Most of us are familiar with dog agility, but have you ever heard of cat agility? The sport has taken the world by slight surprise, but we absolutely love it. The idea is exactly the same; owners train their cats to run through agility courses just like they would dogs. The courses are smaller, but the training and physical conditioning needed are the same.
The very first cat agility trial was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2003. Since then, the sport has grown considerably and there are now roughly 40 annual competitions held at cat shows worldwide. In the United States, both of the largest cat fancier associations, The International Cat Association (TICA) and The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), both support and hold agility events. In fact, CFA had its first national championship in the 2006-2007 season.
The rules for cat agility are similar to those for dog agility, the only difference being that lures such as laser pointers and toys are permitted in cat agility trials. Food treats, however, are not allowed. In dog agility trials, no food, treats, or lures are allowed in the ring. Anything can be used to train your cat and you’ll find what works best for both of you. Competitors suggest starting your cat as a kitten if you’re able to, but that’s not to say cats started at an older age can’t do well in the sport.
If you’re interested in watching cat agility or getting started in it yourself, the International Cat Agility Tournaments, or iCAT, has a vast array of information available. On their website, you’ll be able to find all of the rules and specifications of the trial, tips for training your cat at home and even classes available near you. Just like dog agility, the primary method of training cats suitable for agility is with lures, treats and clickers. However you decide to train, you and your cat are going to develop a special bond together that only comes from training. After all, that’s what sports are for. They offer a way to have fun and build relationships with our pets! So if you think you’re interested in trying out cat agility, go ahead and find a competition or course near you!