Jill Archibald: Hi I am Jill Archibald. I am the Cat Fanciers' Association, Feline Agility Coordinator. Today I am going to show you how to train your cat in feline agility. And now let's get ready to train your cat. First get them used to loud noises and crowds. Take them with you to a pet store or on a road trip. It's best to start young with your kittens. Interacting with your cat is an essential part of developing your relationship. Using food or toys to develop positive responses is another way to solidify your interaction.
Make a sound or phrase you can use as the positive reward. You need obstacles to practice with. Create your own or go to the CFA Feline Agility website to get the dimensions of the standard obstacles, http://agility.
Patience is the number one thing for a handler. Whatever you are trying to get your cat to do, be patient and watch your cat's body language. Look to see where they are looking. If they look away it's time to bring them back to attention. Watch what your cat does with its ears, an ear flip or flatten or movement forward or backward is significant. Learn what it means to your cat, are they huddling, are they distracted, are the frustrated. What the body doing, crouched and ready to pounce, walking over the ground, tail up or down. These are cues you need to learn to read.
Use the phrases, the noises you have developed to lead your cat around or over a small object. Take your time, when they have been successful, repeat the behavior several times. Reward with lots of praise and a treat or a cuddle or a stroke whatever they respond to best.
Add a second obstacle for your cat to navigate over, around or through. When they have successfully been lead over both obstacles, reward with lots of praise. Repeat this several times. Keep adding obstacles until they are able to do at least four, time to take a break. Everyday they can probably do one to two practice sessions. Make them short, ten to fifteen minutes is plenty.
Always make it fun and a positive experience and be sure to stop after a short practice. The more you practice, the stronger your cat will become. In the real thing no food is allowed. To help your cat maintain focus on the lure you may want to add a bell, so they could find it, literally inside of it. So that's how you get your cat ready for agility training. Up next I discuss how to use stairs and jump as agility obstacles.