What is the best way to teach my cat to touch an object using his front paw?

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Getting a cat to touch an object with his paw when you use the words words like touch, pick, or paw is actually one of the easiest “tricks” you can teach your pet.

Always work with the cat just before his morning or evening meal when the treats you will offer for reinforcement are especially tempting. Pick an initial object that’s sturdy and won’t topple over and startle the cat, and know what signal word you want to use. Stay consistent, and always use your cat’s name along with the reward.

Put your cat on a table with the object between you and the animal. Hold your hand out toward the cat with the treat in the palm of your hand and say, “Fluffy, touch.” Use your empty hand to tap the object.

Your goal is for the cat to come toward you to get the treat and in the process to touch the object. The instant he does, praise the cat. If he doesn’t touch the object, rearrange everything. Make it virtually impossible for the cat to get to the treat without touching the object.

Do this four or five times and then stop the session by letting the cat have the remaining treats and lots of praise. Cats have a short attention span, so you don’t want to go longer than 10 minutes. Be patient and repeat this sequence until the cat is comfortable touching the object, then move on to a different item.

Over time, you will no longer have to touch the item to get the cat’s attention. Fluffy will figure out that if you say touch and he does the tapping, treats will ensue. Cats are highly intelligent and they actually pick up learned behaviors fairly quickly when they figure out there’s something in it for them.

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