Believe it or not, you can teach your cat to high 5. Cats are extremely smart animals and they can learn tricks as much as dogs. High 5 is probably my favorite trick because it’s easy to teach and it’s easy to perform for your cat. You can easily get your cat to high-five all your guests.
Also, our feline friends need enrichment to be happy. While most cat parents think that playing with your cat or letting them go outside are the only ways to stimulate your cat, Clicker training will drain your cat’s energy faster than any physical stimulation!
Teaching a Cat to High Five Using Clicker Training
I would love to assume that you already know what clicker training is and that your clicker is charged. If you do, please excuse me, you can skip this point and move to the next one :)
If you don’t know what clicker training is, let me very quickly explain it. Also, at the end of the post, I’ll be sharing with you some tips if you are starting at clicker training so that you get the most out of the cat training sessions.
Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning. The conditioning happens because behaviors that are rewarded, are likely to be repeated. By rewarding your cat for the behaviors that you want, you will get your cat doing them again.
How do you tell your cat that they did something that you want and it’s going to get them a reward? Using the clicker.
The clicker is nothing more than a noise maker that we are going to help our cats associate with a reward. Once the cat understands that clicks are always followed by treats, the click becomes a powerful reinforcer.
It's a good hint to think of the clicker as a camera instead of as a remote control. We click when we see something we like and want our cats to do again in the future. For example, our cat sits, and we click. Our cat rolls on its back, and we click. Like if we were taking a picture.
Charging the Clicker before training
The process of getting our cat to know that after a click comes a reward is called charging the clicker. We are going to make a click and then reward. After doing this several times, we are going to see our cat expecting a treat after a click. When that happens, you can officially say that the clicker is charged.
Every time I post a video talking about clicker training I receive a comment asking if the clicker it’s needed. No. It’s not.
The clicker helps because it’s an easy-to-identify sound, that’s always constant, it’s loud and unique. So our cats will undoubtedly know when they are getting a reward. Other noises can confuse if they hear them outside training times.
My recommendation is that you buy a clicker, they are available online for under $5. You can also find quiet clicker options to train indoors. If you don’t want to buy a clicker, my recommendation is that you use your voice a “YES” or “GOOD” will suffice, but you have to be consistent on the tone and the duration.
WOW! This was a lot, but let’s assume the clicker is charged now, let’s get into the trick itself. If you need more information about how clicker training works, you can either check out this post about clicker training or watch the video below:
Teaching Your Cat to High 5 in 3 Steps
Step 1: Get Your Cat in a Sitting Position
If your cat knows how to sit, the trick is easier to teach while the cat is sitting. If you don’t know how to teach your cat to sit, you can take a look at this video.
Step 2: Use a Treat to Make Your Cat Touch Your Hand. Click. Reward.
With your cat sitting take a treat and place it in the middle of your hand. Hold that treat with your other hand as if you were pointing at the treat.
As soon as their paw leaves the ground to move towards your hand, mark their action with a clicker or the word ‘YES’ followed by a treat.
Repeat until the behavior while saying “HIGH FIVE”. With repetition, the behavior will become internalized by your cat. You’ll see that they almost immediately go for your hand as you raise it.
Step 3: Remove the Treat. Click and Reward When Your Cat Touches Your Hand.
Remove the treat from the hand but keep on pointing to the center with your index finger and saying “HIGH FIVE” as you raise your hand. If the prior step was strongly internalized, they will keep doing the behavior and you will keep rewarding.
After several repetitions, once the behavior is internalized again. Remove the index finger and keep rewarding when your cat touches your hand.
I promised you a couple tricks. Use a high value treat. Something that your cat loves and save it only for clicker training.
More details on teaching your cat to High Five in the video below:
Final Advice for Clicker Training Your Cat
Make those treats as tinny as possible. Cats stomach is very small, think of the size of a walnut. We want our cats to stay interested in the treats, and if we feed them big chunks, our sessions are going to last a couple minutes only.
If your cat is scared of the clicker, place it behind your back. The sound can sometimes be startling for some cats.
There are 5 mistakes we all do when starting clicker training that make progress much slower.
To fast track your cats learning ability, check out this video where I share 5 DO’s and 5 DONT’s that will help you make progress at 3 times the speed!
Stay Wild, Stay Safe see you Outdoors!
Albert & Mia