How to Teach Your Cat to Play Fetch

You can train your cat to play fetch—really.
You can train your cat to play fetch—really. /

Unlike the (sometimes) obedient canine, cats are independent creatures that do what they want, when they want. Case in point: Even though most cats probably know their names (according to new research out of Japan), there’s a good chance little Fluffy or Felix will ignore you when you call them.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that cats can be trained to play fetch, according to Mashable. “If you do it right, they'll probably even enjoy it,” claims culture writer Chloe Bryan, whose childhood cat, Salem, enjoyed retrieving crumpled up napkins.

Before you roll out the cat training classes, you’ll need to get your hands on a bag of treats and a training clicker (which can be ordered on Amazon for under $5). Each time your cat gets near the object you want them to retrieve, click the clicker and give your fur baby a treat.

Once they’ve learned the rules of the game, start limiting the clicking (and subsequent treats) to the times when they actually pick up the object. The final stage is to only dish out treats when they bring the object back to you. It’s a classic positive reinforcement method that will shape their behavior over time, according to Dr. Andrea Tu, a medical director and resident in animal behavior at Behavior Vets in New York City, who spoke with Mashable. Tu also recommends limiting training sessions to five minutes, and breaking them up with playtime.

It might even be easier than you think. "Biologically, cats are inclined to pick things up by their mouths and bring them to you," Tu says.

Now if only you could train your cat to use the toilet

[h/t Mashable]