, so I tried it with my cat. edit: the video.

My cat apparently doesn't have the dexterity of the internet cat, but he does raise his paw up towards his face, palm out, more like a half-hearted wave goodbye, so that's as good as it gets so he gets a treat.

The only side-effect is now, if he wants what I'm eating, he is very aggressive about doing his trick, to the point that he will tap my arm and then do his trick, because I'm clearly too dumb to see he's doing a good job at asking for a treat.

yeah, then I give him a little bite of what I'm eating which probably doesn't help

Edit: It started with "sit", he did a pretty good job of that but it's hard to tell between him obeying "sit" and him just deciding to sit down.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:55 PM on May 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

Roll over is a fairly easy one, just keep chirping, "roll over" while they are flopping around and soon they will flop around when you say "roll over."

I so wanted to teach my most trainable cat to ring a bell for a treat, but after a few sessions she hissed at me in a way that was clearly, "You are making my head hurt!" so we ended that experiment.
posted by jamaro at 3:13 PM on May 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

My boyfriend had a lovely cat that when he pointed finger guns at her and said "reach for the sky" she would stand and stretch her front legs up, and then he'd say "bang" and she'd lie down and play dead. It was so cute
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:19 PM on May 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

(but eventually he stopped doing it because he started feeling guilty about pretending to shoot his cat)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:22 PM on May 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Our cat rings a bell when she wants to come in from the porch ( we hung one of her bell toys next to the door and she figured it out). I imagine we could connect this to other 'requests' but we haven't tried. And now that I think of it, ringing a bell to get *us* to do something actually sounds more like she had trained us....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:52 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

My former neighbor with the leash trained cats used to say that the trick to training a cat is to find something he likes to do and encourage it.

My younger cat is really good at the shell game with treats.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:00 PM on May 2, 2018

We could answer this question even more effectively with a picture of the cat, or possibly a video to assess her existing skills.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:01 PM on May 2, 2018 [13 favorites]

Jumping through a hoop, or a hoop of your arms.
Getting up on your shoulder.
Rolling over.
Meowing on command.
Sit prettily.
posted by Hypatia at 7:41 PM on May 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I taught our cat to High Five and Sit. She's very food motivated so it was relatively easy to train her with some treats.

She also vocally responds when I say "do you want some milk?" and "want a snack?". I swear she actually says "milk" (more like "meoaaaawwlk") and "yes" (sounds like "yeep")
posted by like_neon at 7:29 AM on May 3, 2018

Jumping through a hoop is a real crowd-pleaser. My cat picked it up easily, by first training him to walk through the hoop to get food on the other side, then slowly raising the hoop. He'll also follow up with a 'sit' so he can get his reward of squash innards (apparently the best food on earth).
posted by Gortuk at 8:45 AM on May 3, 2018

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