Photo by Andreas Krappweis

So you want to know how to train a Bengal cat to do tricks?

A cat?

Are you sure?

Actually, your assertions are not misplaced, especially when it comes to training Bengal cats.

Considered to be at the higher end of the cat intelligence spectrum, Bengals are well suited to be being taught.

This article will tell you all you need to have and know in order to teach your Bengal basic right through to more complicated tricks.

But why should you train your Bengal in the first place… ?

Why Train a Bengal Cat?

For many, teaching their Bengal tricks will be purely for entertainment purposes, which was something that didn’t interest me.

However, I discovered if you learn how to train your Bengal cat to do tricks, it can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes…

Physical and Mental Health

Bengal cats are notoriously high energy, inquisitive and can get bored easily if they are not sufficiently mentally and physically stimulated.

This can lead to poor health and destructive behaviour (see 7 BIG Reasons Why Your Bengal Cat Is Spraying [and how to stop it]).

Training then can satiate both these needs.

Bonding

The mechanics of how to train your Bengal cat to do tricks are essentially to do with play.

This encourages both parties to bond and understand each other better.

And of course, what cat wouldn’t bond to someone offering them an almost constant supply of treats?

Photo by Paul Hanaoka

Discipline

Cats are said to respond better to positive reinforcement as opposed to punishing behaviour (although I’ve found mimicking a cat’s angry growl and hiss can be an effective measure to keep Hazel away from certain things).

Bengals can be taught to respond to commands, to stay in one spot and to respond to their name being called– a form of discipline by stealth if you will.

Now we know ‘why’- let’s get to the ‘how’ of teaching tricks…

How Do You Teach Tricks To A Cat?

Put simply, it’s all about rewarding, usually with a cat treat, once it carries out the desired action(s).

The reward is associated with the verbal command, for example ‘sit’, and in time (which is often very short for Bengals) the verbal command will produce the desired trick or behaviour.

There are some tools that can help aid this process, which we shall look at next…

What You Will/May Need Before You Start

For most tricks you will need a combination of the following:

Treats: These are an absolute necessity. You can’t reason with a Bengal, but you can get them to do a heck of a lot with the promise of a few choice treats.

To increase their impact, it’s recommended you attempt training BEFORE meals. A Bengal full of cat food is more likely to want to drift off to sleep than to touch your hand to receive a biscuit.

A Clicker: This small device emits a clicking noise when a button is pressed. Essentially the ‘click’ should attract your Bengal’s attention and it will soon associate that sound with a treat/trick.

In time, the clicker can be replaced with a verbal command, although it’s actually possible to teach without the clicker altogether.

But see here to shop for clickers.

A Target Stick: Something I’d not heard of before, these are retractable wands which may come with a clicker attached.

Usually with the addition of something kitty wants to eat the end of it, a target stick will guide your cat to a specific point. It’s also used to aid the teaching of tricks that require a cat to touch something or use its paw.

Not an essential item as any stick can be used.

Laser Pointer: A little dot of light works remarkably well at getting your cat to a specific location and then guiding it to another. A lot of the time, you won’t even have to get up out of your chair. If interested, see here.

A Bit of Patience: Always beneficial and costs nothing.

So let’s get training…

How To Train A Bengal Cat To Do Tricks

The basics.

It’s recommended you use a clicker, but command words can work just as well.

The command words mentioned in this article are just examples.

Choose your own if you prefer, but keep them simple.

Cats are said to recognise vowel sounds so keep them distinct.

The basic principle of how all tricks work is ACT-CLICK- REWARD, with the ultimate result being COMMAND WORD-ACT-REWARD OCCASIONALLY.

Please approach these with a degree of flexibility especially where the list instructs you to insert a command or click.

See what works for you and your Bengal.

First things first.

Names.

Trick #1: Get Your Bengal To Come To You When You Call Its Name

This about your cat associating its name with a reward.

There are numerous ways to do this, and all are variants of this theme.

In time, it should come to you without you having a treat to offer, although it won’t necessarily know that…

  1. Place some treats in a cup
  2. Shake it and call your cat
  3. When it comes, click the clicker and offer a treat
  4. Stand somewhere else and repeat

Eventually you can stop using the clicker and just use your cat’s name. Give it a treat now and again.

To read how we got on teaching Hazel this, see ‘Teaching A Bengal Kitten Its Name’.

Trick #2: Get Your Bengal To Follow You

A trick that could be helpful if you need to lead your cat away from danger or you want it to lead it somewhere to avoid certain areas or objects.

This works best if your cat is already sitting down.

  1. Take some treats
  2. When your cat shows interest, slowly walk away
  3. When your cat follows, click and give it a treat
  4. In time, repeat just using the command word instead of the clicker

Trick #3: Teach Your Bengal To Sit

A standard act to teach a dog, but a Bengal can learn to sit in one spot fairly easily too.

Sit! (Photo by Andreas Krappweis)

I taught this to Hazel and she picked it up after a couple of sessions.

  1. Put some treats in your hand
  2. With your hand above and in front of your cat’s head, slowly move it from side-to-side
  3. When it your cat sits, click and reward with a treat
  4. Try again in a different location

Putting your hand above your cat’s head will make it look up and eventually adopt the sitting posture.

You can use a clicker just before giving the treat but we got along fine without one by saying ‘sit’ instead.

Trick #4: Get Your Bengal To Sit On Its Hind Legs

Photo by Andreas Krappweis

This is like getting it to sit, but followed by it rearing up so its front paws are off the ground.

  1. Put some treats in your hand
  2. Put your hand above your cat’s head
  3. Raise your hand after your cat attempts to take the treat with its mouth
  4. When it sits on its hind legs, click, and give it a treat
  5. Introduce the command and ditch the clicker before giving a treat once your Bengal knows what to do.

I suspect you could get away with doing this without the clicker and simply say ‘sit up’ whilst carrying out part 3 of this trick.

Having not tried it though, I’m not going to say that for certain.

A target stick can also be used instead of a fist full of treats.

Trick #5: Teach Your Bengal To Spin Around In A Circle

I’m sure most Bengal owners will have whipped their cat up into a frenzy of play to the point where it’ll spin and run around in a circle almost to the point of dizziness.

This can be taught- the running around in a circle bit at least.

A target stick or equivalent is needed.

  1. Get your cat interested in the end of the stick
  2. Once it starts to follow, move the stick in a circular motion
  3. If your cat responds and follows the circle, click and reward
  4. Add the command word after or instead of a click

You can move the stick faster once your cat understands what to do and/or train it to run in a circle in both directions.

Trick #6: Teach Your Bengal To Lie On The Ground

This may seem like to stuff of fiction for owners of Bengal cats, but yes, you can teach your cat to be static for a short time.

Getting it to learn to lie down is also useful if you need to check/look over your cat for any particular (health) reason.

  1. Get your cat interested in a treat (this shouldn’t take much effort…)
  2. Hide it in your hand and put it on the floor, whilst saying ‘lie down’
  3. Repeat this until eventually your cat does so
  4. Click and give the cat treat

Alternatively, try this:

  1. Have a handful of treats with your cat in the sitting position
  2. Place your hand in front of your cat’s front paws
  3. Slowly pull your hand away
  4. When your Bengal lies down, click and offer them a treat
  5. Repeat and in time add your verbal command of choice

Trick #7: Getting Your Bengal To Roll Over

Looks good, but also potentially beneficial if you want to check your cat’s underbelly for any health reasons.

There are two ways of going about teaching this.

Both are likely to work better on a softer, more comfortable surface.

  1. Take a treat and get your cat’s attention
  2. Move your hand (with treat) in a circular motion starting near your cat’s head
  3. Your cat should start to adjust its position/body following your hand
  4. Make your hand swoop down close to the floor- your Bengal should follow suit
  5. If it does then roll over, click and reward
  6. Include a verbal cue as appropriate

The second method requires your cat to lie down- something that’s that much easier if you’ve already taught your Bengal how.

  1. Your Bengal should be lying on its side with a shoulder and hip in contact with the floor
  2. Take a treat and move it around the neck area (from front to back) encouraging a twisting/roll motion
  3. If it rolls, click and reward
  4. Introduce a cue word as standard

I tried both on Hazel and couldn’t get her to roll. Maybe you’ll succeed where I failed..

Trick #8: Get Your Bengal To Touch An Object With Its Paw

The next few involve how to train a Bengal cat to do tricks using a paw.

My Bengal’s quite good at touching objects, though it’s often those we’d prefer her to leave alone.

Photo By Andreas Krappweis

To get yours to touch something preferential, try the following:

  1. Place item near cat or cat near item
  2. Take a handful of treats
  3. Place a treat on or near the object
  4. When you cat reaches out to take it, move the treat
  5. If the object is touched, click and reward
  6. If not, repeat until it does so

I guess this would only work with the specific object used in training. Your cat may need to be retrained to touch a different one.

Again, a keyword can be used once familiar with the task or during instead of a clicker- but you probably guessed that.

Trick #9: High-Five Your Kitty

It’ll look like you’re best friends although you’ll both know it’s about the treat…

This trick follows a similar pattern to #8- getting your Bengal to touch an object- the object in this instance being your hand.

  1. Take a handful of treats
  2. Place a treat near your hand which is in a raised ‘high five’ position
  3. When you cat reaches out to take it, move the treat
  4. If your hand is touched, click and reward

An alternative, similar method is below:

  1. With a treat in hand, allow your cat to try and grab it
  2. As it does so, move the treat closer to your high-five hand
  3. When it (eventually) touches your hand, click and reward

If these two fail, there is a third way of teaching this trick. You will need something that can stick to your hand- like a coloured sticker or small post-it/sticky note.

  1. Place a treat under the sticker or note
  2. When your cat moves this out of the way to get the treat, click and allow it to take the reward
  3. Repeat until your cat makes the connection between touching the sticker and the getting the treat
  4. Place the sticker on the palm of your hand
  5. When your cat touches it, click and reward
  6. Repeat this- gradually moving your hand into the high-five position
  7. Use a smaller sticker until one is no longer needed

A good command phrase like ‘high-five’ would come at point 6.

 

Trick #10: Shaking ‘Hands’ With Your Bengal

The more formal alternative to the high-five.

Your Bengal may not be happy with you touching its paw. Also, watch out for claws.

  1. Hold a treat close to one of your cat’s paws
  2. If it goes for the treat, move it to the other hand which should be out in the ‘handshake’ position
  3. When there’s a touch, clock and reward
  4. In time, briefly hold the paw, shake it a little, then reward

You could try getting it accustomed to this by gently picking up a paw, clicking and rewarding.

If this doesn’t work, then move onto something else, or stick to high-fiving…

Alternatively, if you’re Bengal doesn’t mind you touching a paw (or it now knows it’ll be rewarded for it), try the following:

  1. Extend a hand
  2. Repeat your command word (‘shake’ for example)
  3. When it places a paw in your hand, gently shake and reward with a treat

Add a line for comedic purposes, such as “Congratulations, you’ve got the job,” or “sorry, but we’re not giving the job to a cat.”

Trick #11: Making a Bengal Cat Miaow/Meow Back at You

Bengals are notoriously vocal so not many owners will need to know how to train their Bengal cat to do tricks that require ‘cat verbals.’

Photo by Kim Davies

But if yours is perhaps not as forthcoming, this is what you can try:

  1. With treats at the ready, reward every time your Bengal does miaow
  2. In time, try miaowing (or say ‘miaow’ and see if you get a response)
  3. If the miaow is returned, reward with a treat

Reward sporadically once your Bengal understands the game.

Trick #12: How To Train A Bengal Cat Not To Bite Your Hand

This is more of a lesson than a trick.

Our Bengal can be happily enjoying a head stroke one minute, then trying to bite the administering hand (albeit lightly) the next.

This method will teach your Bengal that a hand is to be dealt with gently…

  1. Apply some wet food or paste to the back of one of your hands
  2. Allow your Bengal to lick it off
  3. Repeat the word ‘gentle’ or similar as it does so
  4. If it starts to bite pull your hand away and try again on another occasion

Trick #13: Teach A Bengal To Kiss You

Not in a romantic way because as usual, it’s all about food.

  1. Dab a little wet (cat) food on your cheek
  2. Position yourself so that your cat can lick this off
  3. As it does so click and reward with a treat
  4. Use a command work such as ‘kiss’ to replace the clicker

Trick #14: Get Your Bengal To Jump When You Say So

Bengal cats are much closer to their wild ancestors than most other domesticated breeds.

This makes them keen and expert climbers and jumpers.

You can tap into these natural abilities to have your Bengal jump on command.

A target stick, wand toy or laser pointer will also help here.

  1. Get your cat interested in and playing with the end of your target stick (or equivalent)
  2. Move it to a jumpable/gettable height
  3. When your cat performs a jump, click and reward
  4. As always use a command word in time or instead of clicking

Trick #15: Teach Your Bengal To Jump Through A Hoop

Quite the party trick.

Stating the obvious, but you’ll need a hoop for this one.

  1. Place the hoop in a position that will encourage your cat to walk/jump through it- for example, near its front paws
  2. Click and reward if it does so
  3. If not, place the hoop between your cat and a treat
  4. Once it gets used to this, raise the hoop off the ground a little
  5. Click and reward every time it jumps through
  6. Keep raising to a suitable height

Add a command as appropriate.

Trick #16: Ordering Your Cat Into (and out of) A Box Or Carrier

If your Bengal cat is anything like mine, then you’ll know any new box has to be fully investigated, rubbed against and sat in.

Photo by Andreas Krappweis

But if you want to teach Bengal cats to get in one (or a carrier), then try the method below.

  1. Grab a treat and get your cat’s attention
  2. Place the treat in the box/carrier
  3. Click when your cat is suitably in the box/carrier
  4. Do the reverse to get it out again
  5. Use/insert command words for each act

To get your cat even more used to its carrier, place a food bowl in there now and again and reward every time you go on a journey.

A blanket or toy covered in your cat’s scent will also help (see ‘The Cat, The Car and The Carrier‘).

Trick #17: Get Your Cat To Stay In One Spot

Previous lessons have been about how to train your Bengal cat to do tricks involving some kind of movement.

This is kind of the opposite as it’s about getting your Bengal to stay in a particular spot until you say so, which can be helpful if you need your cat out of the way for a little while for any reason that benefits your or it.

It’s about making the mat a spot your cat will really want to stay on.

  1. Place a cloth or small mat in the ‘stay’ location
  2. When your cat steps onto the mat, click and reward
  3. Draw it away from the mat- maybe with another treat
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 and introduce a cue word to instruct your cat to go to the mat
  5. Once there, start to reward them multiple times- plenty of clicks and treats needed here
  6. Every time your Bengal then goes to the mat, reward generously and introduce a cue word like ‘stay’
  7. With your cat on the mat, begin to build distance between you and it by stepping away. Maintain use of the cue word
  8. If it stays, move closer and click and reward
  9. Repeat this and build in more distance and stay away for longer

Trick #18: How To Train A Bengal Cat To Play Fetch

A game almost hardwired into canines, but felines, especially Bengal cats, can play along too.

Our Bengal when a kitten, spontaneously began to bring her spring toy to us to throw and retrieve.

If yours doesn’t do this, try the following steps. Or just a get a dog…

  1. Take one of your Bengal’s preferred toys- something throwable of course. Not a vase
  2. Gain your cat’s interest and encourage it to go for the toy
  3. Throw it
  4. If your cat goes for the toy, show it a treat
  5. Don’t let your cat have the treat UNLESS it brings the toy back
  6. Click/say ‘fetch’ and reward if it does

Yes, it’s much less work if your Bengal cat can learn this spontaneously.

Trick #20: Play The Shell Game With Your Bengal

A classic street game you can play with your cat and not lose money in the process…

  1. Put three cups in line and get your cat’s attention (if it isn’t inspecting the cups already…)
  2. Show it a treat and place it under one of the cups
  3. Shuffle the cups a few times
  4. See which of the cups your cat goes for first
  5. Lift the cup of choice- click and reward if correct
  6. Repeat and maybe in time, increase the number of cups
  7. You could also introduce a cue word like ‘find’

You could also do the same by trying to get your cat to pick which of your hands the treat is in. Just be wary of over eager claws.

How To Train A Bengal Cat To Do Tricks With More Specific Equipment

These are in a separate section as not everyone will own a bell, piano or skateboard.

Trick #21: Train Your Bengal To Ring A Bell

This is basically the same as getting your cat to touch an object but with a slight alteration.

Photo by Agostino Martinelli

I have a feeling it could be one of those novelties that’s amusing at first and then rapidly gets annoying…

  1. Hold or place the bell near to your cat
  2. Take a handful of treats
  3. Place a treat on or near the bell
  4. When you cat reaches out to take it, move the treat
  5. If your cat touches the bell AND IT RINGS, click and reward
  6. If not, repeat until it does so

Introduce a command such as ‘ring’ where appropriate.

Trick #22: Get Your Bengal Playing The Piano

Yes, you will need a piano or keyboard.

Chances are if you already own one of these, your Bengal has shown interest in it and has already composed its own brand of ‘music.’

If you want your cat to play the piano (or at least, hit a few keys) on command, follow the below steps.

  1. Put a chair or desk next to the piano and a height that will allow your cat to comfortably reach the keys
  2. Your Bengal may spontaneously start hitting the keys- if it does so, click and reward
  3. If not, try tapping keys near to your cat to encourage it to follow suit
  4. If this fails, a few treats on keys may generate the desired outcome
  5. In time, introduce a keyword like ‘play’ or an equivalent
  6. Learn the guitar; start your own band

Trick #23: Get Your Bengal Skateboarding

In reality, this is about your cat being comfortable with sitting on a moving object, so don’t think this is about how to train a bengal cat to do tricks like 360s or similar.

Well, at least not straight away…

Although Bengal cats are notoriously easy to train, this may be one step too far for some.

Be patient as it can take weeks or longer for them just to lose their fear of being on a board that moves.

You could place the skateboard in some of your cat’s favourite places to build familiarity.

Then it’s all about time and treats.

  1. Allow your cat to fully investigate the skate board (assuming it hasn’t seen one before)
  2. Encourage your cat to get onto it- with a treat
  3. Or place your cat onto the board and click/reward immediately
  4. Continue to reward each time your cat gets on
  5. Once this has become a habit, begin to slowly move the board
  6. Try to keep your cat in position by giving it a treat

Once comfortable you can give the skateboard larger pushes to increase speed and distance it travels.

Trick #24: Teach Your Bengal To Drive

Imagine….

Photo by Andreas Krappweis

Further Training

Or ‘How to train a Bengal cat to do more than just tricks’….

How To Exercise A Bengal Cat

Vital for all cats, not just Bengals- regular exercise helps maintain physical and mental health and can extend life expectancy.

Arguably the best form of exercise comes from playing with your cat.  For toys ideas see ‘Best Toys For Bengal Cats [in the world] 2021’.

Housecats in particular could benefit from a cat wheel, or perhaps you’d like to take your Bengal for a walk, which is possible as we shall see…

How To Train A Bengal Cat To Walk On A Leash

This is possible although will take time.

But the benefits could be huge if you have an energetic, housebound Bengal you won’t or can’t give outside access to.

First you will need to choose an appropriate harness and leash (for harnesses, take a look at ‘The Best Bengal Cat Harness [2021]‘).

Then your Bengal cat will require time to get used to wearing its harness before you attach a leash.

Only once this has been achieved can you think about small walks, first in a familiar setting, before attempting somewhere more distant.

To see how this went with our Bengal, please read ‘A Bengal Cat (Un)Leashed‘.

Now I know what you’re thinking-

“What about toilet training.. ?”

How To Train A Bengal Cat To Use The Toilet Instead Of A Litter Box

If you and your cat can pull this off then it’s goodbye to a soiled litter box and all that’s associated.

Be wary though, as the route to lavatorial love may not run smoothly, so expect some accidents along the way.

There are kits you can buy to help, like this.

Which can lead to this:

Summary

This article should have given you enough to now know how to train a Bengal cat to do tricks.

There’s plenty you can teach your Bengal to do- right from getting it to learn its name through to ‘playing’ a piano.

Most however, only require simple teaching aids, alongside bowls of treats and a little (or a lot of) patience.

Many of these ‘tricks’ will actually serve a beneficial purpose as they help you to bond and keep your cat mentally and physically stimulated.

Having said that, a cat nonchalantly rolling along on a skateboard is bound to raise a smile.

So which will you attempt first?

Further Reading: