How To Train a Cat to Ring a Bell (Watch Adopters Line Up!)
A cat ringing a bell may seem like a silly trick, but it might just help the bell-ringing kitty find a home!
Here are four easy steps to teach cats to ring bells, and hopefully make beautiful music with enthralled adopters.
Pair a sound like a verbal “yes” or a clicker made especially for cats (some clickers can be too loud for up-close training) with a food reward.
Put your hand in front of the cat. As soon as the cat moves a paw towards your hand, make the sound and immediately give him a treat. Remember, kitties have trouble seeing right in front of their noses, so to make the association happen quickly, be sure to present the food to the side of the cat’s mouth or drop it on the cage floor.
Reward approximations (any movement towards your hand with a paw). Start requiring that the cat touch your hand to get the treat – it won’t take long for him to realize this is the behavior you want!
Place the bell after the cat is reliably touching your hand. Use an easily ringable, soft-toned bell and reward any touch to the surface of the bell. Repeat until the behavior is stable, which should take one or two sessions of four to eight touches.
Place the ringer of the bell so the paw is likely to touch the ringer. Reward for the slightest ring. Repeat, shaping stronger rings by waiting for a stronger touch before reward.
Watch adoption applications pour in. Be sure to feature trained cats on your social media and highlight ones who have been there longest to help them get noticed!