What You Need To Know To Train Your Cat To Shake Hands
People often say that you can train dogs, but not cats. In actual fact that is not true. There are plenty of things that you can train your cat to do, including coming at your command, using the bathroom, and even shaking hands. Yep, you heard me right: you can train a cat to shake hands! This is an excellent party trick and a great way for you to impress your human friends – and other cats. Not all cats can take to this trick, but there are a few simple steps that you can take to try. So read on and find out what you need to know to train your cat to shake hands.
Prime your cat to earn rewards
Cats will do plenty of tricks if their is a delicious treat on offer by way of a reward. One good thing to do is to link the reward (for instance, a tiny piece of succulent fish) with a particular work (like ‘Good Boy!’) said in a soothing, positive voice. Or, you can make things easier by purchasing a clicker and making a ‘click’ sound every time you provide the cat with a reward.
Spend a week training your cat to associate the reward with the clicker sound or with your chosen phrase. Don’t overdo it, perhaps wait for a time each day when your cat seems awake and ready to play and offer them a few rewards accompanied with your chosen sound or phrase until the association is firm in their mind.
Associate the reward with the handshake
Hold your treat in your hand so the cat knows it is there. Then say ‘shake hands’ (or an equivalent phrase) and take their paw. Shake their paw, then click (or say your ‘Good Boy’ phrase) and give them a reward.
Rinse and repeat
Do the handshake practice described above a few times a day until your cat has no doubt that every time they give you a handshake they will be rewarded with a treat.
Now, see if they will lift their paw on command.
After a few days, take things a step further. Try saying ‘Shake hands’ to your cat and seeing if it lifts its paw of its own accord without you having to reach out and take it. If it does, respond warmly with plenty of pets, a click and a treat! If not, you may need to do some further training. Your ultimate goal is to reach the point where you can say ‘shake hands’ to your kitty and she or he will lift their paw to be shaken without you having to take their paw in your hand and lift it for them.
Reduce the number of treats
Many cat owners then desire to reduce the number of treats that they give their cats. So, once your cat has been trained to shake hands, you do not need to give it a treat every single time that it performs this trick. But, it is always advisable to end a hand shaking session (which may involve several handshakes) with a treat and a pet and some warm words.
You may also like our other articles which teach you how to teach your cat to come on command and use the toilet.
Have you taught your cat any tricks? How did you train them? Leave us a comment with your experiences and thoughts.
Meow for now… Kristian
Do You Want to Know Why Your Cat Sleeps All Day
Many people believe that cats are nocturnal, however you may be surprised to learn that this is not strictly true. Rather, cats are ‘crepuscular’ mammals: this is something that is a little like being nocturnal – but not exactly the same. Nocturnal animals are animals that are active at night time and which usually do all of their sleeping during the day time. Badgers are a good example of nocturnal mammals.
By contrast, crepuscular mammals are most active during the dawn and dusk. They sleep during the very middle of the night, and during the day. You may have noticed your cat scooting around after its toys at dusk, just whilst you are winding down for the night. And, you have surely noticed that your cat is up and about before you are, meowing for its food or for a little attention just as dawn is breaking.
Cats and sleep
A nocturnal mammal has the opposite sleeping pattern to (most!) humans. Whilst we are awake all day and sleep all night, nocturnal mammals are awake all night and sleep all day: a neat reversal!
With cats, though, things are a little different. In general, your cat will sleep around twice as much as you do: cats usually clock up 12-15 hours of sleep per day. However, as crepuscular mammals their sleep will be broken up into two large swathes of their day. They will be awake and active in body and mind for a few hours around sunrise. Then, they will become sleepy during the day. Then, at dusk another period of activity, lasting a couple of hours perhaps, will follow. Finally, they will sleep during the darkest parts of the night before waking up at dawn to start the cycle again.
It does not matter to a cat if it wakes up during the day or during the middle of the night for a little bit, though! That is why it is totally fine to feed your cat its breakfast at 10am and its dinner at 5pm, even though these are not the times when it is most awake. In short, cats’ sleeping schedules are, though crepuscular, somewhat flexible. They are not set in stone!
Cats’ sleep and your schedule
Most of the time, cats and humans co-exist perfectly well in the same home. Your cat is content to carry on with its crepuscular schedule, content in the knowledge that it will be fed at regular times and that you will give it plenty of love and attention when you are not in the Land of Nod yourself.
However, if you sleep in bed with your cat, you may find that your schedules clash somewhat. A cat waking up at 5am and meowing loudly at you to bring it food can really disturb your sleep if you go to bed around midnight. In cases like these, you may well be wondering whether you can encourage your kitty to be a little less crepuscular!
Can you change your cat’s sleeping habits?
Rather than modifying your cat’s sleeping patterns (which can be very hard to do), one thing that you can do is ensure that they do not get too hungry when they wake up at dawn. That way, they will be less inclined to come in and yowl for their breakfast for a good few hours!
A sure fire way to achieve this is to make their dinner time a little later. Feed your cat just before you go to bed rather than right after you return from work. That way, they will stay full throughout the night, and will wake up feeling full as well.
Another thing that you can do is to leave them a small plate of crunchy food to snack on throughout the night. If your cat is overweight though, it is best to check with your veterinarian before doing this as you do not want to make their weight balloon as a result of midnight feasts every night!
Are cats nocturnal? Many people state that they are, because they see their cat waking up at sunset. However, the more accurate term for a cat’s sleep behavior is ‘crepuscular’. Cats are most active at dawn and dusk, but you can alter their sleeping schedules if you need to, for instance, if they interfere with your own.
Is 2am the witching hour at your house? Or does your cat sleep soundly? Let me know in the comments.
Meow for now… Kristian
Caturday Art Blog Hop: Frosty’s Close Up
Hi everyone, this week we are back with another ‘big cat’ for our Caturday Art contribution.
This came about because Frosty has been missing the sun. In Australia, we are in the last few weeks of winter and the weather has been cold. Since, mum is living in Orange – the weather there has been cold and miserable and the sun hasn’t been out much.
Luckily, during the week there were some really sunny days where Frosty was able to get some special sun baking in and get her much needed sun fix.
What came out of that, is this great photo of her reaching for the sun, just like a flower.
After some digital art creation that has been done, this is what our Caturday Artwork looks like.
What do you think?
Visit more artsy kitties at Athena’s Caturday Art blog hop!
Meow for now… Kristian
How To Manage The Problem Of Feral Cats
Feral cats are, so it is often said, notoriously difficult to tame. It is not impossible, though – in fact, you may know somebody who owns a cat that was born in the wild. Perhaps you have even looked after a feral cat or kitten yourself. There are, however, several problems commonly associated with feral cats.
True cat lovers such as you and I most certainly do not want to see killing feral cats as an option for ‘solving’ those problems: they are still cats after all! So here, we give you a handy guide on how to manage the problem of feral cats without killing them.
First things first, what are feral cats?
The word ‘feral’ refers to an animal being wild. So feral cats are cats that were either born in the wild or that have spent a significant portion of their time in the wild. Feral cats are usually ownerless cats: without human contact, they develop wild instincts. They are used to hunting for food rather than being served their dinner on a dish by their loving owner. They are also more accustomed to fighting each other.
As a result, feral cats are generally thought to be more aggressive in temperament than domestic cats that have a lot of contact with humans. Even the friendliest human will find it hard to pet a feral cat. Feral cats may run away or even attack when approached.
This aggression is the source of one of the key problems associated with feral cats. They are often seen fighting with domestic cats and stealing their food. It can be awful for cat owners to see their beloved kitty going hungry or coming home wounded after a fight with a feral cat. Of course, you are going to wonder – just what can I do about this feral cat problem?
There are many types of feral cats. Some used to have human owners and then for one reason or another (maybe they ran away or got lost, or maybe their owner died, sadly) ended up living in the wild and having to bring out their feral instincts to fend for themselves. Others were born in the wild, and came into the world as feral kittens. Some have never known a human owner at all and are absolutely terrified of humans as a result.
Often, knowing a little about a feral cat’s history will enable you to know how best to deal with them.
Can feral cats be tamed?
Some feral cats are, to all intents and purposed, untameable. Others, though, can learn to love and live in harmony with humans with just a little patience. It is particularly easy to tame feral kittens or stray kittens that have been taken in by humans at quite a young age, as these kittens have not had time to cement aggressive feral habits.
It is also easier to tame feral cats of any age who used to have a human owner at some point in their lives. This is because it is possible that the harmonious and gentle habits they learnt when living as part of a human household remain latent in their minds and just need to be brought out – they need to remember how to live with humans again.
In addition, some feral cats – even those who have never lived with humans before – have a naturally quiet and gentle temperament. Such cats may be more amenable to living with humans.
So, one way of solving the problem of feral cats is for humans to take them in. You can call a vet about a feral cat for them to take in, or you can take them to an animal charity to rehome. You can even take one in yourself. But remember, this takes extra time and patience compared to getting a new domesticated cat and you should only do so in consultation with your vet.
Feral cats and disease
One of the common problems associated with feral cats is disease. Think of all the jabs you gave your little feline friend when she or he was just a kitten. Think of all the boosters you take them in for every year. A feral cat simply does not get those jabs!
Though there are some community programs in parts of the country, where vets go out and inoculate all the feral cats that they come across against common feline ailments, the best practice when you meet a feral cat is to assume that it has not been inoculated.
If you are bitten or scratched by a feral cat it is very important to head to the doctor or the emergency room straight away. If your cat is bitten or scratched by a feral cat – make a swift appointment with the vet in case they have caught anything.
Feral cats and food
Many pet owners feed their cats outside, e.g. on the porch. It’s a great way to keep cat food smells out of the kitchen and to keep cat food bowls off the floor where humans step. It is also a smart way to ensure that outdoor cats can feed when they want. However, it also makes your cat’s food a prime target for feral cats. Feeding your cats indoors till the feral cats go away is a simple solution.
If feral cats are coming into your home via the cat flap, why not get a magnetized flap, which is linked to your cat’s collar? These flaps will only open when your own cats approach the flap.
Do not feed feral cats. If you provide food for them, they will return. If you do not provide food for them they will leave your area eventually to hunt for food somewhere else.
Feral cats and mating
Feral cats are not always spayed or neutered. If your cat has not been spayed or neutered, make sure to keep them indoors as otherwise they may mate with a feral cat and either land you with a litter of kittens or increase the feral cat population in your area!
Trap, Neuter, Return
Trap Neuter Return is a community program of catching and neutering feral cats before sending them into the wild again to prevent the feral cat overpopulation problem. You can even get involved with this yourself if you want – just ask your local vet for details!
Leave a comment with your thoughts about managing the stray cat population.
Meow for now… Kristian
How To Choose The Right Cat For Your Family
A cat is a member of the family, and it is so important that everyone in the family (both human and feline!) gets along with each other. If you are introducing a new cat to your home, choosing the right cat for your family is crucial. If you need a few handy tips, then check out our 7 points to consider when choosing the right cat for your family.
Do you have a timid toddler who’s a little shy around animals? Or perhaps you have kids who will want to play with a furry playmate all the time! The temperament of your kitty needs to be a good match for the temperaments of the humans in the house. Matching a super shy cat who has been rescued from a traumatic home with an inquisitive and boisterous three year old human can be a recipe for stress! Pairing a playful little kitten with a playful family, on the other hand, is one example of the perfect match of temperaments.
One way to test if your temperaments fit is to see if the person you are buying the cat from, or the rescue home, will let you hang out with your cat for a couple of days to see if you guys are all a good match. In fact, this ‘trial’ period can be a requirement with several cat rescue centers, as they want to make sure that you are going to provide the perfect home for their special feline before everyone decides to commit!
Cats have their schedules too! If you have a cat who will spend all of their time playing in the yard until you come home from work to feed them, or a litter trained indoor cat who is perfectly happy amusing themselves with their toys whilst the family is out in the office or at school all day, you will probably have no problem getting along together.
However, if you have a new kitten, they will need pretty much constant supervision. Leaving a kitten alone for more than a couple of hours is a big no-no: they can end up getting stressed and sad, tearing holes in the curtains, and forgetting all of their potty training! So, if you are planning to get a kitten, it is essential that a member of your household will be home to take care of them during the day (or, for instance, someone will stay with the kitten in the morning before heading out, and in the afternoon, someone will come home early to give the kitten a hug and play with it a little).
In short, make sure all your schedules fit together: yours and your cat’s!
Does anyone in your house have a cat allergy? You can still get a cat, you know, as many breeds are known to be non-allergenic. The Russian Blue breed of cat is generally supposed to have fur that is less triggering of allergies in humans, for instance. But, you could always get a completely hairless cat variety (just remember to keep it nice and warm in winter!) if your cat fur allergy is particularly strong.
4. Other cats
There may well be other felines already established in your household, and it is important to ensure that they get on with the new arrival too. Confining new cats to a separate room, and allowing them to smell your ‘old’ cats through the door is a good first step – and from then on, you can progress to feeding them at the same time either side of the door, before letting them eat side by side with no barrier in place. When choosing a new cat, it is always important to think about the temperament of your existing cat.
If you already have an un-neutered male kitten, for instance, it may be best to wait a while before getting another male cat of a similar age as this could lead to some belligerent encounters! The steps we have just described for introducing new and established cats to each other will usually only work if the cats have temperaments that, broadly, will ‘click’ with each other.
5. Other animals in the home and yard
Do you have dogs? If so, your new cat might see them as predators to be feared! Or maybe you keep hens or hamsters? Who knows, your hunt-savvy new kitty could see them as an easy lunch. It is always a good idea to consider what other animals your new cat would come into contact with and think about how they will all get along with each other. Again, your cat’s temperament is a significant factor here. And, if needs be, make sure that every animal has its own space, and that you have time to give them all the love, care and affection that they need both before and after the new cat arrives.
6. The space you live in
Is your household a chaotic space, or a large clean and empty one, with plenty of room for everyone? Think a little about how your cat’s life is going to fit in with your existing living space. Will you need a cat that is docile enough not to mind everyone putting jumbles of gym kit, books and papers all over the place in different combinations each hour of the day? Or is your house always perfectly in order, with everything always in the same place – perfect for a feline companion who loves their routine?
Will you need a cat that is scrupulously house trained, so as not to damage your expensive furnishings? Or, do you not mind so much about that, as you have plenty of large, washable stone floors where you can leave the sandbox. These points are always pragmatic to consider, but of course, given that you will love your kitty you may as well be prepared to make a few little adjustments to ensure that you can accommodate them and their habits in your home.
And, of course, do you have a garden? If not – you will need to get a cat that is accustomed to living indoors. If you do have one, you have a choice between a homebody indoor cat and an outdoor cat that loves to roam free: just make sure that your neighborhood is safe for that activity (e.g. no busy roads).
Leave us a comment with how you chose your feline friend… or did they choose you?
Meow for now… Kristian