How Clicker Training Our Cats Changed Our Lives
I remember the first time I saw a video of a cat giving a high five. My first thought was “There is no way my cats, Lumos & Noxie, would do that.”
Fast forward a year later… boy was I wrong!
High fives, fist bumps & low fives are now tricks that Lumos can do in his sleep.
And…He isn’t even the cleverest of the 2! He stumbles down the stairs. He does silly things.
So what changed?
Nope. Not my cats.
They didn’t get ‘smarter’ brains. I didn’t put a spell on them to make them do tricks.
Instead, I changed.
I changed how I thought about what my cats are capable of. I decided to just give training a go. To see if it was possible.
And wow, I was completely blown away.
1. They love it
Yes, that’s right.
Lumos & Noxie love clicker training.
We have been training for 6 months now and they will remind me every day at 6.15pm that it is clicker training time.
And those days, when I’m late or too tired to train them, they slump in disappointment.
They approach each session with happy meows and tail wags. They love trying new tricks and proving that they are capable.
2. They can do tricks!
When we first started clicker training, I celebrated when Lumos sat for the first time.
Then when he did a spin.
Then when he started jumping through my arms.
Now I feel like we are celebrating a new trick at least once a week.
Lumos sitting on command is now old news. We barley even pay attention when he does that now.
3. It helps challenge me
Lumos’s abilities have progressed so far that he has finished the Cat School program.
Every week I now need to come up with new tricks for him to learn. It might sound difficult, but it is a lot of fun and I love the creative challenge it has created.
And on top of that, Noxie loves different tricks compared to Lumos. Lumos loves agility jumps while Noxie prefers paw work, so now I create different “lesson plans” for each of them.
I never thought creating a lesson plan was fun – but it is!
4. Clicker training has made Lumos & Noxie happier
Prior to starting clicker training, we were struggling with Lumos being aggressive. He was biting and would occasionally bully Noxie, who is smaller than him.
Perhaps this is because he was jealous of Noxie who excels further than him in everything, from hiking, running, jumping, playing fetch and even at times getting our attention.
But then clicker training came along, and Lumos excelled in something.
He picks up tricks faster.
He likes training for longer.
And he is so proud of it.
He loves showing off to me during every session. But if someone else is watching? He will put it on even more.
And that aggression? The biting? The bullying?
That is gone.
Rather he is a loving brother. A loving kitty to us. Kinder and rather loveable to strangers.
The transformation I have seen in him since starting clicker training has shocked me. He is still the same Lumos, just happier and more well-rounded.
5. Our bond is stronger
I often catexplore with Noxie, while Lumos explores with my husband, mainly because Lumos is heavier so it is easier for me to carry Noxie.
As most catexplorers find, we have developed closer bonds with the cats we explore with. Lumos is very attached to my husband, while Noxie is very attached to me.
Lumos & I did have a bond, but clicker training has strengthened our bond.
I can read him a lot better now.
I understand his different meows. The frustrated meow when he doesn’t understand what he needs to do. The happy meow when we do a trick he loves and the satisfied meow when he has finally achieved something.
And with Noxie? I understand her so much better now too.
And this has helped so much more with our catexploring.
I can now tell what her tail wags mean. The twitch that indicates a hissy fit is about to emerge. The swish that means she is happy. The wag that means she is contemplating something.
6. They are capable of anything
I’ve come quite a long way since thinking that cats aren’t capable of much.
Clicker training has helped us push the boundaries to show what they can do.
That you don’t need a special TV cat to do tricks.
That your cat at home can do them too.
That anyone can do more with their cat.