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Home > Cats > Can a Cat Play Fetch? Feline Training Tips

Can a Cat Play Fetch? Feline Training Tips

brown tabby playing with cat toy

Fetch is a long-time favorite game of dog owners, but many cat owners feel like they can’t join in the fun with their furry friend. After all, cats don’t know how to play fetch, right? They may be good at leaping after a wand toy or batting a mouse toy underneath the couch, but surely your cat wouldn’t fancy a game of fetch.

If you don’t have a cat that plays fetch, then it likely will come as a surprise to you to learn that many cats naturally know how to play fetch. For cats that don’t seem to naturally know how to play fetch, they often can be taught how to play this fun game.


Why Do Some Cats Enjoy Playing Fetch?

Fetch is a great game for cats because it activates their natural hunting instincts. Cats are apex predators that use their stealth, agility, and speed to catch prey and bring it home. It’s not uncommon for outdoor cats to bring their prey home to their people in an attempt to provide and show their people how to hunt.

The catching of prey and returning with it is natural for cats and is also the basis for a game of fetch. Some cat breeds are more likely to play fetch without being taught the game, like the Bengal, Siamese, Abyssinian, Cornish Rex, Ragdoll, and Manx. These cats may bring a toy to you in the hopes you’ll toss it for them, while others may start playing fetch if they see you throw an item, like if your balled-up piece of paper misses the trash can.

Domestic Medium Hair Cat Playin WIth Toy_Cavan Images_Shutterstock
Image Credit By: Cavan Images, Shutterstock

How to Teach a Cat to Play Fetch

While training may differ between cats, the most successful method of training a cat to play fetch is clicker training. You’ll also need to select a toy that your cat enjoys and that is easy for them to carry. This can be a crinkle ball, mouse toy, jingle ball, or another small toy.

You’ll start the training by sitting with your cat and presenting the toy to them. Every time your cat sniffs or touches the toy, click and give a treat. This will help your cat understand what the focus of the game is. Continue with this clicker training by slowly advancing to clicking and offering treats when your cat places an open mouth on the toy. Offer another reward when they take the toy from your hand, and another time once they understand that they should pick it up once it’s on the ground.

Once your cat understands the basic purpose of the game, you’ll be able to start moving the toy further and further away and encouraging your cat to bring it back. When they do, provide a click and a treat, as well as lots of praise. Over time, your cat will understand how to play fetch and it will be a fun bonding game for both of you.

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In Conclusion

It may take time and patience to teach your cat to play fetch if they don’t naturally understand the game. Many cats can learn how to play this game and will likely enjoy it as well. Fetch is a good way to encourage your cat to use their hunting instincts without hurting other animals or your local ecosystem. This is a game that can provide enrichment for your cat, as well as give them an outlet for energy and their natural curiosity.


Featured Image Credit: Arina Krasnikova, Pexels

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