Teach Your Cat to Fetch

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Introduction: Teach Your Cat to Fetch

I found a kitten in the ditch as I was walking down the road one day.  I brought her home and cleaned her up with all intentions of giving her to one of my lovely friends.  Soon I was once again reminded of the old adage that "kittens are like opinions, everyone is trying to give them away".

To make a long story short; I was stuck with her.

So I decided to teach her how to fetch.

This is how I did it:

Step 1: Find a Toy That Cats Like

I grabbed a plastic bag and pretended like it was the coolest thing on Earth.  I made a lot of noise with it which really piqued the kitten's attention.  I acted foolish like that until she was entirely focused on the bag. 

Step 2: Make the Bag Into a Ball

Then I tied the loud plastic bag into a ball and rubbed some cat treat on it to make it even more appealing. 



Step 3: Keep This in Mind (a Lesson in Cats)

Carrying something in their mouth is natural for cats. It's what they do (especially female cats with their kittens).

You'll be able to tell if this is something natural for your damn cat or if it doesn't want to play fetch.

Dont get angry with your kitty if she doesn't want to play fetch. Just try different methods to get her to actually see YOU carry the ball back to the starting point (mostly in your mouth). Whenever she actually picks up the ball and tries to bring it back, Reward her! Simple playful pets work great! Once in a while give her a food treat (POUNCE, tuna, etc).  Don't spoil her with rewards though.  If you spoil her, then she'll just turn into a snobby cat like your friend's cat. 

Rewards should be random after she realises the routine. 

Step 4: Teach Kitty to Carry It in Her Mouth

I dont have a pic for this, but this is the most important part!

For my kitten, Dorothy, I took her into a small room (the bathroom).  I then sat on one side of the room and after I teased her with the bag/ ball a little, I tossed it to the other side of the room then I, myself, crawled over to the bag/ ball (at this point she will be so interested that you'll probably have to take it from the cat) and put the ball in my mouth and brought it back to where I started.

Let kitty see what you are doing (actually put the ball in your mouth and crawl back to where you started). Do it again. Do it again. Do it again. Keep doing it. I recommend a small room because it makes it easier to go back and forth.

Kitty will eventually learn that with bringing the ball/bag back a reward is in store.


Step 5: Remember, Cats Are Easily Distracted

Keep your cat interested in chasing the ball and bringing it back to you. I picked her up a lot of times, put the ball in my mouth and brought her and the ball back to the starting point. Give her a treat once in a while. Flip her over, pet her. Talk to her in cat talk.

When your kitty gets sick of it (maybe a leaf blows by and she goes for that), just forget about it and come back to the task at hand later.
Repetition is the key but there is a fine line.
Don't make it into a military drill or your cat will never fetch and someday eat you in your sleep.
Remember, your kitty is not a doggy.  Cats will hold grudges.





Step 6: See Spot Fetch

I did a lot of reading on this (about 15 minutes worth) and used the methods that I've explained. My new found kitten seems to be a natural at fetching. Check her out!

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162 Comments

See Spot. See Spot run. See Spot fetch. See Spot have fun.

Seems I have a natural fetcher. I was checking online to see how common it is and ended up here. I've noticed that he's routine oriented and I suspect that most cats are as well. IE, I have to be in the living room throwing and for him to return the ball. If i do the same from the kitchen, he's confused and doesn't return the ball.

Also of note, Juby learned to turn on our touch sensitive faucet to get himself a drink any time he wants after about 20 minutes of instruction on how to work it. We just have to remember to leave it on cool/low stream. The tap has a safety and turns itself after 4 minutes.

Why did you name your cat Juby? I adopted a cat 2 weeks ago from a shelter and her name was Juby as given by a previous owner...

We got him from a shelter. Actually he spent his first year in a cage... its sad. He's pretty happy now. The previous owner who gave him up, or the shelter called him Jube-Jube. I guess because he's black? I dunno. Anyhow we just call him Juby and 'The Jube-ster". He seems to respond well to it.

He's a bit of work, as he's a wire chewer. Loves anything from USB to power cords. We've tried everything to stop him.

My cat is lazy

I had a cat that just did this on command, I would say "Mitten" and she would bring me this balled up mitten of hers. I would throw it and she would bring it back to me, we would do it for hours. Lol.

Seems I have a natural fetcher. I was checking online to see how common it is and ended up here. I've noticed that he's routine oriented and I suspect that most cats are as well. IE, I have to be in the living room throwing and for him to return the ball. If i do the same from the kitchen, he's confused and doesn't return the ball.

Also of note, Juby learned to turn on our touch sensitive faucet to get himself a drink any time he wants after about 20 minutes of instruction on how to work it. We just have to remember to leave it on cool/low stream. The tap has a safety and turns itself after 4 minutes.