Contrary to what some might believe, you can teach your cat tricks. This writer’s late cat, Tereza, learned how to roll over when she was a kitten – a trick she usually did on command with little prompting. Not all cats want to learn tricks. This writer’s extremely food-oriented cat, Abbi, refused to learn. You never know with cats!
Even so, you can try to teach your cat tricks by utilizing a book such as the one I used: The Little Book Of Cat Tricks by Sandra Toney. Although Toney’s book is out of print, it’s available in a Kindle edition, and may be found on used book sites such as Alibris.
Here’s the roll over like rover trick lesson:
‘When it comes to performing 360-degree belly rolls on the kitchen floor for treats, dogs dominate. But step aside, Fido. This feat can also be easily mastered by any food-motivated feline….’ who also easily flops on the floor in front of you for positive reasons.
According to Tomey, ‘for this trick, timing is oh-so vital. Improve your chances for success by introducing this trick when our cat is just -yawn – stretching from one of her numerous afternoon catnaps or is impatiently ushering you into the kitchen for a feed-me-now tasty treat.
‘A sleepy cat is willing to let gravity guide her to the ground, and a hungry cat is willing to give you her total attention in hopes of chewing on some delightful dividends.
‘Break down this trick in little steps and build on each minor success. Heap on the praise and the treats along the way until you can have your cat drop, flop and roll in one fluid motion – preferably in front of house-guests you wish to wow…
‘Some cats are all ears; for others, their eyes rule their universe. Rely on both hand signals and verbal cues. Each reinforces the other… Be consistent: Use the same hand motion and the same words each and every time. Once your cat knows the trick in her sleep, you can then try having her perform by using only one cue.
‘Kneel in front of your cat as she sits on the floor. Give her a sweet cat wink and speak in an upbeat tone. You’ve captured her attention.
‘Hold a small treat in your right hand. Give her a few seconds to eye the treat to spark her interest. Slowly guide the little nibble of food counterclockwise over your cat’s left shoulder to the point that she must swivel her head to continue to look at it.
‘Say ‘roll over,’ as you keep moving your hand up and over her shoulder and toward the floor. When your cat tries to snag the treat with her paws, the laws of physics kick in. Her belly will automatically go up, and she will roll over on her side. If your cats looks a little spooked, gently cajole her by nudging her top front leg to the other side and saying, ‘roll over.’
‘Don’t delay – hand over the treat. Allow her plenty of time to chew and swallow before continuing. Remember, you need to reward each small victory!
‘With your cat flopped on her side, use a new treat positioned under her nose and continue moving slowly counterclockwise until she is back into a ‘sit’ or ‘four-on-the-floor’ position. Again, reward with a treat.
‘Practice this trick daily, but limit each class session to five minutes or less. Cats crave routine, but please, don’t go overboard, or you will risk boring your cat. She may simply stand up and strut out of the room with her tail pointed up in the air. Class is over.
‘Your cat may flawlessly perform the ‘roll over’ trick a dozen times in a week without a miss. Then, suddenly, she will stop in mid-flop and give you a big look of confusion. She may have been distracted by the loud barking of your neighbor’s dog, by the whiff of tuna casserole bubbling in your oven or by the sight of a very clumsy but friendly child headed her way. Or the cause for the ruined ‘roll over’ may never be known.
‘Don’t panic. Just start back at the beginning. Build on each mini-victory until your cat’s memory kicks in and she is back to flip-flopping her way to fun.’
Photo Source: Flickr user Jon-Eric Melsaeter