32 tricks to teach your cat

Smiling woman playing with her cat — this is one of the best tricks to teach your cat
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So you’re looking for tricks to teach your cat but you’re not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Teaching your cat a trick is a wonderful way to add some mental and physical enrichment into their day and for the most part, all you need is a pack of the best cat treats to get started.

And if you’re concerned that learning how to teach a cat a trick might be a more complicated process than the two of you are ready for, don’t be. Tricks range in difficulty from easy through to advanced, so you’re sure to find one (or more) that suits.

Ready to help your cat pull a rabbit out of their hat? Okay, maybe that one’s asking a little too much. But if you’re keen to have them jumping through hoops and giving visitors a high-five then read on because you’ll find both of those and a whole lot more in this guide.

32 tricks to teach your cat

1. Sit

Cat sitting for a treat

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It’s not just our canine companions that can be taught to sit, our feline friends can be too! One of the things you only know if you’re a cat owner is that our independent-minded kitties aren’t always very obliging about doing things they don’t want to do. However, teaching them to sit is actually really easy. This is a great trick to teach them right before you feed them a bowl of the best cat food. Simply use a hand gesture while saying the word ‘sit’. Once they’ve done this, reward them by placing their food on the ground and say ‘well done’.

2. Stay

Cat sitting

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Teaching your cat to stay is another fairly easy trick to start off with. Ask your cat to sit and once they’ve done that, issue the command ‘stay’. Once they’ve held the position for a second or two, reward with a treat. Gradually increase the duration you ask them to stay for, but remember to keep rewarding and praising them. Dishing out lots of positive reinforcement is great for getting cats to repeat desired behaviors.

3. High-five

Bengal giving owner high-five

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The high-five trick is one of our favorite simple tricks that’s a real crowd-pleaser! What you want to do here is to get your cat’s paw to touch your opposite hand, and it’s easier than you might think. Place a treat or a piece of the best dry cat food in a closed hand and hold that hand out to your cat, as soon as they touch your hand with their paw, reward them by giving them the treat. Keep repeating this, gradually bringing your hand into more of a high-five position every time you do.

4. Jump through a hoop

Cat playing with hoops

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It’s normally our feline friends that make us jump through hoops, so it’s nice to turn the tables on them now and again! A particularly great trick to teach agile and high energy cat breeds, jumping through a hoop is a brilliant way to add some physical activity into your kitty’s day. Start by letting your cat check out the hoop — they may want to sniff it or walk around it. Reward them as they do this. Hold the hoop but keep it connected to the ground, use treats to encourage your cat to walk through it. Once your cat has walked through a few times and you’ve rewarded them, start to raise it off the ground. Keep raising and rewarding until your cat can jump through it.

5. Lie down

Cat lying down

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Given that there’s nothing our feline friends love more than to snooze the day away, getting your kitty to master this trick shouldn’t be too difficult! This is a particularly good trick to teach them if you’re looking to make those trips to the vet that little bit easier. The first thing you want to do is to hold a treat close to your cat’s nose and let them sniff it. Next, gradually lower the treat to the floor, guiding your kitty into a lying down position. Praise and reward. Repeat the above process three times and then add in the command ‘lie down’. Once again, praise and reward. Once your cat has gotten the hang of this, you can also add in a hand signal — we like an open palm facing downwards.

6. Roll over

Scottish Fold cat rolling over

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Just like dogs, cats can be trained to roll over. Start by asking your cat to lie down and rewarding them with a treat. Sitting in front of your cat and with your palm facing downwards, hold a treat between the very end of your index finger and your thumb. If you want your cat to roll to your right (their left), arc the treat in a slight incline towards their right ear. Once the treat is in front of your cat’s ear, move it diagonally towards the middle of their back. As their eyes follow the treat, they’ll be looking over their shoulder. Continue to move the treat diagonally until your cat rolls all the way over. Praise and reward.

7. Fetch

Kitten with toy in mouth

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Can cats play fetch? Absolutely! While we tend to associate fetch with dogs, it turns out that a lot of cat breeds enjoy playing this game too. This is one of those intermediate tricks that can take a while for your kitty to master, but once they’ve got the hang of it, it can be a whole lot of fun for both of you. You’ll want one of the best cat toys for this and preferably a toy your kitty really loves. Start by playing with them using the toy. Next, toss the toy a few feet away from you and encourage your cat to go and engage with it. When they touch the toy or pick it up, reward them with praise and a treat. You then want to use a command like ‘bring it’ that encourages your cat to pick up the toy and bring it over to you. Once your cat has brought the toy over, reward again.

8. Stand on hind legs

Cat stood on hind legs

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If you’re looking for a trick your cat will master quickly, this one is a great choice. Choose a cue word (we love ‘up’) and hold a treat above your cat’s head. This will encourage your cat to stand in order to get their paws on the treat. Keep repeating this until your kitty is confident knowing what to do and then gradually phase out the treat so that they’re able to stand on command.

9. Shake hands

Young woman shaking hands with Scottish Fold kitten

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Having your cat be able to shake hands with your visitors is a super impressive trick and it’s not hard to teach either. Start by touching your cat’s paw and rewarding them with a treat. Once they’re comfortable with that, offer them your hand with your palm facing upwards and gently touch their paw while saying the word ‘shake’. When your cat extends their paw, repeat the word ‘shake’ and reward them with a treat. Over time, you’ll be able to issue your command word (‘shake’) before extending your hand.

10. Come when called

Cat running outside

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This is a very handy trick to teach your kitty, especially if you have one of the cat breeds that prefer being outdoors. Start by standing next to your cat and pairing their name with the command ‘come’. Crinkle a bag of cat treats and then reward your cat with a treat as you do this. Once your cat understands that their name and the word ‘come’ result in a treat, you can start working on this at greater distances. Each time your cat comes, gradually increase the distance so that your cat has to cross more of the room to get to you. Eventually, you can practice this from different rooms in the house.

11. Spin in a circle

Cat sitting on window ledge

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To teach your cat to spin in a circle, start with a simple circular hand motion and pair it with a command word, like ‘spin’. Hold a treat near your cat’s nose and slowly move it in a circular motion using your hand signal and your command word. Your cat will follow the treat causing them to move in a circle, once they’ve completed the circular motion reward them with the treat and repeat.

12. Wave goodbye

Cat waving

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Is there anything more adorable than a cat who can wave goodbye? We think not! The first thing you want to do is choose a visual cue and a verbal command that signals to your cat you want them to say goodbye to someone. We recommend a wave and the words ‘bye bye’. Gently hold your cat’s paw and move it to create a waving motion paired with your visual cue and verbal command, then reward with praise and treats. Once your cat has got the hang of this, you can let their paw go and simply use your visual cue and verbal command. When your cat moves their paw, be sure to reward heavily.

13. Use a scratching post on command

Cat scratching post

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Trying to encourage your kitty to use one of the best cat scratching posts instead of your couch? We hear you! Training them to do this on command can be a great way to save your furniture and keep their claws in tip-top condition. The best way to do this is to sprinkle some cat treats or catnip onto your cat’s scratching post and reward them every time they show interest in it. Repeat this whenever you want your cat to scratch their post.

14. Walk through a tunnel

Cat in tunnel

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When it comes to the best cat toys, tunnels are often a firm favorite of our feline friends — especially active breeds who love to hide and pounce. Put their interest to good use by teaching them to walk through the tunnel on command. Many cats won’t need tempting into a tunnel, but if yours does, encourage them in with treats and toys. As your cat enters into the tunnel and begins to walk through, reward with lots of praise and treats. This will help them associate the tunnel with good things happening. Keep practicing this until your cat is able to walk all the way through and out the other side.

15. Go to a specific place

Cat sleeping in cat bed

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If you’ve invested in one of the best cat beds, you can encourage your kitty to use it by teaching them to go to their bed on command. Choose a cue word like ‘bed’ that you’ll use every time you want your cat to go to their cozy sleep spot. Then, point to the place you want them to go and say the word ‘bed’. Reward with a treat when they do what you ask. However, it’s important to only give your cat a treat if they make it to the bed so that they associate going there with getting the reward.

16. Open a door

Cat opening door

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Some particularly agile breeds (like the Burmese and the Peterbald) are born brilliant at opening doors. But for most breeds, opening a door on command takes a bit of training. To do this, encourage your cat to touch the door with their paw and when they do, reward them with a treat. Once they have the hang of this, work on getting them to stand up and put their weight against the door so that it opens. Again, reward with a treat. After they’ve mastered these two steps, add in a command word, such as ‘open the door’ and use this whenever you want your kitty to do this behavior.

17. Ring a bell for treats

Cat playing with a bell

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We know — you likely already feel like your feline friend’s servant, but you have to admit, having them ring a bell for treats is kind of cute! Place a bell on the ground and let your cat investigate it. Praise them for any interaction. Ring the bell and then immediately give your cat a treat so that they learn to associate the noise of the bell with a food reward. Next, take your cat’s paw and gently touch the bell with it. As always, follow this up with praise and a treat. Repeat this process as often as needed until your cat is able to ring the bell on their own.

18. Walk on a leash

Cat wearing a harness

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Is walking a cat on a leash cruel? Not if your feline friend enjoys it. If you have an active breed that loves being outdoors, leash training is a great way to give them some freedom while keeping them safe. When it comes to how to leash train a cat, you want to start by making the harness interesting, so we recommend leaving it lying around the house and rewarding your cat any time they show an interest in it. Next, slip the harness on your cat but don’t do it up. Give your cat a treat and remove the harness. Keep doing this, gradually building up the duration of how long they’re in the harness. After this, introduce the leash by clipping it onto the harness. Walk a few steps and reward your cat with a treat. Repeat this, slowly increasing the distance until your cat is able to walk in the direction they choose at their own pace.

19. Use a human toilet

Cat on toilet

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Okay, so maybe opening the door to your bathroom to find your feline friend sitting on the toilet reading the newspaper is a step too far. On the other hand, if you’d rather not invest in one of the best self-cleaning cat litter boxes and don’t fancy scooping out a regular one, this could be the trick for you. To train your kitty to use the toilet, you first need to relocate their litter box to the bathroom. Put the toilet seat down and pop the litter box on it. This gets your cat used to sitting on the toilet to do their business. Once they’re able to do that, replace the litter box with a potty training kit and reward them with plenty of treats when they use it.

20. Play dead

Cat playing dead

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Dogs are masters at the playing dead trick, but cats are capable of doing it too — it just takes a bit of practice. For this one, you want to wait until your cat has chosen to lie down on the floor and stretch themselves out. When you catch them doing that, say ‘play dead’ and give them a treat. Over time, you can add in a hand gesture to get them to do this when they’re sitting or standing and pair it with your verbal command and a treat.

21. Sit on your shoulder

Cat on woman's shoulder

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We know parrots love to sit on shoulders, but do cats? A lot of them do! While you can teach an adult cat this trick, it’s much easier if they’re a kitten. Start by placing your kitty on your shoulder for just a few seconds before popping them back on the ground. Reward them with a treat. Keep repeating this process, increasing the duration until your cat can confidently sit there.

22. Be gentle

Cat licking person's hand

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If your cat has ever taken to your hand like it's a chew toy, then teaching them to be gentle is well worth it. Our favorite way to teach this trick is to smear some treat paste on the back of our hands and knuckles and then say the word ‘gentle’ while our cat licks it off. If your cat tries to bite, simply remove your hand and try again later.

23. Find it

Cat peeking out of drawer

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Looking for ways to be the best cat owner? We love this trick because as well as being fun, it’s a great way to offer your feline friend some mental and physical enrichment. To teach this trick, start by tossing treats where your cat can see them and saying ‘find it’. Once your cat is used to looking for treats in plain sight, you can increase the difficulty level. Get three cups and hide a treat under one of the cups, then say ‘find it’ and see if your cat can locate which cup the treat is hiding under.

24. Teach them to hop in their carrier

Cat in carrier

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One of the worst things about owning a cat is trying to get them to go into their carrier! But there are times this has to be done and if they’ll happily walk into it of their own accord, that will make your life a whole lot easier. The first step is to leave the carrier in a room your cat frequents regularly with all of the doors open. Scatter treats in and around the carrier to encourage your cat to explore it. Let your cat go in and out as they please, praising them and dishing out plenty of treats. After your cat has done this plenty of times, close the door to the carrier with them in it for just a few seconds before opening the door and giving your cat a treat. Slowly increase the duration your cat is inside until they’re comfortable staying in there for longer periods of time.

25. Fist bump

Cat fist bumping man

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Paws down one of the coolest tricks you can teach your kitty is the cat fist bump. Place a treat in a cup and place the cup on the ground. When your cat paws at the cup, mark with a ‘yes!’ and reward them with the treat. Next, repeat this step while holding the cup in your hand. Cover the cup with your hand and when your cat paws at your hand, say ‘yes!’ and reward with a treat. Repeat this without any treat in the cup. Now, once your cat has mastered this, remove the cup altogether and turn your hand into a fist, rewarding your cat when they target your fist with their paw.

26. Speak

Abyssinian cat

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If you have one of the best cats for extroverts, chances are they’re probably already a bit of a chatterbox but this is a great trick to teach quieter cats who you’d like to be more vocal. It’s really easy too, simply hold up a treat or toy and only give it to your kitty once they’ve meowed to ask for it.

27. Navigate an obstacle course

Cat in a box

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If you have one of the best indoor cat breeds, mental and physical enrichment is really important for their health and wellbeing — and what’s more fun than an obstacle course? You can use absolutely anything you have at home to create this, including furniture, boxes, books, containers — the sky’s the limit. Set out the obstacle course in a room your cat enjoys spending time in. Use a lure to encourage your cat to move around the course, focusing on one obstacle at a time. As your cat navigates an obstacle, be sure to reward them before asking them to move on to the next part of the course.

28. Turn off a light switch

Cat investigating light

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Don’t fancy going around the house every night turning off all the light switches? Why not get your cat to do it — provided they can reach them okay, that is! To train your cat to do this, start by encouraging them to investigate the light switch, using lots of praise and treats. Choose a verbal command, like 'lights off', and use it every time you turn the lights off yourself and your cat is watching. Next, you want to gently place your cat’s paw on the light switch, use your verbal cue (lights off) and reward them with a treat. Over time, move your cat’s paw off the light switch and wait for them to press the switch by themselves before giving them a treat. Keep repeating this until your kitty is able to turn the switch on and off without a treat.

29. Jump into your arms

Woman holding cat

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Getting your cat to jump into your arms? How very Dirty Dancing of you! Begin by crouching down and use a clicker and treats to get your cat to jump onto your lap. Once they’re confident doing this, use praise and treats to get them used to having your arms around them. Next up, sit at the end of your bed and practice from there — this is higher up than when you’re crouching and will increase the difficulty for your cat. Finally, stand up and get your cat to jump into your arms.

30. Give you a kiss

Cat kissing man

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Soppy but super sweet! If you have a strong bond with your feline friend, why not teach them to give you a kiss? For this one, crouch down and open your arms, call your cat’s name and when they nudge your face with theirs, reward them with a treat.

31. Leg weaves

Cat weaving between woman's legs

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Stand with your legs apart with one foot in front of the other as if you’re about to take a step. Toss a treat through your legs and gesture for your cat to walk through to get it using the word ‘weave’. Use a second treat and slowly guide your cat around to the front of your leg. Repeat several times. Next, with your cat in front of you, take a step forward and hold a treat on the other side of your leg. Once your cat has passed through your leg you can toss the treat on the floor and take a step forward. Repeat this on the other side and keep practicing until your cat is able to stay in sync with you for multiple steps.

32. Catch

Kitten playing with toy

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This one is a bit like teaching your cat to fetch, but instead of throwing a toy away from them, you want to throw it towards them. We recommend starting with cat treats first and then once your cat has got the hang of catching those in their mouth or using their paws, you can practice using a small soft toy.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.