Interested in cat training? Did you book a clicker training package with Class Act Cats and want to get some supplies to make training easier? It can be helpful to have a variety of tools assembled to help ensure the greatest chance of success in your cat’s training! Below are what I use as a professional cat trainer and a few links to easily order them. There are many other styles and choices out there besides these so if you find something else that works you’re certainly not limited to these choices.
Required Cat Training Supplies
We can generally divide most supplies needed for cat training into ones that are necessary and ones that are nice to have. Let’s start out focusing on the ones that are necessary and then move on to the optional ones.
I’m a big fan of clicker training cats. These are used to produce The Click which your cat will quickly learn to love during training. You will want at least one clicker, but you may want or need additional clickers. My favorite clicker is the Clicino clicker ring. It’s quiet for cats and because you wear it on your finger, it frees up one of your hands. They make training so much easier!
My favorite variety of regular clickers comes in a 7-pack and produces a click that’s loud enough for many cats to tolerate, but not as loud as metal clickers. These are a great budget choice and the option I’d go with if you a clicker you hold as opposed to one your wear.
I suggest having a few clickers in different places so members of your household can each have their own clickers for training or reinforcing behaviors you want your cat to keep doing. It’s a good idea to make sure the clickers make the same (or extremely close to the same) sound so your cat understands what the click means more easily and for consistency across training sessions. Plus, if you lose a clicker you have a spare sitting around.
Want a clicker that’s easily accessible during training but don’t want to go the Clicino route? Consider one that will strap onto your finger. It makes it easy to use a few tools at once and quickly dispense whichever reinforcer you use for training.
Reinforcers are the things we use to get cats to do a behavior that we want. Chances are the first thing that comes to mind is treats which is what we use most of the time. However, cat training can be accomplished using other reinforcers for cats that we can’t or want to avoid treats in.
The key for a reinforcer to work is that your cat needs to love it. For treats, it should be a flavor and texture your cat likes. If they’re kind of so-so about it, you need to use something different. If you haven’t found a treat your cat likes, try Churu. Churu is a meat goop that cats go Gwen Stefani level B-A-N-A-N-A-S for.
Thinking outside the box a bit, some cats prefer baby food that is pure meat. You can also consider tuna, a tiny piece of a basic cheese (think mozzarella or cheddar, not one of the fancy cheeses), Easy Cheese, or even a lick of butter. Don’t go overboard with these and always check with your vet if you’re not sure or your cat has a special diet.
For cats that aren’t as food motivated (notice how I didn’t say they aren’t food motivated as all animals need to be somewhat food motivated), you can consider something else. If your cat likes brushing, being petted, praise, or play, you can use those to reinforce them. A favorite toy can be reserved for training sessions specifically. At the end of the day, there are a lot of options that can be used.
A Storage Container
This could be a variety of vessels depending on what your space allows or what you have on hand. You could get a dedicated container with a lid or a basket with cats on it to keep your supplies in. You can also choose a bag with a cat on it (or maybe one shaped like a cat) so that it’s portable wherever you and your cats go. Cat training can happen anywhere so you never know where you’ll need to bring your kit!
A drawer in a dresser, your kitchen, or somewhere else easily accessible is an option for where to keep your supplies if you aren’t concerned about moving them, though I do suggest they are somehow kept in a dedicated container. You want to make sure that you keep your toolkit somewhere that can be closed and your cat can’t easily get into it. Ideally, it should not be used for other things so your cat associates you opening it with training beginning and closing it with your session ending.
Optional Cat Training Supplies
Really those three are the things that you absolutely need. The rest of these are a really, really good idea, but aren’t required. Some of them may have an alternative option or they may just make training easier. Regardless, you may choose some of these but not others and still be okay.
For training a variety of different behaviors, it’s helpful to have either a fixed target stick or an extendable target stick. Targeting is usually the first behavior I have clients teach their cats as it’s pretty easy and a great way to practice the basics of clicker training. Plus I think it’s adorable to train your cat to boop the target!
If you want to combine two tools into one, there are target sticks that have a built-in clicker. These are great for ease of training, but you may also want to get a separate clicker if you go with a combo product. That way, if you need to keep a clicker in a pocket, it’s easier to carry with you.
This one is more for ease for you when you’re doing training sessions with your cat. A treat bag you can wear or attach to yourself makes it easier to get rewards for your cat when training. I prefer ones that you can reach into the pouch and pull out a treat without having to open anything as it makes less noise. This is less distracting to the cat.
Alternatively, silicone pouches are easy to clean. This makes them a better option if you are using pieces of meat as a reinforcer for your cat. Many have a magnetic clip that makes it easy to open and shut so accessing the treats is easy. If you’re feeling extra cute, there are even penguin-shaped silicone pouches. Okay, okay… technically they’re for coins, but you can use them for treats.
And let’s not forget the ultimate treat pouch plus a potential cat training storage device: the fanny pack. You will be the coolest cat trainer on the block with your fanny pack treat pouch! If you want to be extra cool, get one with cats on it or a sequined one shaped like a cat.
If your cat is motivated by play, you’ll want to have some toys in your cat training toolbox. Not just any toys, however. You want to have some toys that your cat LOVES and are reserved only for training sessions. This makes the toy extra special for the cat so it helps make the training more effective. During your intake session with Class Act Cats, we’ll help figure out what type of toy may be best to keep in your toolbox if we decide to use play to reinforce your cat.
Keep in mind that for training sessions, you’ll need to control how your cat gets the toy in order for it to work. I suggest focusing on wand toys rather than smaller solo play toys. I also advise against laser toys as they can be frustrating for cats so may not be an effective reinforcer.
Behavior Specific Tools
This category is a broad one that encompasses a lot of different things that you may need for training a specific behavior. For example, if you want to train your cat to sit in a particular location, you may want to get some small mats to use or a towel. If you want them to do agility (which you absolutely can train a cat to do), consider something for them to leap over. For pattern games we might be playing, a set of cat dishes is a good idea.
Cat training can take a lot of different forms. The exact supplies you need for a specific behavior you want to teach could be almost anything so use your imagination!
Can training is complex so you may find other supplies are helpful as you go. I suggest tracking progress which you could do in a spreadsheet, on your phone, or go old school in a (cat print) notebook. A phone with a video camera can help, especially if you’re working with me as I often rely on video review to help improve your cat training skills. It’s also helpful for you to go back and see where you could improve.
How To Learn To Train Cats
This last section isn’t really a supply, but it’s just as important as anything else in this list. While it’s a bit beyond the scope of this blog, you don’t just want to leap in attempting to do any old training method out there or you won’t see results. If you’re looking for somewhere to start learning about cat training, check out an interview I did with Insider for some basic tips.
The way I recommend learning is from a professional cat trainer like myself. Oh, don’t act so surprised that this is my top recommendation! It’s true as you’ll get personalized lessons and recommendations tailored to your cat and your needs.
If you’d rather start elsewhere, you can get a clicker training kit that contains basic supplies and a guide on clicker training. This is a great introduction to cat training, but won’t go in depth. There are also some great books out there like The Trainable Cat, but they require separate purchases of supplies and don’t give personalized advice.
At the end of the day, there are tons of tools out there that may be used for cat training. It depends on your goals and what your cat needs. These suggestions are a good starting place and your toolbox can always be added to as you and your cat figure out what works for you.