What is a clicker?

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A clicker is a training device that is used in a specific type of animal training called operant conditioning. The method supports an animal’s natural tendency to repeat actions that garner positive consequences. There is no punishment in this approach, only “making” of the desired behavior with a “click” and a treat or similar reward.

Clickers are small devices, usually made of plastic, that are outfitted with a strip of metal that makes a clicking sound when pressed. It’s a perfect device for use with cats because it is completely unique in the cat’s “vocabulary” of sounds.

One of the reasons your cat ignores your voice is that he hears it constantly and you don’t seem to be saying much he wants to hear apart from phrases like “cat food” and praise. All that criticism and disciplinary reasoning goes right in one of his highly attuned ears and out the other.

Almost immediately, however, the cat recognizes the click as a distinct form of communication associated with desired behaviors that, when paired with the reward, the cat will want to repeat.

This is not an automatic process, however. You will need to watch training videos to learn the proper technique, and patience is required, especially in older cats who have been doing things their own way all their lives.

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