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How to Train Your Cat to Shake Hands

One of the cutest tricks you can do is the cat handshake. This is where your cat reaches up to meet your hand and you shake it. You can also teach them fun

Start with treats
First, go out and get a bag of high-quality cat treats. Start saying “shake” and touching their paws and giving them treats. You don’t have to treat them every time you say the word but do it often enough that they began to associate the word “shake” with the paw touching and the treat.

Next, sit in front of them at their eye level. Say in a clear, friendly voice, “shake,” and then touch your paw with their hand and “hold” it briefly… Right after that, give them a treat and some encouraging words and some petting. Repeat this with each cat over a period of about half an hour, then take a break.

Encourage the action
The next day, repeat the same action, but hold a treat in between your fingers, put your hand (with the treat in it) in front of the cat’s face, and say “shake.”

When I did this, I noticed it seemed like they were wanting to move their paws when they heard me say “shake,” but they seemed a little uncertain about it. I could see the little wheels turning in their minds, but they didn’t quite have it down yet. I continued the reinforcement with the words, the actions, and the treats with lots of petting for about another hour that second day.

The third day is really when it all came together. They saw me hold up the treat, they heard me say “shake” and they actually started to reach toward my hand with their paws on their own! I immediately rewarded them by giving them the treat and telling them “Good girl” or “Good boy” with lots of petting.

On the fourth day and for about a week thereafter, go to your cat at random intervals and ask them to shake, then give them a treat. I did this a few times each day whenever I thought about it, not on any particular schedule. They pretty much performed the shake each time, and if they didn’t do it right away I touched their paw and said the word again to give them a little reminder.

Repeat this action as many times as necessary. For me, after that week, I would ask my cats to shake without letting them see that I had a treat, and they still gave me a shake. Now, it’s such a practiced behavior that months can go by, and Fluffy, the cat I still have from the bunch, will still do it right away.

Can cats shake hands?
Get on the same level as your cat. While saying “shake,” tap the paw you want your cat to shake. … Continue this sequence of events over many short sessions until you can hold out your hand and say “shake” and cat places his paw in your hand.

These methods are really quite similar to the methods of teaching a dog to shake. One method is to hold your hand near your dog and notice whenever your dog moves her paw the way you want her to. Then reward her and start giving a verbal cue. Method two involves lightly touching behind the dewclaw (the extra nail on the foot) and then rewarding her when she lifts her foot. You can try similar methods with your cats, too!

Why do kittens shake their paws?
Cats do this whenever they had some sort of pain, anxiety, fear, etc. I have also seen cats doing this when they accidentally put their paw on water. There is even an endocrine disorder called Addison’s disease which can cause excessive shivering as well.