When you decide to train your cat to give high fives, you need to start with the basic’s. There are a few golden rules to live by.
- It should always be a fun exercise for your cat
- Not all cats will be open for this training
- Some breeds are easier (smarter) than others, don’t let that discourage you
- Your cat decides the pace, you have to respect his learning curve
- If he doesn’t want to play, leave him, and try another time
- Don’t over feed him, keep it healthy
- Make sure you enjoy this special time
- Keep sessions short! I use 2 minutes a day, sometimes twice a day
So, everything is in place. You bought some treats to seduce your cat with (make sure he loves it) and you want to start. Let’s plan this, so you get the maximum result.
Decide on how many times you want to train. Once or twice a day?
If you train less than every day, it might be difficult to train, it might be too much time apart between the sessions. This depends on the intelligence of the cat of course. so I suggest to do it every day, especially the first weeks.
What time do you choose to train
This is an important factor. Training your cat right after he’s eaten will give less result than when he’s hungry and waiting for diner. In that case he will be much more eager to work for a delicious treat. So make sure he’s hungry enough to want to perform for you.
What treat do you use
Of course you want to give him the treat he loves the most. But we also need to think of the health of your cat. So think carefully about what you give your cat, and how much you want to give him per training. We don’t want to over feed him, or get him overweight.
Don’t under estimate the influence of your voice. Saying high five as soon as he puts his paw in the right place is very important. This way the words high five correlate to the move he’s doing. So say it clearly from the start. As soon as your cat understands the word, say it as soon as he performs the move. And reward him with vocal praise as well. They understand your ‘Good job’ remark pretty well.
The first couple of times your cat doesn’t know what you want from him, at all! So bare with him. Give him time to adapt and let him decide on how fast the training goes.
At first, all I did was offer the treat, while holding his paw. Just as a low five. So not up in the air, but low taking his paw and resting it on my hand.
Doing this move while giving him a treat, he will understand (eventually) what the paw on my hand is connected to the treat. Keep on doing this a few more sessions, so it really sticks in his brain.
From low paw to high five
When you’re sure your cat understands the concept of giving paw and then receiving a treat, you can step it up. Keep the same training but raise your hand a little bit. Don’t put it in the air right away, instead change little bits per session, so your cat can follow the move gradually, without even noticing. Yes, it requires a bit of patience, but it’s worth it.
Your first high five!
Yes! Finally your cat knows what you want from him. Congratulations. I have no idea how long it took you to get to this point. And you know what? That doesn’t matter. As long as you and your cat had fun along the way.
So what now?
Well, you want your cat to give you a high five without giving him treats every time. So the next thing to do is practicing giving high fives, without getting a treat afterwards all the time.
What does that mean?
It means you are now going to try to let your cat do 2 high fives before rewarding him with a treat. And if he understands this concept, try 3 high fives. And so on…
Also, this is the time to try to train randomly during the day. Surprise him with the question to high five at places you haven’t trained before. Of course make sure you to reward him with a treat now and again, so he has no way of knowing when the treat will be coming.
He understands my question every time
Congratulations! You did it, or better yet, your cat did! You can now blow people away when they come and visit you at your house. Enjoy the trick, and you can now step it up for the next trick!