Is It Possible to Clicker Train Your Cat?

Clicker training your cat.

The idea of training your cat to do anything aside from use their litter box might be quite odious. Cats can be finicky when it comes to participation and involvement, but it is actually possible to clicker train your cat. Whether it’s using the toilet, going for walks on a leash, or performing tricks (can we get a high-five?), it’s all possible!

The Basics

Clicker. Treat. Repeat. 

A clicker is a small, handheld device that, when pressed, makes a double click sound. To get the most out of it, purchase one in your favorite color and shape. When you see your cat do something that you want more of, hit the clicker. This is also called “charging the clicker.” They will quickly associate their behavior with the sound of the clicker because you’ll give them a tasty reward. 

If they don’t hear the sound of the clicker or receive a treat after a task or behavior, they start to learn that it’s not a repeatable action. By pairing the sound of a clicker with a treat after they do something you like, they know what is “right.” This positive reinforcement training technique ignores the “bad” behavior and only gives attention to the “good.” The result is that you’ll see more positive, wanted behaviors.

Clicker Train Your Cat

This all sounds pretty easy, right? With the right balance of patience and consistency, clicker training can be a quick process (especially with cats!). 

To find fast success:

  • Keep your training sessions short and sweet (about 2-3 minutes). Remember to ignore your cat’s wrong choices and only reward the right ones. If they start to become bored, take your cues from them and try again later. 
  • Try not to have attachments to a particular outcome. Build on small skills over time.
  • Keep your actions precise. Clicks need to occur at the exact moment following the right behavior. Allowing too much time to lapse may not help your cat make the connection between the behavior and the clicker/treat.
  • Do not overfeed your cat. Offset the calories from their high-value training treats by reducing some calories in their meal portions. 
  • Conduct training sessions before meals, not after (they won’t be motivated by food if full).
  • Add verbal cues to help guide your cat to the right choice. 
  • If your cat displays fear or doubt about the sound of the clicker, try to muffle the sound by charging the clicker in a pocket or behind your back. 
  • Never scold or punish your cat if they show disinterest in clicker training. 

Neverending Fun

To clicker train your cat, start by using their name. When they respond to their name, click and treat. You can then graduate to the “come” command, or train them to find and touch certain household objects. Eventually, you can clicker train your cat to do all sorts of things, like go through hoops, use the toilet, go for walks, and much more.

If you have additional questions or concerns about the ways to clicker train your cat, please give us a call at (248) 646–5655.