How To Make Your Cat A Model
Just like our canine friends, there are many cats in TV ads helping to sell products.
Many products and services are specifically meant for our feline friends, but there are also many others that are simply featured in an advertisement to add a bit of ‘aww’ factor for lifestyle brands trying to appeal more to viewers.
While dogs are generally more social creatures than cats, so can be easier to work with on set, there are still plenty of cats that won’t mind the pampering and admiration that comes with being a pet su-paw-star!
Do cats in TV ads need to be trained?
While any advertisers or production companies often just want a cat that can remain calm and do some basic ‘cat’ things, if your cat can perform a couple of little tricks, is trained to play with a laser and is able to take direction, then that is a bonus.
Your cat doesn’t have to be able to flip around doing somersaults on command to make it as a pet model or TV star, but they do need to be comfortable around strangers and able to relax in a busy environment.
There are many tricks used on set and in the post-editing process that can help make a cat far more animated or skilled than it might be, so if they have the basics, your cat could well be on its way to being featured in your favourite brand’s advertisement.
The benefits of training your cat
Given cats are highly intelligent pets, they need to be kept mentally and physically stimulated. So even if you aren’t training your cat for TV stardom, doing some regular obedience or tricks training with your cat can be good for their health, provide some fun for you both and helps to build your bond.
Bored cats are prone to overeating, oversleeping and can develop stress disorders. They can also get the equivalent of human Alzheimer’s, so incorporating some training into their routine is a great way to keep them active.
Training a cat to carry out a variety of actions can include sitting and coming when called, to doing high fives and fetching, the same as for dogs.
However, since most cats are not as social as dogs, they are unlikely to be motivated by simple praise like many dogs are, so you will have to use food or treats as your motivation when training a cat.
To avoid overfeeding them make sure you count their treats towards their total daily calorie intake and don’t leave their food out so they can graze all day.
Cats don’t respond well at all to punishment (neither do our dogs either for that matter!) so training must be positive and done in short bursts. The last thing you want is for them to become stressed and anxious from training, keep it fun.
When training a cat or dog you need to make sure you reward your cat immediately when it produces the behaviour you want, so that they can make the connection between the desired behaviour and receiving a treat.
Doing some clicker training or conditioning them to a marker word such as ‘yes’ can also help you to be more precise with the timing and action. You can also put it on cue like you would when training a dog.
There are plenty of articles or online videos to help you with training a cat. So, if you are up for having some fun with your feline friend, plus potentially also increase their chances of being considered for a TV ad or catalogue work, then it’s worth giving it a go for their health and wellbeing as well.
Check out the steps below and the video for teaching your cat to ‘shake’, featuring one of our A-lister’s Bubby who was featured in a Vitapet TV promotion.
Training a cat to ‘shake’
- The aim is to get your cat to move their paw towards your hand, using a treat inside a closed palm.
- The cat should be curious and will sniff or paw up toward the hand.
- For even a slight paw lift, mark with a click or ‘yes; and then reward.
- After your cat enjoys her reward, reset and try again.
- Ultimately, the goal is for her paw to raise all the way off the ground and touch your hand.
- To get this, reward your cat as her paw raises gradually become higher.
- Some felines will immediately move their paws to touch your hand while others start with only minute movements that are then built upon in multiple training sessions.
- Once your cat is reliably (90% of the time) lifting their paw to ‘shake’ you can then start to introduce the cue word.
Be careful not to reward the wrong behaviour. If your cat doesn’t produce the behaviour you want, stop and wait until she does what you want.