Hi there and welcome back to Kitten School! Who DOESN’T love seeing cats perform tricks? I mean, there’s something so adorable about a cat performing a trick and even more astonishingly – on command! I have always been fascinated by the enigmatic psychology of cats And particularly how cleverly they can manipulate and learn from us humans. My Siamese cat Sing Sing has all the traits of a “highly trainable” cat: He’s outgoing, eager to please, and is very, very FOOD motivated! I’m not kidding, This cat will eat ANYTHING! So I thought it would be fun to teach him some simple tricks. I have trained Sing Sing before, such as when I trained him that scratching on the scratchin post – and NOT our sofa, would earn him treats. He now uses only the scratching post, and our sofa is untouched. Recently I taught Sing Sing to walk through this cat tunnel on command …using a “trilling” sound to indicate what I want him to do. He’s got so good at this that he now runs back and forth in the tunnel without me asking him to! So I want to show you steps of how I am teaching Sing Sing to perform these tricks. I am going to use this box and do a really simple exercise that almost any cat could learn. I am going to “ask” him to jump into the box on command. Simple as that! First I get some tasty treats…in this case it is minced turkey, but other times it is bits of cheese. You want the treats to be small enough that cat can eat them quickly. Next I show Sing Sing the treats…and of course he is interested! I then hold a treat over the box and say the command – which is a little “Bloop!” sound The only way he can get the treat is to jump in the box…. …which he does! He earns the treat and lots of praise. Again, I hold the treat over the box and make the command – Bloop! It takes just a few seconds for Sing Sing to jump inside to retrieve his prize. Good Boy! After repeating this a few times Sing Sing starts to jump in the box without me having to show him the treat… He doesn’t need visual proof that he’s going to get a treat… He just knows that if he jumps in the box, he will get one. So by doing this, I know that he’s made the connection between action – performing the command I ask… …and reward: a tasty treat! Ok, now he’s definitely go the gist of what I want him to do. So I’m going to ask him to jump in the box again, But THIS time he’s only going to get praise, not a treat. Behaviorists call this “Intermittent Reinforcement” which means you want to make the treats random once the trick is learned. You don’t want to give the treat EVERY single time. The anticipation is very powerful… It’s what makes people sit at slot machines for hours, even though they don’t win EVERY game! Now the next time he performs the trick, he gets a treat along with the praise. He always gets praise; it’s the treats that are random. His anticipation about whether or not he WILL get a treat drives the excitement and eagerness to continue performing the trick. Alright! I think Sing Sing has the box trick down! We will back with some more difficult tricks soon, so be sure to enroll in Kitten School by clicking that SUBSCRIBE button! So you don’t miss a thing! Have you taught your cat to perform a trick? If so, BRAG about it in the comments!