How to Train a Cat to High Five

Training cats isn’t especially difficult—you truly just need a bit of patience and a positive attitude! As Newsweek reports, cats aren’t as dependent on humans as dogs are, so it can take a bit more effort, but many enjoy the mental stimulation and togetherness of this training, which should feel like playtime. Happy, confident cats take best to training, but even shy and aloof cats may be open to learning tricks with the right person and right environment. Just remember never to get frustrated or disappointed if your cat fails. Continue the step you’re on until she gets it, and if that day never comes, accept that your cat does not want to learn tricks, and play with her in other ways instead!

Great, how do I train my cat to high five?

Let’s start with some universal pointers for training a cat to do anything.

  • Keep your sessions short! 3-minute sessions are best, with no more than 3 per day. In the beginning, even a 1-minute session works, especially if your cat is confused or frustrated.
  • Always have fun! This should feel like playtime, so keep the mood positive and supportive no matter how often your cat fails to do what you want. If the vibe veers into discomfort, it won’t succeed. Skip sessions whenever kitty’s in a bad mood.
  • Be prepared! Have everything you need before beginning. It’s important that these steps aren’t interrupted by you running to fetch something.
  • Clear the room! Choose a space that is as free from distraction as possible. There shouldn’t be other toys, food bowls, or loud noises nearby. There also shouldn’t be other animals in the room. Likewise, leave your own distractors (like phones, television, music, etc.) powered off so you’re completely focused and your cat isn’t distracted by random sounds.
  • Choose the right motivators! Stock up on small, easy to chew treats for training sessions. If treats aren’t cutting it, purchasing a new training toy may be the solution. Any type of toy your cat enjoys will work, but only bring it out for training sessions so it remains special. Whenever the guide below mentions a treat reward, play together with the toy for 10–15 seconds instead. If using treats, training sessions should be held between or before meals, not after, when your cat is already full.

A shortcut to training a cat to high five

Sit in front of your cat (ideally also sitting) and put your hand in high-five position a few inches from his face. Hold there until he touches it out of curiosity, then immediately say a positive word like “yes” or “good” and provide a treat. If he uses his nose to investigate instead, you can try starting a little lower, and not raising your height until he reliably low fives you (always getting a treat for success). Some cats will learn to high five simply from this, so it’s wise to give it a try out the outset, but most will need more thorough training.

A step-by-step guide to training a cat to high five

  1. Sit in front of your cat. Place your hand upright on the floor in front of him, put a treat in your palm, and quickly cover it with a sticky note. As soon as he touches the note with his paw, say your positive word (“yes!”) and move the sticky note to provide the treat. Repeat until success is constant, then move on.
  2. Elevate your hand a few inches from the ground so kitty’s paw has to reach up a bit, and continue as above, using your positive word and providing a treat for each success. When he reliably taps at this height, move on to a higher height.
  3. Once your cat reliably taps the note in your palm at a height level with his nose, you’re ready to switch to the high five gesture with your palm facing your cat (you’ll have to hold the treat in your other hand now). Remain at nose height until you achieve consistent success with this new gesture, then try having him reach up a bit for a true high five.
  4. When your cat consistently reaches up to high five you, it’s time to start phasing out the post it note. Continue the same process with just half of a note now, and reduce the paper size more and more until there’s nearly nothing left as you progress. Then, remove the paper entirely and rely on just a paw-to-hand tap. Don’t forget to always provide a treat for every single success, and to never move on to a smaller piece until you have achieved reliable, clear success at each stage.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published