How to Train Your Cat to Sit

Cat sitting on floor
Teaching your cat to sit on command isn't as hard as it sounds.

Cat training may seem impossible — after all, we love our cats for their independent natures — but your feline is smart, and she can be taught to do all sorts of cool tricks. One of the most useful is learning to sit on command. Teaching your cat to sit — and stay — means she's less likely to be underfoot all the time or in your way when you’re preparing dinner or changing the baby.

And think how impressed your friends will be!

I recommend two methods for teaching your cat to sit: the lure and the clicker.

Using a Lure to Teach a Sit

The first method is to lure the cat into a sit using a soft treat that can be smeared onto a spoon or target stick. Canned cat foods, cream cheese, spreadable cheese, kong spray, meat-based baby food (make sure there's no garlic or onion in it), canned tuna or other soft fish or yogurt can make ideal lickable rewards.

Raise your lure (the spoon with the treat smeared on it) slowly above her face, moving past her nose and toward her forehead. She will follow the lure with her head and will wind up in a sitting position. Once she is sitting, offer a couple of licks and then raise the spoon away.

Reward your cat for following the lure with her nose by marking this movement with a clicker and offering a quick lick of the treat. Eventually, you can begin to build the behavior by waiting until your cat moves her bottom closer to the floor to click. The goal is to get to the point where you are clicking only when your cat’s bottom touches the floor.

Once your cat gets the hang of sitting, it’s time to fade the lure —  take the lure out of training — and replace it with a word or hand signal. To fade the lure, use it to get your cat into a sit but reward her with a loose treat or a lick of treat from a different spoon or bowl. Over time, move to using a clean spoon without a treat to lure your cat to sit while continuing to offer a treat from your hand or a bowl.

You can also replace the lure with a verbal cue or hand signal. One strategy is to lift your hand in a way similar to how you held the lure. Hold a treat in the hand the first couple of times, if needed. You can also start by pairing a hand signal or word, like “sit,”  with the lure. After a number of repetitions of this pairing, your cat will be able to anticipate what she is being asked to do when she hears the cue or sees the signal, and she should begin to respond to that signal rather than to the lure.


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