The new Standard Course design was tested at the Paris Animal Show in January. All obstacles worked very well, except catwalk number 2 was too easy. If you can think of a fun obstacle to use instead, please email your idea, and we can maybe try it at the next show. We might even name it after you if it's successful!
Some interesting observations from the Paris show:
1. Cats prefer to run clockwise, not counterclockwise. So the direction of the course will be reversed.
Last week, someone asked me if cats prefer the other direction in the Southern Hemisphere.
I will ask our Australian agility friends. :-)
2. People prefer to start at an end, not in the middle of a long side, even when the entry is on the long side.
3. The mirror jump was easier than I thought for the cats. When exploring and practicing, they looked down at the mirror, decided it was okay, then jumped. I was wondering if the mirror would create a challenging "visual cliff" experience. Visual cliff is the reason cows do not cross cattle crossings, not because their feet won't fit on the bars.
4. This is a two-tent course, so I reduced the number of obstacles to eight, instead of 10. It is too crowded with 10 for the people.
5. As usual, formal clicker training wasn't done. It is a distracting environment.Since cats love agility so much, the best way seems to use a toy to get them moving, help them over obstacles at first if needed, and then take them around again and again. It is easy to see the moment a cat understands the idea of an agility course, and then goes as fast as he can, to keep up with the owner.
We expect a lot of intelligence from our cats, doing the training and timed runs on the same day!
6. There are cats who just want to walk around, or sit on the bubble jump and observe activity outside the tent. As always, there is no pressure for a cat to perform. The agility ring is a Kindergarten for these cats.
Photos and videos of Paris 2017 are posted.
1-2 Easy jumpsy, to build confidence and get the cat in motion.
3 Jump over a mirror, for visual distraction, and to test the concentration of the cat, confidence in the owner, and willingness to try a new experience
4 Tunnel, which requires concentration and motivation, and the cat can gain speed
5 Catwalk. The cat must pass through the three sets of cones. Requires use of the confidence of the previous elevated walkway, and experimenting with a new texture under the feet.
6 Arc jump.
7 Bubble jump, giving the cat a new texture and movement experience, and another type of obstacle. The cat must pass through the central cones. Requires balance, confidence
8 Triple high, needs strength, speed and endurance at the end of the course