This behavior is fun to teach your cat because it is easy and can be used in a variety of ways. Once your cat knows how to touch a specific prop on command, you can teach him to pick a specific toy, use the TV remote or even play the piano.
The goal is for your cat to touch an object with his front paw when you give the command “touch” or “paw.” You should only teach this trick when your cat has accomplished a consistent “sit” on command.
What You’ll Need
- Your cat before mealtime
- A quiet area where the cat is comfortable
- A table for the cat
- An object for the cat to touch that is sturdy and will not fall over when the cat touches it (like a small toy or a stack of books)
- A specific command (in this case, the word “paw” or “touch”), preceded by your cat’s name (“Scooter, touch”)
- Your positive signal (a clicker, or an upbeat word such as “yes”)
- The reward (his favorite food or special treats)
- Instruct your cat to sit on the table. (Remember, your cat must first thoroughly learn the “sit” command to do this trick.)
- Place your prop at the edge if the table between you and the cat.
- Hold the food reward directly in front of your cat so the prop is between the cat and the food.
- Give the command “Scooter, touch” while tapping the object with your other hand.
- As he reaches for the food, if he touches or steps on the object, hit the clicker (or use your positive signal) and say “touch, good touch.” Immediately give him his food reward.
- If he isn’t touching the object, try moving the food reward around so he is more likely to bat at it. Again, if his foot touches the object hit the clicker (or use your positive signal) and reward him.
- Eventually your cat should respond to the command “touch” without your tapping the object.
- Once your cat has learned this behavior consistently, you no longer need to place the cat on a table.
You may want to try using a different command for each front paw, such as “touch” for his right paw and “paw” for his left paw. You can then train your cat to use a specific paw to touch an object.