Agility — It’s Not Just For Dogs

CatThink your cat can do the weave better than the dogs you see on TV? Is your cat the ultimate jumper? Well, your cat may be perfect for an agility contest. No, it’s not just for dogs these days.

Cat shows around the world are showcasing cat agility contests and the popularity is rapidly increasing. Cats go through tunnels, jump, and weave through poles. The best of the best can do the course in about ten seconds, while others who like to take it leisurely take about several minutes.

Vickie Shields, who founded International Cat Agility Tournaments with three of her friends, said, “Cats are very smart and very trainable, but they’re not dogs. They don’t take orders. They will do things you want them to for praise and for fun — and if they want to do it.”

Shields said most people use clicker training and toys on sticks as indicators of where to go next.

She added, “This whole thing about cats being untrainable is ingrained in society, and it’s a myth. Agility is all about showing how smart and trainable they are, the bond between cat and owner, and showing the cats in active, athletic ways that you don’t see when they’re posed and judged at shows. You can get chills watching the speed and coordination of some of these cats.”

Just like with any animal, the range of what the cats do or more so, want to do varies. Some will get in there and finish the course quickly. Others will simply decide that they just aren’t going to do it or they get distracted in the middle and start doing something else.

One cat breeder said, “And the Persians would stop after a few seconds and lie around looking pretty.”

Any kind of cat, not just bluebloods, can participate in cat agility contests. So cats around the world including house cats, shelter cats, three-legged cats, and even a blind cat have joined in on the fun.

Here’s a video of a cat in action:

Source: USA Today

(Thanks Marie)

6 Responses to “Agility — It’s Not Just For Dogs”

  1. furmom says:

    I should think the I.U.C. (International Union of Cats) would be picketing these events because they might give humans the idea that they can train a cat. Suddenly cats everywhere will have to interupt their naps to re-educate their human attempting to run them through some agility exercises.

  2. kyawasmom says:

    I agree with fumom.

    Just what we don’t need is another animal “contest. I am against both cat and dog shows. There should be a law against them.

  3. Don Earl says:

    Cats don’t do tricks. They do comedy routines to make their owners smile (assuming the owner is held in high regard by the cat).

    Since the cat’s participation on something like this is completely voluntary on the part of the cat, I can’t imagine why the animal rights types would be against it.

    Dogs can be scolded into doing tricks, but cats won’t tolerate that kind of treatment. As the article points out, cats will do things because they think it’s fun (funny), and if they want to. They can also be influenced by bribery (sometimes).

    There isn’t any way other than an extraordinarily well loved and well treated cat could be competitive in this kind of event. I’d lean toward the idea that any program that encourages that kind of bond is a good thing.

    My cats were born feral. Early on, I found the easiest way to get them to interact with me was through play. It took a certain amount of creativity on my part to think up different games they didn’t get bored with, and found interesting enough to take part in. After awhile, they’d think up their own games and invite me to play. I’ll never enter them in a show. They’re too shy around strangers to go along with anything like that. But, we do have fun, even though it’s been a long time since they were kittens. They have their little comedy routines and they always make me smile.

  4. Dorene says:

    I don’t know — I had a black Persian in the 80s and 90s that was an amazing athlete — she loved to play and she never gave up — we tired out before she did. I think she would have LOVED something like this — a chance to really stretch and show what she could do. I kept a roll of carpet that went from the floor to the ceiling because she loved to run up it and then leap off mid-way and capture a catnip mouse. I think she would have enjoyed the challege

  5. Diane says:

    One of my cats loves jumping from cat tree to cat tree. As long as she feels like it (and she can see the cat treats–she’s no fool), she doesn’t mind at all. Sometimes it’s hard to get her to stop performing!

  6. Nell Liquorman says:

    My 3 cats (two of them were feral kittens) are very well trained and behave loverly, staying off the furniture, etc. They play “hockey” on the hard surfaces of the bathroom and kitchen floors with a wheel that I took off a plastic toy. it is flat on one side and slides rapidly. They carry it from room to room. They taught themselves and usually enjoy a game when the lights go out at night. They also run and play up and down the stairwell. But if I tried to get them to run a agility course, they would give me the look. You know the ones that tell you what you can kiss.
    They will play with me, but only on their terms. Mostly, they seem to prefer that I watch.

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