How to Teach Your Cat to High Five: 4 Tips & Tricks


The high five has become a universal sign of congratulations between two people. Although its exact origin is disputed, many believe that it was first used in 1977 during a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.

Today, it is used as a greeting, a farewell, and a means of celebration. It also looks cute if you can train your dog to do it. It looks incredible if you can have your cat do it, too, and while a lot of people balk at the idea of trying to train a cat to do anything beyond using a litter tray or coming for dinner when the bag is opened, it may be easier than you think to teach this relatively simple trick to your feline friend. Try following these steps:

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The 4 Tips to Teach Your Cat to High Five

1. The Treat

siamese cat sniffing a treat
Image Credit: Lemalisa, Shutterstock

Ideally, your cat should be capable of listening to a command and sitting or standing before you start training them how to do a high five. Start by placing a treat in your hand. Make sure the cat sees the treat before you close your hand around it, and then hold your fist in front of the cat with your palm down.


2. The Paw Raise

Natural inquisitiveness will cause your cat to sniff your hand, and if this doesn’t elicit a response, such as the opening of your hand, most cats will tentatively lift their paw to touch your hand. As soon as their paw leaves the ground, say, “yes,” open your hand, and give them the treat.

Keep this up for a few days until the cat consistently lifts its paw to you. As you progress, wait until the paw gets a little higher before affirming and rewarding. After a few days to a week, your cat should be touching your hand with their paw before being rewarded.


3. The Gesture

Ginger tabby cat high fiving a womans hand
Image Credit: Andrew E Gardner, Shutterstock

Of course, a closed fist doesn’t represent a high five. Once your cat is consistently touching your hand with its paw, start saying, “High five,” as the connection is made. Continue to give the treat as a reward.


4. The High Five

Once your cat is touching your hand every time, you can start to quickly change your hand position from a fist to the open palm high-five gesture. When they touch, reward them and repeat the process. Once your cat is consistently high fiving you, only provide a treat every other time they perform the task, and then only occasionally until they start to better understand the command.divider-cat

Tips

Cats can learn quickly when given the proper stimuli and the right conditions. If you’re struggling to persuade yours to high five, consider the following tips:

Use Appealing Treats

Using a plain cat biscuit that your cat can get from their food bowl whenever they want likely won’t provide enough of a reward. Buy special treats that are really appealing, but do make sure that they aren’t unhealthy or too fattening. If you are completing the reward several times a day, you may want to break the treat down.

Remove Distractions

Cats are inquisitive. Not only will yours be interested in what you have in your hand, but it could be interested in what’s happening behind you, behind them, on the TV, or in another room. Choose a time when the kids are quiet, your other pets are out or asleep, and when there are generally as few distractions as possible.

Don’t Get Carried Away

Cats are also easily distracted even once they start a task, and they can get bored of repetitive tasks pretty easily. If your cat gets bored after 5 minutes, don’t force the issue—just put the treats away, holster your high five, and come back again tomorrow.

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Conclusion

Although we typically think of dogs as being the pets that are easiest to train, it is possible to train cats to perform some tricks and tasks. The high five is relatively easy to train, and it is impactful. It’s fun to teach, fun to learn, and fun to watch.

Using the steps above, and reinforcing these with the tips provided, it is possible to teach the high five in a few days, although it could take you and your cat a couple of weeks, depending on several factors.


Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock



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