Teach A Cat to Jump and to Twirl

So far my posts this week have focused on obedience commands. Now I’d like to introduce two tricks. Everything I’ve covered to date comes from Cat Training in Ten Minutes by Miriam Fields-Babineau, a book that has offers a lot of information about having fun with your feline, including how to take cats for walks.

Teaching a Cat to TWIRL

Teaching a cat to TWIRL has been a mixed experience for me. I have had about a 50% success rate with two of my cats. If it works, however, the trick can be great fun. Cats can learn to twirl both left and right, multiple times, or even weave under your legs. 

  • Have your cat SIT.
  • Show him a treat and bring the treat from his nose to his tail.
  • Tell your cat to TWIRL.
  • As he brings his head around to touch the treat, praise and treat.
  • Each time you repeat these steps, have your cat turn a little more until he turns a complete circle.
  • After your cat is adept at twirling one circle, have him TWIRL a second.
  • If he gets confused, stop and return to just one circle.
  • Once your cat can master two circles, add more circles, each time increasing the number to be completed before giving a treat.

Lucy struggled with this trick. I don’t know why. Did I simply not understand how to teach it? Or did she not grasp the concept of turning, turning, and turning until a circle has been complete. At any rate, TWIRL was always hit and miss with her. On the days she got it, I praised and treated her as if she had taken her first baby steps. What an exciting accomplishment to learn a trick.

CatTwirlIn contrast, Cinder found this trick as easy to perform as our dog did. The first time I brought the treat from her nose to her tail, she turned a complete circle. Within the week, she could twirl left and right and multiple times. So we immediately progressed onto other challenges.

After a dubious start with SIT, I decided to try something that seemed to come more naturally for Bootsie. The moment I walk into our library to visit Bootsie, she turns this way and that for attention. By adding a treat to her routine behavior, I was able to quickly teach her to TWIRL.

In all of these commands that I’ve covered, you should make your own judgment call about which one to start with and which ones to delay. Some need to come before others. SIT should come before both SIT UP and STAY. Otherwise, start with the one most guaranteed to bring success to make both you and your cat proud.

Teaching a Cat to JUMP

CinderJumpTeaching a cat to JUMP has been one of my favorite experiences, with a 100% success rate for two of my cats. (I haven’t tried this command yet with Bootsie.) No doubt this is because jumping comes naturally to our felines. As with TWIRL, variety can be added. Once a cat obeys the command to JUMP, you can have the cat jump from chair to chair or through a hoop. It might even be how you teach your cat to JUMP into your lap!

  • With the cat on the floor, show her a treat and guide her to a chair.
  • When she arrives at the chair, praise and reward with a treat.
  • Next time, move the treat halfway up the chair and praise your cat as she reaches for the treat.
  • Gradually, increase the distance until she touches the seat of the chair.
  • Place the treat in the middle of the chair, touch it, and say JUMP.
  • As soon as your cat jumps on the chair, praise her and let her eat the treat.
  • The next time you ask your cat to jump on the chair, simply touch the treat to the chair and ask her to JUMP.

Cat obedience isn’t a science. This means we can all learn from each other. What stories do you have about teaching your cat? What web sites and/or books have you used? Please share and help our pet community grow in its knowledge!


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