Can your cat handle new situations calmly, and enjoy investigating new things? Are new people interesting to your cat? Your agility cat should be interested in agility, love running, jumping, and climbing, and generally be interactive with the people and objects in its environment. Shy cats may enjoy playing at home, but may be limited in their ability to have fun and enjoy agility at big, noisy shows. When you cat's tail is up, in what we call the "happy cat" position, it is ready to learn or do an agility course.
In order to negotiate the obstacles on an agility course, a cat needs good overall health, stamina, conditioned lean weight, and an energetic outlook on life. Have your cat checked by a veterinarian and make sure it is physically up to agility, free from any malady or structure flaw that will interfere with its ability to run or negotiate obstacles. You and your cat can have fun if you're both healthy and interested in agility, even if reaching super stardom isn't reachable because of your cat's age, overweight, or conformation. For a free downloadable structure presentation, click here.
Once you've determined your cat has the right personality and physical condition for agility, there are several methods for training.
Lure with a toy
Double-tap with a toy or your hand
When training, you can lift your cat over, under or however you want it to interact with the obstacle, so they know. Be patient, and find the joy in working together and building a closer relationship with your cat. The cats having the most fun are probably going to be the ones who do the best.
The primary motivators for dogs is food, but for cats, it is play. Play with your cats, run them around the house, and if they do something well, reward them with praise, or a very small tidbit of food, but mostly praise and love. Cats running an agility course also need to be focused, paying attention to their handler, alert and responsive. Praise and love at home will keep up the focus level in the agility ring. Lure with a toy, or double-tap with a stick to indicate where to go, or use your hand to guide them. Clicker-training to follow a target stick is very effective. An excellent cat treat to use when training is the Ciao lick treat tubes because they are clean and easy to use, plus cats love them.
ICAT agility competitions are for cats 4 months of age or older, when they have reached the equivalent of their young teenage years. Cats will age 10 years equivalent in the first six months of their life. In the next six months, they will age 5 more years, bringing the total number of "cat years" to 15 in their first year of life. After this initial age spurt, you can expect your cat to age four years for every year of its life. So if your cat is three years old in "people years," it is 23 years old in "cat years." Old age can affect the mental sharpness of cats, the same as with people.
Is your cat ready for agility?