Can you Teach a Cat to Play Fetch?
We have two dogs and recently rescued a cat from the shelter. We live in a farm community and was hoping for some help with the rodents! Our two dogs love to play fetch and we know it is great exercise for them. We were wondering if we can teach the cat to fetch too? She loves to run and play with the dogs, but will she fetch?
CATcher in the Rye
Of course you can teach cat to fetch, especially if they are willing and motivated to learn! Just look at these guys:
Instinctually, cats are hunters, so chasing things, whether it’s a mouse or a cat toy, comes naturally. Bringing it back is the challenge. But just as with dogs, if you make the incentive for returning the toy greater than keeping it, you can train them to bring it back.
Here’s some tips on teaching your cat to play fetch – which by the way is GREAT exercise for your cat!
- Make sure the toy you are asking them to retrieve is a toy the enjoy playing with – maybe it has some catnip in it or it’s a toy that he particularly loves, but that you restrict access to.
- Get your cat excited and interested in the toy and then toss it a few feet away. The cat will chase after it. If they don’t, it’s either not that interested in the toy or you didn’t provide enough stimulation.
- Now the hard part – the return! We suggest initially going and getting the toy back from your cat, replacing the toy with a treat.
- Return to the original spot where you tossed the toy and repeat.
- Slowly work to get your cat to come back to you and give up the toy, using the treats as an incentive.
As with any training session, your response and behavior is most important. For a game like this, you should be excited and praise your cat when he does it right. Don’t work on it for too long so that your cat gets tired or bored, start with short sessions so that they remain fun. Good Luck!