By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 16 April 2011)
Cat agility contests are pitting felines against courses of 6-14 obstacles including tunnels, poles and cones. Fast cats run the course in about 10 seconds, while the slower kitties take several minutes. Cat agility tournaments are becoming increasingly popular, with at least 100 shows taking place each year.
Cats are not particularly obedient, but tournament cats will run the course for fun, praise and treats. Many owners use clicker training (making a click sound when the cat completes a desired action) or lure cats along with toys on sticks. While some cats are natural competitors, others will stop in the middle of a contest to groom themselves or run the course their own way, giving the obstacles a miss, which lends an element of unpredictability to the tournaments.
Competitors do not have to be purebreds or show cats to enter. Shelter adoptees and housecats are welcome. A blind cat and a cat with three legs have also competed successfully.
If you’d like to find a nearby cat agility competition, visit International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT). To see photos of the agile (and in some cases not so agile) cats in action, visit USA Today. You can watch training videos on the Cat Fanciers’ Association website as well.