Cat Training: How to Teach Your Cat to Sit
Food is a powerful tool in the world of animal training. Dogs learn how to sit, stay, and paw with the enticement of a treat. Seals are taught tricks for amusement with the guarantee of fish. So why haven’t we heard of cats being trained too?
Can You Really Train a Cat?
Yes, our fuzzy friends love to lounge all day. But if you want to teach your cat a cool trick, invest in some quality treats and a clicker. My cat, Honey, loves Feline Greenies Dental Treats. You can find them online through Chewy or at Pet Smart for under $4. I also found a pack of three clickers for $3 on Amazon. The clicker is entirely optional, but both are worthwhile investments.
Steps to Training Your Cat to Sit
Having an alluring treat makes it much easier to reward a behavior that you want to teach your cat.
- Kneel down and get on your cat’s level. You want to make sure your cat has had a chance to smell and taste the treat.
- Then, you pick a hand gesture to represent the behavior. I personally hold the treat between three fingers, facing up. This will make it easier to guide the treat above your cat’s head, so they adjust their body to look at it. An ideal place to hold the treat is between the ears.
- The moment he or she sits is when you say, “Sit,” and give the treat. Your cat will grasp the idea of, "Hey, if I do that, I get a treat every time!"
Honey goes wild over her oven-roasted chicken treats—she’ll meow and pace the room, giving me her attention the whole time.
Karen Pryor developed the clicker training that we see in the animal world today. She was once a dolphin trainer and is a favored icon of mine. Clickers mark a desired behavior with positive reinforcements. A clicker may help with the progress of teaching your cat to sit. It makes a sound that animals can easily associate with getting a reward. An alternative way to click is using your mouth to mimic the sound. You want to make sure you use the clicker once an action is done, followed by a reward to validate that action.
Please reference the video below to understand how to use a clicker. Dogs and cats are very different, so training methods are expected to look diverse. Notice how she clicks once the pup is sitting down and immediately gives the treat.
When to Click
Practice and Patience Are Needed
Keep in mind that a feeding schedule is important in keeping your cat happy and healthy. It will also help with getting your cat’s attention. I recommend starting with a 3–5 minute session, at least 30 minutes before mealtime. That way, your cat is attentive for food and her tummy will settle with the treats she will earn.
Practice and patience are definitely needed to teach your cat to sit. Please remember that all cats are special in their own way. I can’t say that this technique will be successful for everyone, but it is achievable. Your cat may become frustrated during a session—it is important to leave them alone during this time and try again tomorrow. Never punish your cat for not doing something right. The last thing we would want as loving cat owners is for our fuzzball(s) to associate us with something negative.
Training Is Mutually Rewarding
Training my cat has definitely grown our relationship. Honey is just like any other cat in the feline world. She loves taking naps, playing with her mouse toys, and jumping on the kitchen counter. She can be trouble sometimes, but having her respond to my voice has been helpful in managing that.
As of now, Honey can “sit” and “wait” while I get her meals ready. If I hear her getting into something, I’ll simply say, “Honey, come here." Moments later, her bell jingles as she strolls down the hallway to find me. Since training her, Honey seems more confident and comfortable in our home. Who doesn't love a happy and cuddly kitty?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.