Why should the dogs have all the fun? Feline fetching is good exercise and it's actually a natural feline behavior to chase, grab and carry the "catch". It's a normal feline behavior to run after something that is moving, jump on it, and grasp it with the mouth. In certain situations, cats also carry their prey...either to a safe dining place or to a nest full of hungry kittens.
Some of our more sedate domesticated cats, however, don't see the need to chase after anything...much less retrieve it. But given a structured program (details will follow in a few paragraphs even these feline couch potatoes can be taught to fetch. If your cat is a "natural feline fetcher" , he'll breeze through the fetching program...and skip a few steps along the way.
The most active feline fetchers tend to be cats of the Siamese and Abyssinian breeds. However, it's doubtful that there's a particular gene that promotes fetching behavior. It's likely part of an underlying receptive personality. Cats of oriental breeds tend to be active, bold, and playful, the type of cats likely to enjoy chasing and catching. And, these breeds tend to be highly interactive with their owners. Playing a game of feline fetching satisfies this cat's exercise needs and its need to interact.
Some cats enjoy picking up and carrying objects but show little interest in bringing the object back. Cats of the Munchkin breed, for instance, are famous for finding "treasures" and then stashing the loot in a secure location. Training such a cat to bring an object back requires creativity to overcome its innate hoarding nature. For some cats, playing feline fetching borders on an obsession.
My cat, Diablo, who passed away years ago....would play fetch as long as someone would throw the fur ball for him....I was even able to tie a loose ribbon around a toy and hang it from the rails leading upstairs. He would jump up to get it at first, then he got smart and went up the stairs to pull it up and "capture it" and run back with it.
I didn't consider this an obsession but thought he, like many other cats, may have simply found a fabulously fun game to play that they never wanted to end. But no matter if your cat is fanatical about feline fetching or merely exhilarated by the game, he'll get exercise, and you'll have additional opportunities to build a closer relationship with your furry friend.
Before beginning your cat's fetch training, cut up some of his favorite treats into very small pieces. Offering a variety of treats will keep his interest keen. If your cat is clicker trained, get out your clicker. If he's not, consider clicker training him before beginning fetch training.
To start fetch training, show your cat an object he already likes to play with... such as a soft foam cat ball or a piece of wadded-up paper. Keep the toy close to you and encourage him to sniff it. Reward him for making any move toward the toy. Remember, you should always be generous in your rewards, especially in the early stages of training a new behavior.
Next, encourage your cat to pick up the toy...perhaps by rubbing a small amount of a tasty treat on it. Once your cat has picked it up, manipulate his position with your treat so when he drops the toy to get his reward, you have his mouth positioned over your hand. Once your cat understands the game, reward him intermittently to increase his enthusiasm for continuing to play.
Begin the second stage of training by placing the toy a few inches away from you and encouraging your cat to go pick it up. Then watch him closely. Any time he shifts any part of his body toward you, or even if you think he's thinking about turning toward you...reward him.
Eventually you should reward him only for dropping the toy in your hand. Continue the exercise but toss the toy farther and farther away, eventually tossing it across the room or down the hall. Then, you can sit by as your disbelieving friends watch your amazing feline fetcher do his thing.
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