How to Train Your Cat to Retrieve the Toy That Is Thrown by You


Cats can be taught to retrieve items, such as paper-balls and catnip toys. Some moggies and indeed a few pedigree breeds, such as Orientals and Siamese, show an innate predisposition to retrieve without any form of training.

Training objective: To retrieve the toy that is thrown by the owner.

Equipment: A small flat-shaped toy (preferably without a squeak).

Training steps

Training Session I

  • Instruct your cat to sit and stay.
  • Place the toy in front of your cat. He will probably lean forward to sniff it, especially if you have smeared it with something tasty, such as freshly cooked chicken juice. As soon as you see him show an interest in the toy, praise him and give him a treat.

How to Train Your Cat to Retrieve the Toy That Is Thrown by You  Cat to Retrieve1

  • If your cat has not moved away, encourage him to put his head forward again to sniff the toy. As soon as he has done this, encourage his efforts with more praise and another treat.
  • If your cat has moved away after the first attempt, bring him back to you, instruct him to sit and encourage him to sniff the object. Reinforce again with praise and food treats. This part of training should take approximately a week, with training sessions built into the day on a regular basis.

Training Session II

  • As soon as the cat has learnt that sniffing the toy results in a treat, the routine will need to be changed to encourage him to sniff without receiving his reward. This is done by smearing the toy with his favourite food.
  • As soon as your cat puts his mouth over the toy or stick, say the words “Pick it up”, so that he will associate the words with picking up the toy or stick. When this step is complete, praise him and offer him his food reward.
  • Repeat Step 2 on a regular basis.

Training Session III

As soon as your cat has mastered placing the toy in his mouth, smother it again with his favourite food and throw it a few inches away from your cat. Say the words “Pick it up”. He will be drawn to the toy by its smell and will attempt to put his mouth around it again. When he does this, praise him and offer him more food rewards. Repeat this step on a regular basis as well.

Training Session IV

When it is clear that Step 8 has been mastered, throw the toy and say the words “Pick it up”. When he does this, praise him well. The idea is to get him used to the idea of picking up the object without receiving his food reward. When this part of the training session is complete, there is only one more stage to complete.

Training Session V

  • To complete this trick, call your cat by his name to return to you when he has the toy in his mouth.
  • As soon as he completes this action, remove the toy from him, praise him and reward him with his favourite food treats.
  • Repeat Steps 1 – 2 on a regular basis, throughout the day, over a period of at least a week. On average, it takes four to five weeks to train your cat to carry out this trick. The key is to follow the training steps on a regular pattern, throughout the day, over a period of at least a week for each session.
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About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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