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Shelley Beyer

How to Teach Your Cat to Fetch!
January 6, 2022

Fetch isn’t just for dogs anymore!

Have you seen those videos of a cat playing fetch and thought that your feline friend would never do that! Some cats do this without any training and develop this behavior on their own. Some of them may only fetch one kind of item, like scrunchies.

You, too, may be able to have a cat who plays fetch! You may have to work at it for a while, but they can learn! You’ll want to select a toy your cat already likes. If your cat seems frustrated or is struggling in the transition between steps, take that as a sign that they need more time and go back to the previous step.

Steps for Teaching Your Cat to Fetch

  1. Establish the toy as the target. You can do this by holding it a few inches away from their face until they sniff or touch it with their nose.
  2. Reward them with a treat when they acknowledge the toy.
  3. Repeat this until your cat looks for the toy after the treat.
  4. Then you move on to only giving your cat a treat when they put their mouth on the toy.
  5. The next step is to get them to interact with the toy while it’s on the ground.
  6. Reward them if they touch the toy with either an open or closed mouth.
  7. Next, reward them only when they pick up the toy.
  8. The last step is to move the toy further away from you each time they pick it up.
  9. When they pick the toy up, lure them back again with the treat.
  10. Move it a little further away each time, and use the verbal cue Fetch each time.

Your Mileage May Vary

While the general process is the same for every cat, remember that your cat is likely very different and unique. You may have to make adjustments based on your cat’s personality. If your cat likes catnip, you can try adding that to the toy to help keep their interest. You’ll also want to make sure that your training area is quiet without a lot of distractions. Don’t try to practice when your cat is in a sleepy mood. Wait until they are awake and alert.

Remember to be patient. You won’t get through all of these steps in one session! Make sure you go at your cat’s pace. With any luck, you’ll be able to show off your cat’s new trick to your friends sooner than later!