You Can Teach An Old Cat New Tricks

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You can teach an old cat new tricks
13th November 2017

By Lloyd Lugsden
Scientists now believe cats can be trained – even older ones.
 
A study by Colorado State University looked at 100 shelter cats that were going through ‘clicker training’, reported the Metro. This is a method based on behavioural psychology that involves teaching a pet simple tasks such as touching something when a clicker is pressed, before being rewarded with a treat.
 
Each cat was made to complete four behaviours (touching a target, sitting, spinning and high-fiving), before completing 15 five-minute training sessions over a two-week period. At the end of the fortnight, the cats performed the four behaviours again – and, on average, they all did better after the clicker training, ‘suggesting that the cats could learn to perform specific behaviours on cue’.
 
Regardless of sex, age or shyness, 79% of the cats learned the ability to touch a target, 27% learned sitting, 60% spinning and 31% learned ‘high-fiving’.
 
“A cat’s age and sex did not have any effect on successful learning, but increased food motivation was correlated with greater gains in learning for two of the cued behaviours: high-five and targeting,” the study concluded.