Teaching Your Cat to Sit
No more being bitten during feeding time
Cats are intelligent creatures. While they don't have the desire to please their human like dogs do, that doesn't mean they cannot learn tricks.
My cat, Athena, would often snatch food out of my hand. Either with her jaws or paw at my hand with those sharp claws. And that hurts! Sharp teeth and nails in the skin is a big ouchie. My dog happened to come into the kitchen as she did, and that was when I had the idea.
My dogs will sit and take food nicely - Shiloh is so gentle that you can knock the food out of her mouth if you wanted. I wasn't sure how the idea was going to work as I'd never taught cats any tricks. From experience, they're independent and like to do their own thing.
But that was not going to deter me from trying.
Food is a strong motivator
Cats love food. Athena is crazy for food. She always has to act as though she's never been fed even though she's just had some.
For this I didn't use any treats. Simple cat biscuits were enough. Once she sniffed and found out I had biscuits in my hand was she keen on getting them. Since she didn't know what sit was, not in that capacity that dogs do, I had to move my hand over her head while telling her to sit.
Because she knew I had biscuits, her head would follow my hand and she would instinctively sit. To praise her, I gave her the biscuit and repeated the procedure. Each day I would do this until she would sit when I told her to - though I would always have food to give her since that was the reason why I wanted her to sit. So she wouldn't just pounce and grab food from my hand.
Cats are quick learners and it took less than a week for her to fully master this. Some cats might take longer, some quicker, some might need more motivation. It's all down to the cat. Key thing is not to give up and always reward the cat.
If they're not responding, try their favorite food or a particular cat treat that might pique their interest. After that it's going to be relatively smooth sailing as they'll do anything for that food.
What about taking food nicely
Because I wanted to stop her from yanking food, I would also teach her to take food nicely. I would hand her the food, if she went to snatch the food, I would tell her no, not too loudly but in a tone that she knew I was serious. I would also withhold the food.
I would continue this until she wasn't as quick to snatch the food but slowly and gently reaching for it. Remember to not to be too growly as that doesn't really work and some cats will simply run off if the noise is too loud and too sharp. Just a simple no while withholding the food is all it takes.
They soon get the idea that if they reach slowly and nicely, they get rewarded with the food. If not, they don't get it. Easy peasy.
Sometimes they might give you the evil look of doom that they are so fond of giving. But they'll soon give in.
Not as hard as it sounds
Teaching cats to sit and take food nicely is really not as hard as it sounds. Teaching them other tricks might be but sitting and taking food nicely didn't take long at all. Less than a week and Athena knew what to do. Plus it's sort of a bonding experience with your kitty, much like how it is with dogs.
The best part is no longer being chomped on, or scratched, by an over enthusiastic kitty trying to grab food. That and the smooches she gives after each biscuit. Just remember to keep praising them even once they get the trick as it will encourage them to keep doing it. And that is what we want.