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Your cat can do WHAT?


The cat: independent, strong-willed, often aloof. Not exactly training material, right?

Herding Cats in Hollywood

Samantha Martin has been training animals for commercials and films for 15 years. Based in the Chicago area, she has crawled through the subway stations of New York, demonstrated trained rats in Rome for national television, and trained chickens to crow, cluck, flap wings, and hover over chicks on cue for an award-winning documentary. Her raccoon shoots baskets, her groundhog raises a flag, and her duck plays a guitar and drums. And then she has cats—20 of them—which she trains for films and commercials. The Rockcats, starring Dakota, Pinky, Waldo, Tuna, and Nue, take turns playing drums, guitar, and piano. Recently we talked to Samantha about her career and her success with clicker training.

Kudos for Clicker Training for Cats

I work on clicker training with our dogs and horses. Pretty new at it but having fun and telling lots of people about it.

My 14-year old daughter has taught her kitten to play the piano, moonwalk, weave in and out of poles, climb a ladder, and he is now learning to ride a skateboard! they are becoming the fast friends she'd hoped - and more.

Teaching an Old Cat New Tricks

My wife and I have a eight-year-old cat named Phoebus, whom she rescued as a kitten. When she found him, he was one week away from being put to sleep by the local shelter; his mother had leukemia, and of his entire litter, only he had survived. He's a great cat, with a firm but sweet disposition, and, until recently, he had never been clicker trained. He did all the normal things you want a cat to do—use a litter box, hunt mice, play, purr—but he also did some of the normal things you don't want a cat to do.

The Training Game Q & A

Q: I've gotten my niece onto clicker training with her family cat. I told her about the training game and we tried it out on each other a few times, although I may not be remembering all of the rules. My niece has been doing the training game with her sister, but I gather they do it more like the game Hot & Cold. She (as trainer) became angry with me (as animal) when I moved too fast and wouldn't move my arms (she wanted me to flap my arms). I tried to explain successive approximation and told her that *I* have much trouble with my timing of the clicks and thinking of ways to reinforce Cica (my cat) to get her to do a certain behavior. She thought I wasn't playing fair. She also didn't understand my saying that it's not up to the "animal" to figure out and guess what the trainer wants. Can you tell us more about the rules of this game? I love having a way to talk with my cat.