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Do Cats Play Fetch? Trainable Breeds & Useful Tips

Written by: Sophie Jeffares

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

domestic cat playing fetch

Do Cats Play Fetch? Trainable Breeds & Useful Tips

Fetch has long been associated with dogs. This active game is so pleasing to dogs, as they’ve spent centuries domesticated to work with and for humans, many for retrieving purposes.

Cats have also been domesticated for a long time, not as workers like dogs but as companions. So, can cats be trained to play the same games as dogs, like fetch?

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Do Cats Play Fetch?

Yes, cats can be trained to play fetch just like dogs. The game is slightly different for them, but the concept is the same. You’ll need to have a lot of patience and use positive reinforcement techniques, but it is possible to teach your cat to fetch.

blue russian cat running in nature
Image by: ddisq, Shutterstock

How to Teach Your Cat to Play Fetch

Before you start, it’s important to understand how fetch works for dogs. Dogs are natural retrievers, and they love to please their owners. For a dog, fetch is all about bringing the ball back to you so you can throw it again.

Cats aren’t natural retrievers, and they don’t have the same instinct to please their owners that dogs do. This means that you’ll have to be a little more creative when teaching your cat to play fetch.

  • Choose a toy that your cat loves and is small enough to carry. A ping pong ball or crumpled-up piece of paper works well.
  • Start by playing with the toy yourself and making a game of it. Show your cat how much fun you’re having and encourage them to join in.
  • Allow them time to play with the toy independently, show interest in it, and get used to it.
  • Once they’re comfortable with the toy, you can start introducing the game of fetch. Begin by rolling or throwing the toy a short distance away from your cat.
  • Decide on a cue word or phrase that you will use to signal to your cat that it’s time to play fetch. “Fetch” or “go get it” are good options.
  • If they go to retrieve it, praise them and give them a treat.
  • Once they catch on, you can begin throwing it further distances. Reinforce the behavior with a treat or pat each time.
  • Keep practicing this until they start showing signs of wanting to fetch the toy back to you (jumping up, for instance)
  • Then mark that behavior as good, give them a treat, and praise.

If your cat becomes frustrated or uninterested at any point, take a break and try again later. Like all training, progress will be made at different rates for each cat. Some may learn quickly, while others may need more time and patience. The most important thing is not to force your cat to do anything they don’t want to do and to make sure the experience is positive for both of you. Do this, and before you know it, your cat will be playing fetch just like a dog.

Cats are much smarter than we give them credit for and can be trained to do all sorts of things, including playing fetch. So, if you want to play this fun game with your cat, have patience, use positive reinforcement, and enjoy spending some quality time with your feline friend.

cat running on green grass
Image by: YuliaPodlesnova, Shutterstock

Cat Breeds That Play Fetch

Let’s face it—a cat won’t do anything it doesn’t want to do. However, some cats are more likely to take to fetch than others, and these breeds are usually those that crave human interaction more than the usual kitty.

Here are a few breeds that may be more inclined to play fetch:

While any cat can be trained to play fetch, these breeds tend to be more intelligent and seek out human companionship; therefore, they are easier to train. So, if you’re looking for a feline friend with whom you can play this fun game, consider one of these breeds. Who knows? You might just have the next world’s greatest feline fetcher on your hands.

Games to Play With Your Cat

Interactive play, like fetch, is an excellent way to bond with your cat. It also provides much-needed mental and physical stimulation.

  • Treasure hunt: Hide small treats around the house and let your cat find them. This is a great way to keep their minds active and sharp.
  • Hide and seek: A game for all species! You can even make it more difficult by hiding in smaller spaces as your cat gets better at finding you.
  • Laser pointer: A classic game that never gets old. Just be sure not to point the laser in their eyes and end the game when they catch the dot.
  • Fishing pole toy: This is a great way to get your cat moving. Just dangle the toy in front of them and watch them go crazy.

There are endless games you can play with your cat to keep them entertained and engaged. So get creative, have fun, and bond with your feline friend.

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Final Thoughts

Whether your cat plays fetch really depends on their personality. Some breeds are more likely to take to the game than others, and even then, it’s not a guarantee. However, with patience, positive reinforcement, and some quality time spent together, you may just be able to teach your cat this fun trick.


Featured Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

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