Please find below some useful tips in form of a Guest Post by the team from Pets at Home:
Strut Their Stuff: Agility Training and Cats
Cats are naturally agile, keen-sensed creatures – attributes necessary for hunting prey in their evolutionary past, but perhaps less important in their role as pets! However, setting agility challenges for your cat can be a great way to play and put their dexterity to the test. Not only is it a lot of fun, it’s a good workout too – for you and your cat!
Although they’re famously not quite as readily trainable as dogs, you might be surprised at how quickly your cat takes to an agility course. With a bit of perseverance and the help of a lure to guide your pet – a feather or a toy on a string is ideal – you could find that a healthy cat is more than willing to show off its skills.
There’s a wide variety of obstacles that can test different abilities, and it’s easy to build your own course at home with just a few toys and household items. Here are a few to try:
- Tunnels – It’s best to use a fabric tunnel specifically designed for cats, as it needs to be wide enough for your pet to fit into comfortably without crouching. Simply lure your pet through the tunnel from one end to the other using a toy on a long string. Beware, some cats don’t like enclosed spaces – skip this one if they’re not enjoying it!
- Slalom sticks – These can be made from just about anything suitable. Create a line of poles or markers for your cat to weave around, following the lure. Try gradually decreasing the distance between poles: the shorter the distance, the harder it gets.
- Hoop jump – A child’s hula hoop or the inner tube from a tire is ideal for this. Hold up the hoop yourself or create a support for it, then encourage your cat to leap through it with the lure. Don’t hold it too high – cats don’t always land on their feet
If you want to take your cat’s agility training further, you might want to invest in a clicker. Not all cats respond to it, but for those that do, it can be a great way to positively reinforce their behaviour as they go around the course. (Yes, a dog clicker works fine for cats too!)
But before anyone goes turning their living room into a Tough Mudder for cats, just remember that the course should be fun for your pet. If your cat is old, suffers from joint pain or has any other mobility problems, agility training is probably not for them – although gentler alternatives, such as walking up and down ramps, might still be suitable. Likewise, agility training isn’t suitable for kittens and young cats whose bones are still developing.