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Sitting Pretty



Abyssinian kitten sitting, looking up, alert, 3 months old, isolated on white

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Let’s just get it out there first; cats are not dogs. Cats don’t behave like dogs. Cats are not social, like dogs. Yet people insist on claiming the dog is more intelligent than the cat because the dog comes to you when called because he shakes paws with you when asked because he can sit pretty. A cat has no time for that. She’s too busy looking for her next kill to beg for you social attention. The cat was not selected as a companion. We leave companionship to our dog friends.


Little red kitten sitting on white background. Studio photography.

Despite all the instinctual disadvantages of not being a social, needy creature, like the dog, you can still teach your cat to do dog things, like shake paws, sit pretty, and come on command. The trick is to appeal to your cat’s stomach. 


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A cat is motivated mostly by its desire to find and eat food. By using this motivation as a tool you can teach your cat the basics. Here’s how to teach your cat to sit. 


Start with a small amount of high-value treats, like tiny cubes of chicken. Get your cat’s attention with the chicken by placing it close to her close so she can smell it. Once she’s all eyes, move the chicken in an arch. Your cat will follow the arch with her eyes and nose and as her chin goes up her bottom will go down, and she will sit. Give her the sit command as you arch the treat and reward her with the treat even if her butt doesn’t touch the floor. Repeat this process each time but never deny your cat the treat. Eventually, she’ll understand the association and commit it to memory. Then you’re set up with a cat that can do the dog basics. Who’s smarter now?


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