Caturday Felid- Can your cat do this?

November 19, 2011 • 7:47 am

by Greg Mayer

Today’s New York Times has an article about something I didn’t even know existed: cat agility competitions!

Anthony Hutcherson training his cat. Photo by Doug Mills/NYT.

The cats must run an obstacle course of tunnels, steps, hurdles,  etc., and competitions are held at the major cat shows (which are better known for the judging of pedigreed cats; for the dog version, see Best in Show).  Some cats are well trained but others “make it clear to the eager onlookers that they could not care less.”

Trainer Jill Archibald has posted a number of training videos online at Monkeysee, and also on Youtube.

If there were a box-jumping-into event, Maru might be good at it.

A number of the cats featured in the NYT article are so-called ‘Bengal cats‘, which are not domestic cats (Felis catus), but hybrids between domestic cats and leopard cats (Felis (Prionailurus) bengalensis), which have undergone several generations of breeding and selection past the F1. I’m not sure if crossing with a wild species makes them better (more agile?) or worse (harder to train?) at competing than domestic cats.

14 thoughts on “Caturday Felid- Can your cat do this?

  1. If they had a “catch-and-nom-the-lizard-even-though-you’re-on-a-leash” category, Baihu would do astoundingly well. Unfortunately, the judges would have to be entirely out of sight…you see, he’s even better at “panic and run away when any non-Ben human comes near,” and he reigns supreme at How Not To Be Seen.

    Cheers,

    b&

  2. It’s sort of sad that at cat shows, the pedigree competitions — which, let’s face it, are bad for the cats, very bad over the course of many generations — are the main attraction, while this, which really shows off the natural talents of cats and is healthy for them, can barely find space to be a sideshow.

    A cat jumping is truly a thing of beauty.

  3. By the way, I had a cat who would fetch rubber bands, and would actually jump several feet in the air to try to catch the rubber band when you threw it. She was really well-trained at it for awhile, but when I got a second cat she got less attention and would only do it when she was in the mood. But it was pretty remarkable for a while!

  4. Merlyn would make a fabulous goal tender. He will stop a fuzzy ball 4 feet over his head, even if he’s unprepared.

    Keeshu smacked a grackle out of the air six feet off the ground once. It was her proudest moment. She still brags about it.

  5. I’m not sure if crossing with a wild species makes them better (more agile?) or worse (harder to train?) at competing than domestic cats.

    I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of demestic cats being easy to train. Or did you mean that domestic cats are better at training you?

  6. I have one of these cats, my daughter gave him as a gift to me and he is nine y/o now. He started doing that kind of jumping on his own when he was a kitten. We were all amazed at his athletic abilities, he is still just as agile now but doesn’t do the jumping thing these days. These cats train themselves to do what they want, they’re fearless, and are good at training humans.

    They are also very much outdoor cats, mine gets really neurotic when he can’t get out because of weather.

  7. “I’m not sure if crossing with a wild species makes them better (more agile?) or worse (harder to train?) at competing than domestic cats.”

    I know several Bengals and they are WEIRD. They also, interestingly, have a skull crest running longitudinally (of course). Never felt one of those on a domestic!

    And they are powerful and agile! The ones I know can easily leap from the floor to the top of a window curtain rod (approx. 7-ft/2+m) off the ground from a immobile, crouched position. It’s amazing.

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