Is it Possible to Teach a Cat to Shake?

Dogs and cats have extremely different personalities and behaviors, but this is one thing they're both equally capable of. All it takes is a little patience and the proper training, with positive reinforcement and treats.
Is it Possible to Teach a Cat to Shake?

Last update: 26 October, 2018

Dogs and cats are the most well-known and common pets in most peoples’ homes, but they’re also very different. Most people think dogs are easy to train, whereas cats will never do anything that’s asked. However, is that actually true? For example, is it possible to teach a cat how to shake?

Is it possible to teach a cat how to shake?

If you have a cat and want to teach them some tricks in order to show off to your friends and have some fun with your pet, then the answer is yes, it’s possible. You can teach a cat how to shake, along with other tricks. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Get a clicker

A clicker is a small plastic device with a button that makes a click sound when pressed. What is it for? If you use it right, it can help you teach your cat tricks and other things much faster.

The idea is to associate the click with a reward. For example, you could tell it to shake and then click. Obviously, it’s not going to work on the first try. You can start by shaking their paw yourself to help them understand what you’re asking, and then show them a reward to motivate them. 

Train them when they’re hungry

The rewards you use for training should generally be treats (food) because it’s the only real way to get your pet to listen closely. However, if your cat has just eaten, they probably won’t be very interested in the treat. 

If you start training your cat when they have eaten in a while, then they will be much more interested in the reward. That means they will pay more attention to you and what you’re trying to teach them.

They need to be relaxed

Don’t just think about whether or not your cat has eaten recently. It’s also important to make sure that they’re in a relaxed state when you want to train them. Of course, they shouldn’t be sleepy, just calm. A nervous or stressed cat isn’t going to be able to focus, so they won’t pay any attention to what you’re asking them to do.

Cat with hand in front of it

Do short sessions

Remember that your cat isn’t a human. Their attention span is even shorter than ours. So, try to keep the training sessions short–about 5 minutes at a time. If your cat has made an effort, even if only to understand you, give them a reward (but not the same one you give them when correctly follow directions). Let your cat rest for about 10 minutes and then try again later.

Choose a spot

This is also a very important part of training your cat. You need a clear space that’s not too warm or cold and is free of any distractions. Any sudden sounds or movements could draw your cat’s attention and cause the training session to be unproductive.

Draw a connection between the reward and obedience

This is the most important step of all. So, how do you make sure your cat connects the clicker, the command, and the reward? Take your cat’s paw when you say the word you chose for the command. Remember: it should be short and ideally with only one syllable. So, the words “shake” or “paw” are usually good options.

reward for cat

While you’re holding their paw, click the clicker and give your cat a reward. Now try it again without grabbing their paw. You could tap your cat a few times on that paw to remind them about what you want from them. Click it again and wait for them to react. This time around, don’t give them a reward if they haven’t given your their paw.

Little by little, with a consistent, daily routine, it’s definitely possible to teach a cat how to shake. Whoever said that only dogs could learn commands? Cats are just as intelligent, so they’re perfectly capable of learning the same things as their canine friends. So, how about giving it a try?

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.