“You can easily train dogs – but cats have a mind of their own.” Right? Nope, not quite. While this might be a statement you could’ve agreed with years ago, it’s not the same in a modern sense. Because it’s not just dogs, but also cats, who respond positively and have massively succeeded with clicker training. And not just that, they actually enjoy the physical and mental stimulation it provides.

What is cat clicker training?

Clicker training is a fun, practical, and highly effective way to teach your cat new tricks and reward behaviors. With a small device like a clicker, you make a clicking sound once your cat performs the desired behavior. Cat clicker training is built on positive reinforcement – i.e., creating a positive connection between your command and your cat’s behavior.

So here’s how clicker training for cats works in a nutshell:

  • As soon as your cat performs the “correct” behavior, sound your clicker.
  • Pause just a half-second.
  • Offer your cat a reward right after.

With time, your cat will learn to associate the distinctive sound of the clicker with a reward – whether that’s a treat, pets, cuddles, or any kind of attention and affection from you!

Clicker training works along two main components: classical and operant conditioning. Here’s a quick distinction:

  • In classical conditioning, your cat learns to associate the sound of the clicker with a reward. So they’ll respond positively to the click sound alone. That’s because your cat has learned that they’ll receive a reward after the click.
  • Operant conditioning, on the other hand, refers to how cats learn to associate their own behavior with the click sound – and then, the reward. The goal is to motivate your cat to perform a certain behavior by themselves. So that you can then sound the clicker and offer them the reward.

Why is clicker training such a great option for cats?

Clicker training originally developed as a method of training dogs and other animals. But as it turns out, it’s also a great fit for cats! As curious creatures, cats tend to approach new objects with interest and give it a thorough once-over, top to bottom. And much like many other animals, cats also respond positively to rewards and training methods based on motivation and praise. They learn quickly with instant reinforcement, which makes clicker training an excellent option for their natural instincts and behaviors.

Wondering if your indoor cat would benefit from clicker training? Great idea! Indoor cats can do with a bit more exercise – and they’ll benefit tremendously from the mental stimulation. It’s also a great change of pace for outdoor cats and helps them deepen their bond with you.

The best perk of clicker training? It’s simple – any responsible, loving cat parent can get started right away. You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment either. Plus, clicker training is so versatile that even your most easily-bored cat will be engaged for hours on end. 😺

Benefits of cat clicker training

Every cat has their own personality – but clicker training can be heaps of fun for cat parents and cats alike. Here are a couple of reasons why clicker training is such a great choice for your cat:

  • Through clicker training, cats can learn how to react more positively with environmental stimuli and can interact with it better. (Including your furniture, items on your counter tops, and other pets.)
  • Cats get a ton of physical and mental stimulation with clicker training. With it, they can improve both their motor skills and also improve their memory of previous commands.
  • You can gently teach your cat to reduce or even stop unwanted behaviors. No scolding or telling off required.
  • You can also help your cat understand desired behaviors – like peeing in their litter box. Clicker training makes your expectations clear and communicates them appropriately to your cat.
  • With clicker training, you can also help your cat overcome any fears and anxieties of environmental stimuli – providing them some relief.

But the most important benefit of all? Clicker training help strengthens the bond between you and your cat. With it, your cat understand your needs and respond to positive reinforcement. Which, in the long run, works wonders for your cat’s health and well being.

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What do you need for clicker training with your cat?

You don’t need a ton of expensive equipment to clicker train your cat. The most important tools you’ll need are:

  • A clicker
  • Rewards, however your cat likes them best
  • A place to practice


When you sound off your clicker, it signals to your cat “Good job! You did it right!” – so they’re more likely to repeat the behavior you’re reinforcing. There are different types of clickers on the market, but they all serve the same role: a clear acoustic signal for communicating with your cat. Soon, your cat learns the simple communication method of click or no click – so they can quickly understand.


Rewards are an important part of clicker training. Make sure you’re consistent with giving them immediately after you sound off your clicker. Because your cat needs to understand that the sound of the click means they’ll be rewarded soon – and they’re pretty motivated when treats are involved!

Do “rewards” mean only treats? Not necessarily. Much like dogs, you can offer your cat other types of rewards – like a hug or pats or tons of praise. Play around with different types of rewards to get an idea of what your cat responds best to.

A woman rewarding her cat with pets after a clicker training session.

If you want to use snacks as a reward, be mindful of a few things:

  • Make sure your cat’s treats are small and easy to eat.
  • Consider healthy treat options, like unsweetened meat or vegetables.
  • Divide snacks into smaller bits so you can exercise with your cat longer without overfeeding them.
  • Incorporate treats into your cat’s overall feeding routine.
  • Switch up the type of reward to keep your cat motivated.

A place to practice

Finding the right place to practice your cat’s clicker training is your key to a hassle-free experience. Choose somewhere that’s quiet, free of distractions, and gives you both ample space for exercise and movement. This could be:

  • A quiet corner in your living room
  • A room with a closed door to minimize distractions (from other pets or family members)
  • A quiet outdoor area, such as a garden (weather permitting)

Overall, make sure your training space is a familiar, comfortable environment for your cat so that they can focus on the training.

How do I get started with clicker training?

Cat clicker training is pretty easy to get started with. Just follow these 4 steps:

1. Get familiar with your clicker

Sound off your clicker to get your cat accustomed to the sound. Then, immediately after, give them a treat. Repeat this a few times until your cat learns that the sound of the click means a treat. So you can help them build a positive association.

2. Pick some easy tricks

Start with a simple trick – like getting your cat to look at you, sit down, or come to you when you call their name. When your cat, say, sits down – press the clicker and give them a treat right after. Tada! You’ve just mastered your first clicker exercise. Great job!

⚠️ Make sure that your cat sees the treat only after the click! You should give them their treat within 1-2 seconds after you sound off your clicker. This way, your cat will associate the reward with the sound.

3. Start with a command

When your cat understands what behavior you’re training them to do, start adding a verbal command just before they do it. Start simple – just “Sit!” or “Come!” work great at first.

4. Practice makes purr-fect

Want to become a cat clicker training master? Practice regularly – but keep your training sessions short and sweet.

Remember: a cat is not a dog – and unlike dogs, they tend to have shorter attention spans. So ideally, their training sessions should only last a few minutes.

A woman stretches her finger towards her cat's paw

How often can I clicker train my cat?

We’ve covered how shorter sessions (of around 15 minutes) work better for cats – but you can clicker train them regularly. If your cat responds positively, you can schedule a clicker session every day. After a while, you might even find your cat nudging you into training by themselves!

When practising a new trick, make sure not to let too much time pass between sessions. Else, your cat might forget the exercises quickly. For new tricks, we’d recommend repeating them every day. And of course, you can practice with your cat in the morning and evening – depending on how motivated you both are.

More tips on how to use a clicker

  • Cats are smart little creatures – so make sure you gradually move on to more complex exercises to keep them motivated.
  • Adapt to your cat’s attention span by keeping your training sessions short and engaging.
  • If your cat is repeating an unwanted behavior, turn your attention away from them. At times, they might be refusing to cooperate because they’re not in the mood. We’d recommend not scolding or telling them off – rather, be careful not to sound your clicker and keep the treats away.
  • Have multiple cats? Train them each individually.

Remember: each cat is individual and comes with their unique personality quirks. Some learn faster (or slower) than others – and not every method works the same way for each cat. So we’d recommend tailoring your training sessions to your cat’s needs and preferences. You’ll be more likely to enjoy your time together then!

Challenges you might come across while cat clicker training

Your cat doesn’t react to the sound of the clicker

Your cat might not react to the sound of the clicker right away. Sometimes, they might even ignore it! In these cases, stay patient and build up training slowly and gradually. Rewards (like treats or pets) are essential to motivate your cat and help them learn that the sound of the click is a positive sign.

In some cases, you might need to consider your choice of clicker – some cats might respond better to softer- or higher-pitched sounds than to a standard clicker.

Your cat is afraid of the sound of your clicker

Some cats might be a bit more sensitive by temperament – so they might spook more easily. In some cases, your cat might be frightened by the sound of your clicker! In these cases, we’d recommend putting it aside. Instead, pick another method to get your cat used to the sound instead.

For example, you could familiarize your cat with a softer sound, like the click of a ballpoint pen. Once your cat is accustomed to this sound, gradually move on to the clicker.

In all cases, we’d always recommend ensuring that your cat is comfortable during training and doesn’t show any signs of anxiety or stress.

Clicker training exercises for your cat

Clicker training for your cat can be a great way to both reinforce their behavior and get some extra playtime fun and bonding. Below, we’re going to cover a few exercises you could try with your cat for inspiration.

These exercises work best with a small treat – but feel free to reward your cat in other ways.


Let’s start with a simple cat clicker training exercise – the sit command.

  • To practice this, hold a treat above your cat’s head and wait for them to sit on their own.
  • Once they sit, click and give them a treat.
  • Repeat the process as many times as necessary – until your furry friend understands what to do.

Paw & high-five

Another popular clicker training exercise is teaching your cat to give their paw or a high-five. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Put a treat in your first.
  • Hold your fist (with the treat) it in front of your cat.
  • Wait until your cat puts their paw on your hand.
  • Click and reward!

Follow the same steps for a high-five – hold your flat hand out to your cat to get them to high-five you back.


Time to get sporty! Here’s an easy way to train your cat to perform a jump trick:

  • Hold the treat above the height you want to your cat to jump.
  • Wait for your cat to jump to reach it.
  • Once they jump, click and hand them their well-deserved treat.

Over time, you can push your cat’s skills by increasing the height and challenge of the jump. For example, you can even train them to jump on objects or through hoops. Pretty awesome, if you ask us!

A cat jumps from one table to another

Specific behavioral exercises

Cat clicker training exercises are pretty versatile. If you want to train a specific behavior, start with the specific bunch of exercises. For example, if your cat is terrified of vet visits, you can simulate the scenario in a more familiar environment – and then reward them for it. So they can slowly overcome their anxiety and find it a more routine, comfortable experience instead.

Clicker training is also excellent for transport boxes. With slow, gradual steps and a bit of practice, your cat might even go into their box voluntarily!

Remember to always keep training sessions short and sweet to keep your cat motivated. Good communication and regular practice together are key to successful clicker training.

Looking for some cat clicker training inspo? Here’s a cute video from Cat School Clicker Training which shows you how to teach your cat to wave – step by step:

Clicker training is a great way to get to know your cat better, keep them engaged, and spend some quality time together. So if you’re looking to give clicker training a try – go for it! Your furry friend is sure to make you proud.

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