It used to be thought the word cat and the word training didn’t go together. Most older books on cats will tell you it’s too difficult or not even possible. Back then, training meant punishing to stop a behavior, not teaching to create new and better ones.
A Little History
Then came Clicker Training. It developed out of research by behaviorist B.F. Skinner in the 1940s when he taught a pigeon how to bowl. He and his students showed that a behavior could be modified not only with rewards but by using a noise to bridge the reward to the behavior.
Fifty years later, Clicker Training was brought back into the companion animal world by Karen Pryor, who had used it with marine mammals. You can’t scruff a whale, so more effective methods than punishment were developed. Clicker Training uses positive reinforcement almost exclusively.
Not Old School Training
Clicker Training for cats is not your grandpa’s obedience training. You don’t force the cat to do anything. Instead, your cats choose to do the behavior instead of being coerced, which makes them think and learn for themselves.
Partners & Contracts
It also makes them your partners in training, rather than your subjects. That’s why we call it Clicker Play, because that’s how your cats will think of it. It’s not about obedience. It’s about learning. And fun!
Cats like predictability. Clicker Training sets up a contract between you and your cats. If they do certain things, they get a click then a treat. Cat translation: if I do certain things, I can train my human to give me treats…Sweet!
The Clicker Language
It also develops a new language for communicating with your cat. You become more valuable to your cat in a way you probably wouldn’t have thought possible. Your cat will become more confident and have more confidence in you (especially good for shy cats).
While we also recommend the use of just food rewards in some situations, adding the clicker has been proven to work up to 40% faster. This gives you an edge in solving any problems and the best chance at a positive, harmonious relationship with your cat.
Still don’t believe it? Let the cat clan show you how fun clicker play can be in this video!
Ready to get started? See our helpful how-tos:
Clicker Training Behaviors for Cats
Clicker Training for Shelter Cats