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How to Teach a Cat to Fetch

Old Cat, New Tricks: Teach Your Cat to Fetch

Tricks and treats aren't just for the pups! Kitties who aspire to Olympic feats of greatness can learn an old doggie standby: playing fetch. With a little patience, a little catnip, and a few mouthwatering morsels, you can engage in rewarding playtime with your frisky friend just like the big dogs do. Let's have a ball!

  • Perfect timing. Choose a time when your cat is most active and before she's eaten. Try to avoid the times of day when she likes to take a nap.
  • Pick a plaything. Most pets have a favorite toy. Choose one that she can easily carry in her mouth, and preferably not one with super-tempting catnip already packed inside. See if you can get her to chase after it when you toss it a short distance. If that works, it's time to work on the fetching part.

Curious why the toy of choice shouldn't contain catnip? Find out when you keep reading.

  • Raid the catnip stash. This lesson's success comes from the addition of something special, so use a toy that doesn't already contain catnip. If the toy is already intriguing, we want to make it more so. Rub the toy in some of the green stuff until it grabs the scent.
  • Fetch! To start, toss the toy a short distance (say about five feet) and say "fetch" as you do so. If she chases it and takes the toy in her mouth, call her back to you, luring her over with a treat. Offer the treat and, as she drops the toy, give her the food, take the toy, and offer your words of praise. Gradually increase the distance of your toss as she picks up on the process.
  • Work through the problems. If she prefers to roll around with the toy, go over to her and hold a small bit of kibble by her nose to distract her. After you give her the food and offer words of praise, you can take the toy back and go to your original spot.

Eventually, she should associate both the word fetch and the action with getting a treat in exchange. Sooner or later, she can do this with no bonus food needed!

Image Source: Shutterstock
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