Teach your cat to fetch – Part 3


Over the years, I have had quite a few cats. Cat’s of all sizes and temperament. And I have learned that, contrary to the general consensus, cats are quite trainable and that the secret to successful cat training lies in a knowledge of some basic cat psychology.

Someone has said, “Cats do not have owners. They have staff.” For the most part, they train US. They tell us when they do or do not wish to be petted or when they want to be fed. Every cat lover knows that their pets can be stubborn, spiteful, and at times downright sarcastic. Many times I have slept in past my cat’s feeding time only to be awakened by the sound of small items crashing to the floor after being oh-so intentionally swept from the tops of dressers and night tables until I, the cook, finally got the message and left the bed.

Cats are without argument intelligent. They are also innately playful, whether as kittens or mature animals. The combination of these two traits was quite apparent in my cat “Baby” the day I taught her (or did she teach me?) to play fetch.

I was a cigarette smoker then. One day, I took an empty pack, crumpled it up into a small ball and threw it towards the waste basket. I missed. As I stood to retrieve it, Baby pounced on it and immediately began to bat at it with her paws, knocking it around the room like a hockey puck. Being playful myself, I decided to join in the fun.

I got down on the floor and grabbed Baby’s new toy and threw it across the room. She quickly jumped on it and again began to play her solo hockey game. Again, I grabbed it and tossed it across the room, and again she pounced and played.

We repeated this action until I finally threw her “ball” harder, not only across the room, but through the door and into the next room where it wound up under a bed. Baby took off like a rocket. It took her a while to find it and, there being little play space for her under the bed, she picked it up and carried it into the room where I was. And then the magic moment arrived.

With her new toy still between her teeth, Baby walked straight to where I sat on the floor, dropped it about two feet in front of me, sat down herself, and stared (as only cats can do) right into my eyes! Hoping that this was no fluke, I again threw the toy as far as I could. Sure enough, Baby ran right to it, picked it up and again walked straight to me where she again dropped it, this time right in my lap! The game had been established. Baby was now a retriever! We played a few rounds but Baby eventually grew bored with the game. Or so I thought.

The next morning, as I sat eating my breakfast, Baby jumped up on the table and dropped her new toy right-smack-dab in the middle of my bowl of corn flakes. Again she sat and stared at me, this time as if to say “We will play now.” This was not a request like when a dog brings you his stick, wags his or her tail and has that hopeful look in the eyes. “Can we? Huh? Can we?” Baby was commanding me to throw the ball. I could not help but laugh. “Yes!” I said triumphantly between bursts of laughter. “Let the games begin,” and, after shaking off the milk, threw the toy across the kitchen. We played a few rounds until, once again, Baby grew bored and went to take a nap.

Baby never forgot the game. I later made her a new toy by crumpling up some cellophane and wrapping it with string. Light weight and easy for her to carry. We wore out quite a few of these over the years

I believe that anyone can train a cat to fetch. But the question will always remain, “Who’s training who?

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