How to Play Fetch With Your Cat

Two Parts:Preparing to Play FetchTraining Your Cat to Fetch

Every cat is unique, with different temperaments, behaviors and personalities. Some cats will take to playing fetch right away and will require very little training to retrieve their favorite toy or ball. Other cats may take more time to understand the rules of fetch and execute this playful game properly. Playing fetch is a great way to keep your cat physically and mentally stimulated, and to have some fun running around with her owner.

Part 1
Preparing to Play Fetch

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    Choose a small, contained area. Keep your cat focused on the play session by limiting any distractions or obstacles. Start in a small, empty area and, as your cat gets more comfortable with fetch, move to a larger space.[1]
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    Use your cat’s favorite toy or object. If your cat already has a toy she favors that is small and easy to throw, use this for fetch. Some cats enjoy fetching with crumpled paper or a toy that makes a sound.[2]
    • Always use the same toy or object, when playing fetch. This will get your cat used to fetching with the same toy and signal to your cat it is time for fetch, when you take out that toy.
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    Play fetch right before a meal. Time your play session so your cat is awake and alert. Doing it right before lunch or dinner will ensure your cat is ready to run around and work up an appetite.[3]

Part 2
Training Your Cat to Fetch

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    Keep you cat focused on the fetch object. Use cat treats to motivate your cat to pay attention to the toy or object you are using for fetch.[4] You can also use a training clicker to instruct your cat to play fetch. You can purchase a clicker for under $10 at your local pet store.[5]
    • Show your cat the toy and hold it about six inches from her face. Let your cat sniff or touch the toy with her nose. Then, press the clicker and offer her a treat. Repeat this step until your cat looks at the toy once she is done eating the treat and touches it without instruction.
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    Allow her to get used to holding the object in her mouth. Once your cat gets used to touching the toy every time you show it to her, you need to get her to understand she has to hold the toy in her mouth.[6]
    • Let your cat touch the toy, but do not click or give her a treat when she does this.
    • Your cat will look at you and realize she needs to do something else to get a click and a reward. She will likely try to open her mouth and put the toy in her mouth.
    • Once she puts the toy in her mouth, press the clicker and give her a treat. Continue this process, giving her a click and a treat every time she grabs the toy from your hand with her mouth.
    • Some pet owners stop the training session here to give your cat a break and let her go do something else for a time. You can then pick up the training session the following day.
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    Instruct your cat to retrieve the object from the ground. Now that your cat is comfortable with taking the toy from your hand, you need her to get used to retrieving the object from the ground once it is thrown.[7]
    • Place the toy on the ground in front of you. Your cat should approach the toy and try to put it in her mouth. Once she does this, click and give her a treat.
    • As your cat eats her treat, move the toy away from her to another spot on the floor. Let your cat approach the toy again on the floor and when she touches it or puts it in her mouth, click and give her another treat.
    • Continue this process, moving the toy around the room so your cat has to touch it or put it in her mouth each time she approaches it. If she starts to lose interest or doesn’t want to move to the toy in a different spot, ease off the training. Resume regular play and try the training again the following day. Start from the previous step, with your cat getting used to holding the toy in her mouth, and then shift to your cat holding to toy from the ground.
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    Get your cat to pick up the toy and bring it to you. Start by placing the toy on the ground in front of your cat. Let your cat put her mouth on the toy and pick it up for five to ten seconds. Then, click and give her a treat.[8]
    • Place the toy behind your cat. Your cat should then turn, pick up the toy, and turn around with the toy in her mouth. Click and give her a treat. Repeat this process again, moving the toy farther away from you and your cat.
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    Reinforce a successful fetch with a treat. Once your cat understands she is picking up the toy and bringing it back to you, practice a simple fetch where you throw the toy somewhere within her line of sight and wait for her to bring it back. Reward a successful fetch with a click and a treat.[9] Only play fetch three to five minutes at a time to keep your cat engaged in the game.[10]
    • If your cat fetches the toy but will not drop it in front of you, show her the treat. She will likely drop the toy in favor of the treat.[11]
    • Alternatively, you may need to teach her to "drop" it by scattering high value treats, and clicking when she drops the toy to get the treat whilst you give the cue word "drop".
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    Keep the fetch object in a special place. Rather than put the fetch toy in with the other cat toys, keep it in a drawer or a cupboard to show your cat it has value. Your cat will then understand the toy is for fetch only and when the fetch toy comes out, it’s time for a fetch session.[12]

Article Info

Categories: Cat Toys