Courtesy of Anika Moritz / Instagram
You've heard the saying about teaching a dog new tricks, but what about cats?
Cat lover Anika Moritz trained her beautiful tortoiseshell Alexis to complete more than two dozen tasks—all within the span of one minute. Their incredible accomplishment earned them a place in the Guinness World Records (though it didn't come without a little dedication and teamwork).
Anika Moritz and Alexis did not have to pull any strings to secure their spot in history—except to open a box, per the incredible video below. Moritz used positive reinforcement to help 8-year-old Alexis become a record-breaker with 26 tricks in 60 seconds. This was more tricks than their previous record in 2017 of 14 tricks in one minute. Moritz told Daily Paws that Alexis is her lucky charm: "Alexis was born on the 13th of Friday as a tortoiseshell cat, and these cats are known to provide good luck."
Moritz started training Alexis when the cat was a year old. Using positive reinforcement, Moritz tells Guinness World Records that their training involved a clicker to 'mark' the desired behavior, followed by a treat and/or a compliment after every single trick that's completed.
Moritz also adds that she thinks "training should always be fun and worth it." Animal health experts like Mickey Snead, DVM, a veterinarian at Arlington Animal Clinic in Arlington, Mass. agree. "The relationship between an owner and pet is built on trust," Snead says. When it comes to your feline friend, Snead says that training can take work, but the results are worth it. Plus, she adds, "teaching your cat tricks can help owners be more aware if anything is 'off' with their cat in the future."
If you're up for a fun way to bond with your cat, you can try teaching your cat a few new tricks like the ones Alexis and Moritz have mastered.
Start by setting aside 5-10 minutes a day for training time, and have a handful of tasty treats to incentivize your feline friend. There are a few essential commands to get you two started off on the right paw. And hang in there while you both still learn to read each other's cues: Experts say that frequent rewards, positivity, and patience will have you and your cat well on your way to giving Alexis and Moritz some friendly competition!
While it's certainly possible to train your cat to do incredible things just like dogs can, if the two of you are more comfortable perched on the catio together, that's OK too. Just remember: Even if you don't set a new record, you'll probably become closer to your kitty in the process. So whether or not your furry friend ever masters a high-five, teaching your cat new tricks can be a great bonding activity between pet and human.
As Moritz says, "Cats are intelligent little creatures who deserve to be treated well." Learning something new together can be a great way to keep your cat engaged and active—especially with more time indoors together during the pandemic. Moritz says they still love to do trick training together, but that Alexis has been extra cuddly during lockdown. Sounds like these two have another great routine figured out… simply hanging out and keeping each other happy!