How to Train a Cat to Sit

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 that 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 their best to training, but even shy and aloof cats may be open to learning tricks with the right person and the 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 sit?

Let’s start with 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 upbeat 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 the kitty’s in a bad mood.
  • Be prepared! Have everything you need before beginning. These steps mustn’t be 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 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 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 full.

A step-by-step guide to training a cat to sit

  1. Sit in front of your cat and hold a treat about an inch from his face (standing and leaning can intimidate some cats). If your cat doesn’t take treats from your hand, you can try placing one on a popsicle stick instead.
  2. Raise the treat upward so your cat’s head tilts as she watches it, then move it parallel to her back, toward her tail. Your cat should sit naturally by following the treat. If she doesn’t, just hold the treat over her tailbone until she does. Never try to speed up the process by “helping” your cat with a push or pat on her bum—this can cause trust issues and even injury.
  3. When she sits, say a positive word like “good” and immediately provide the treat by tossing it to make her stand again. If she won’t follow, feed it to her and then scoot back, so she’ll have to get up to follow you for the next one.
  4. Repeat this process a few times so your cat begins to associate sitting on the floor with hearing your positive words and receiving a treat. When she consistently sits, move on to hand signals.
  5. Choose a non-threatening gesture, like facing your palm toward your kitty in the “stop” position, and do this instead of guiding the treat toward your cat’s tail. As above, use your positive word (“good”) and provide a treat as soon as she sits. Repeat until she consistently sits when viewing your gesture, then move on to verbal cues.
  6. Choose any word to be your command. “Sit” makes the most sense, but the word itself is irrelevant, mainly if you use the same tone and inflection each time. Say your chosen word immediately before showing your hand gesture; soon, the word will replace the need to demonstrate a gesture.
  7.  Once your cat entirely consistently performs on your verbal cue, you can practice moving further away from your cat before giving the command and providing the treat, but remember that you’ll pretty much always need to provide that treat after a successful performance or your cat will likely lose interest and may untrain herself to care about your command.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published