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My Cat Loves To Fetch

blue-burmese-cat-fetching-toyIt is a long standing tradition for many people to teach their dogs to fetch. But, what if you are a cat lover? Can your cat be taught to fetch as well? You bet! In some cases, your cat may surprise you and teach itself this little game.

Playful cats that love to run and jump and play and pounce on objects are ideal candidates for fetching practice. The chances for best results come from items that you would often otherwise throw in the garbage. If this sounds weird, trust me. I have had cats all of my life and have spoiled each of them with more toys than I even had when I was a child. Inevitably, they always go for the garbage like aluminum foil balls, caps from bottles and the plastic rings that you remove from gallon jugs of milk . Basically, anything that makes an appealing noise when it hits or bounces or rolls on the floor. Especially if it rolls in odd and unpredictable directions.

Being a writer, a popular item around my home is wadded up scrap paper. One of my five cats actually will run to me from another room when he hears me wadding up another piece. He is ready and wide-eyed waiting for me to throw it so he can run and bring it back to me. An unfortunate, but adorable side effect of his interest is that if he knows I have thrown a wad of paper away, he will dig it out and play with it. A word of advice, if your cat is as enthusiastic as he is, be sure to hide the toys at night or he/she will stay up until all hours playing and costing you sleep.

I also have the fortune to have two fetching kitties in my household. One was taught when she was a kitten and the same male who enjoys paper wads learned from watching his mother. The third of the younger cats tend to have the typical holier than though attitude and upon my throwing something for him to fetch, looks at me as if to say, “Well, you idiot, you threw it, you go get it”.

"Cats are blissfully unaware that they have only a finite time in which to finish their ‘to do’ list." - Jon Edgell

“Cats are blissfully unaware that they have only a finite time in which to finish their ‘to do’ list.”
– Jon Edgell

Some cats will bring the toy back to you in their mouths, while others will play with it and bat it around for a while, then swat it back in your direction. The key is getting them to realize that if they return the item to you, then they will get to chase it again. In some cases you may need to repeat the process over and over for a few days. In other cases, such as my two cats, they learned within a couple of hours.

An important point to remember is do not throw the toy directly to your cat. He/she will likely look at you like you are crazy because the feline instinct is to chase things that run away. No potential cat prey ever ran straight toward the cat’s awaiting paws. Get down on the floor with your kitty and gently toss the toy a few feet away and tell him/her to bring it to you. Often the first couple of times your cat swats it back to you it is accidental, but eventually this may become part of their game. Either way, when it is returned to you give your kitty lots of praise or a treat. As kitty learns the game, gradually throw the item further and further away. If your cat shows interest, you will likely have a fetcher before too long.

A final word of caution, don’t become the trainee. If you continue to go and get the toy yourself, your cat has just trained you. Better to end the fetching practice and try again another time.

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