Raising the bar: Cat training made simple!

Check out this video oDSC_0027f my cat, Cecilia, learning how to jump over a bar. Training cats (or any animal for that matter) is extremely simple!  I used principles of positive reinforcement to train this behavior. The behavior was trained in approximately 15 short sessions (lasting 5 minutes or less). Below is a list of terms used in the video. Cecilia also knows how to sit, stand on her back legs, follow a target, give me a high-paw (high 5!)… and more in progress! Feel free to ask any questions!

Raising the bar: Teaching a cat to jump over a bar using operant conditioning 

Terms used
Operant conditioning: Learning through consequences (I jump the bar, I get a reward)
Positive reinforcement: Adding something to the environment (positive- in this case food & praise used as reinforcers) to increase a behavior (reinforcement).
Clicker: A conditioned reinforcer (conditioned= classically associated with reinforcers before training).
Hand cue: A conditioned stimulus that Cecilia knows to target.
FR 1: Fixed Ratio 1, for every 1 bar jumping behavior she receives 1 reinforcer
VR 5: Variable Ratio 5, she receives 1 reinforcer an average of every 5 times she performs the behavior (better for maintaining a behavior).


  1. This is really cool and I’m glad you are documenting this kind of stuff. yay cecilia!

    1. Marc-André says:

      Agree. This is amazing :0!

  2. loisajay says:

    who knew?? I figured I would be the one jumping, while my cats passed me treats!

    1. maueyes says:

      Haha, I know! 🙂

      Have you ever seen the Russian cat circus? They train cats to do all sorts of behaviors using the same principles! You can watch a clip here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ODKNlhVW_GU

      1. loisajay says:

        this was so awesome! I liked the ball. No, the bars. No, the double bars…oh my gosh! Too much fun.

  3. Mei-Mei says:

    I totally want to try clicker training with my cats! What kind of reward did you use to originally prime the clicker? My one cat is very food motivated–any suggestions for a good kind of treat to use?

    1. maueyes says:

      Hey Molly! You definitely should start training your kitties! It is so much fun for the cats… and you! I use a lot of different foods as reinforces including small pieces of a summer sausage, cheese, lunch turkey and tuna. I also use these fish treats by Honest Kitchen and liver treats by Primal. I most often use small pieces of the lunch turkey to work with Cecilia and that is what I primed the clicker with. Let me know if you start working with them and if you have any other questions!

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