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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Food as a Training Tool

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Teaching Cats to Sit on Cue

What is it?


Teaching cats to sit using a cue word and hand signal gives you a common language.


Teaching cats to sit is also a great way to provide needed mental exercise and gentle family leadership. If dogs are known for their work ethic, cats can be described as having family values.

Why teach your cat to sit on cue?


It is easy to teach a cat to sit. The same lure-reward and positive reinforcement principles and methods that are used to teach dogs apply to teaching cats. The key word is "positive" training methods. Cat's do well if encouraged and rewarded. Cats respond to conflict with avoidance. Keep training fun and be patient.

Teaching your cat to sit on cue is one of the most versatile and important lessons for any cat to accomplish. You can use a sit on cue to shape a number of desirable cat behaviors in a cat.  Once your cat has learned to sit, you can ask for a sit before meals, greetings, and any other privileges to gently remind your cat that you are the provider of all good things.


When your cat sits every time, begin to treat every other sit, then
the BEST sit of three or five attempts.  Phase out the food rewards
over several weeks.
Never phase out praise.


What to do

  • Start with a hungry cat that's looking for attention and tasty food treats. The goal is to use the treat to lead your cat into a sit position.

  • Give your cat a treat for free. Then, allow your cat to lick the second treat as you raise it slowly up (nose pointed up) and release it.

  • For the third treat, continue pointing the nose back in a teeter-totter motion that makes it easier for the cat to sit to get to the treat. Go very slowly.

  • Just as your cat sits, say, "Sit," and immediately release the treat and coo, "Good kitty."  Repeat this exercise about six times. Try to quit while you are ahead

NOTE:  If the cat's front feet rise up, you are holding the food too high or going too fast.

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