Are you trying to get your feline fur baby to burn some energy? Or are you looking for another level of fun at playtime? Cat agility may be the answer. While dog agility is more well-known, cats have their own sport, too! It’s an excellent activity to do with your pet and it has a lot of benefits. Keep reading to learn about feline agility, how to build obstacle courses for your cat, and what it takes to advance in cat agility competition.
Let’s run and jump in!
Can Cats Do Agility?
Cats can do agility. While the training and their abilities are different from dogs, cats are capable of demonstrating their own unique form of agility. With their innate sense of balance, keen reflexes, and natural athleticism, some cats can excel in agility courses designed to test their ability to jump, weave through obstacles, and navigate tunnels.
Cat agility can be a rewarding and entertaining activity, showcasing the feline’s capacity for dexterity and problem-solving. Overall, agility is a great way to keep your cat from being bored. Or if it’s shy, agility can build their confidence. The workout also helps them sleep better.
What Makes Cats So Athletic?
Cats are known for their remarkable athleticism. Their bodies, powerful muscles, and flexibility contribute to their extraordinary agility and physical prowess. Cats actually have over 500 skeletal muscles, which is the main reason they’re so athletic.
Another key factor is cats’ natural hunting instincts, which have driven them to develop incredible speed, precision, and coordination over generations. Their keen senses, particularly their exceptional vision and acute hearing, enable them to track and respond to movement with incredible accuracy. Cats’ retractable claws and padded paws also provide them with grip and balance, making them excellent climbers and jumpers.
A breed that’s typically named the best cat at agility is the Egyptian Mau. It has the ability to run 30 miles per hour. The cat is also a phenomenal jumper due to its powerful legs.
Suggested Reading: Cats may be good climbers and jumpers, but what about tall objects? Do cats need to be rescued out of tall trees?
How Do I Teach My Cat Agility?
Teaching your cat agility can be rewarding and a way to bond with your pet while enhancing their physical and mental abilities. Start slow, and be patient and consistent. Also, remember that not all cats will be interested in or adept at agility exercises. Felines’ individual personalities and preferences play a role in their participation. So, observe your cat throughout the process and take it one step at a time.
Watch an Online Course
There are several online courses that teach cat agility and its concepts. You can do a simple online search and find videos and how-to guides. For example, the Outdoor Bengal, a clicker cat trainer authority, has a free step-by-step guide for agility training.
Get Accessories & Equipment
Once you have knowledge about feline agility, it’s time to get accessories and equipment to start training. International Cat Agility Tournaments offers a guide to professional-grade equipment. We recommend starting with a few accessories to see how your cat does with them. Then, add more as you feel more confident and as your cat gets more comfortable with the training.
Train With Positive Reinforcement
Cat agility training using positive reinforcement is best. This method involves using treats, toys, and praise to motivate your pet to engage with obstacles and perform specific actions. By associating rewards with the successful completion of a specific behavior, such as jumping over hurdles or going through tunnels, cats are more likely to repeat those actions in the future.
Cats also respond to certain cues. Clicker training is an ideal way to teach cat agility. They associate the sound of a clicker with a reward. Target training is another useful method in which cats learn to touch an object, like your hand, with their nose or paw. This cue is useful to guide them through an agility course.
Do Short Sessions
Doing short training sessions will keep your cat from getting distracted or frustrated. If you do notice your cat getting agitated or bored, that’s your cue to stop the session. Try to anticipate when your pet is winding down so that the sessions remain fun for you both.
Practice Patience and Consistency
Along with short sessions, patience and consistency are key to agility training. Some cats take longer than others to learn even simple cues or obstacles. Go at your cat’s pace and recognize its needs.
Do Cats Like Obstacle Courses?
Cats’ reactions to obstacle courses can vary widely based on their individual personalities and levels of curiosity. While some cats embrace a challenge and like agility courses, others might approach them more cautiously. Cats with high energy levels and natural hunting instincts might find obstacle courses stimulating and engaging. They likely see them as mimicking the thrill of stalking. For many cats, the appeal lies in the sensory stimulation and opportunity for play.
Whatever your cat’s preferences, give it space to discover an obstacle course on its own before you start a training session. Being attuned to your cat’s signals will help create a positive experience.
Are There Cat Agility Competitions?
Feline agility competitions are popular and gaining a lot of attention at cat shows. They’re entertaining and a great way to showcase cats’ natural athleticism and abilities. Similar to agility competitions for dogs, cat agility events involve setting up courses with various obstacles like tunnels, hurdles, weave poles, and platforms. Cats navigate through the courses with their handler or trainer and are timed.
Pro Tip: If you’re interested in unique agility exercises for your dog too, check out canine freestyle.
Practice Agility With Your Cat for Fun or Sport
Practice agility with your cat for fun or to gear up for a competition. The sport is an excellent way to bond with your pet and keep it healthy and active. Your cat might just like it so much that it’ll beg you to try a competition!
Have you tried feline agility? How did your cat do? Share your experience in the comments below.
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