CLICK FAQs

What is clicker training?
How can other shelters get involved?
How can I adopt a CLICK cat?
How does clicker training help shelter cats?
What food rewards do you use?
What if the cat is scared of the clicker?
What if the cat is too scared to be trained?
How can I train my own cat?
Do you offer clicker training classes?
How old does a cat have to be to be clicker trained?
How can I donate to CLICK?


  1. What is clicker training?

    Clicker training is a fun, positive and humane method of training that's been used for decades with marine mammals and other working animals. It's often used with zoo animals that need to learn to accept human handling. And in the past several years, it's become a common method used for training companion animals, especially dogs, but also cats, horses, birds, etc. A version of it called TAGTeach is even used with humans.

    Clicker training involves the use of a specific sound IMMEDIATELY as the animal performs a desired behavior. The "clicking" sound can come from a clicker sold in pet stores specifically for this purpose, from the sound of a push pen, or simply from a click of your tongue.

    The idea behind clicker training is that the click serves as a "bridge" between the desired behavior and the animal's reward (after clicking, you'll give your pet a food treat or some other highly motivating reward). So the order of go is: (1) The desired behavior occurs, (2) you click and (3) you give the animal a reward. Another way to think of it is as a camera: The click is similar to your taking a snapshot of the correct behavior just as it's performed.

    The reason for having a bridge (also called an event marker) is so that we can communicate precisely with the animal.

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  2. How can other shelters get involved?

    CLICK is working on developing protocols that other shelters can implement, recognizing that most shelters have limited time and resources. We are just beginning a pilot research project using a few chosen shelters across the country, so it may take until 2016 or later before we're ready to distribute the protocols. If you'd like to be on the distribution list, please contact us.


  3. How can I adopt a CLICK cat?

    CLICK cats are available for adoption through the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic. Typically, if a cat is housed at CLICK, we ask the adopter to wait until the weekend to take them home so we can continue working with them that week and their learning can be part of our research. However, we will never impede an adoption, since a forever home is the ultimate reward for our cats!

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  4. How does clicker training help shelter cats?

    We suspect that clicker training can provide many benefits to shelter cats, including:

    1. mental stimulation/enrichment
    2. decreased stress
    3. improved health (if stress is decreased)
    4. positive interactions with people
    5. easier handling
    6. a shorter shelter stay

  5. What food rewards do you use?

    At CLICK, we usually use the canned food (some prefer dry food) from the cats' normal diets. This helps prevent obesity and GI problems, and doesn't add cost to the training. Occasionally, however, there is a cat that seems to work only for treats, in which case we often use small amounts of meat baby food. Also we may find the rare cat that prefers to work for petting or play.

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  6. What if the cat is scared of the clicker?

    Some shy, fearful or noise-sensitive cats may be afraid of the clicker. We evaluate this on the first day and as we proceed. If scared of the clicker noise, we can use a word ("good") or a tongue click. Sometimes, as they progress, we can try the clicker again and we'll find it no longer scares them.


  7. What if the cat is too scared to be trained?

    Many shelter cats are shy and fearful. We never force training on a cat; we go at the cat's pace. In these cases, we may simply let them settle in for a few days, use desensitization and counterconditioning, and/or do simple clicker training from a distance (for example, click and offer food when the cat blinks or when he looks at the trainer), and walk away immediately after providing the food.

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  8. How can I train my own cat?

    One of our goals is to develop video tutorials so those at home can clicker train their own cats. We also offer introductory clicker training classes that you can attend if you live in the Fort Collins, CO, area. If not, check your local shelters to see if they offer such classes. And in the meantime, we recommend reviewing information on www.clickertraining.com.


  9. Do you offer clicker training classes?

    We currently offer monthly introductory classes, and in the future we hope to provide kitten kindergarten classes too.

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  10. How old does a cat have to be to be clicker trained?

    Cats can start training even as small kittens. And there is no age limit to learning, either, so if you have a geriatric cat, go ahead and start training! You'll keep that brain active (remember the saying, "Use it or lose it!").


  11. How can I donate to CLICK?

    We are currently lucky enough to be supported by a private donor. If you'd like to help, we recommend donating to the Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic, whose cats we work with, or to another animal organization of your choice.

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