Cat Athletes With Summer Olympics Talents
Ursa Corynne, Sugar Cube, and Sir Linus: These are cats that are shattering the stereotypical image of cats as lazy, disinterested layabouts. These are the Olympians of the cat world.
"Most people do not believe that cats can be trained, as they seem more aloof and independent than dogs," says Susan Lee, a feline agility trainer from Okemos, Mich. "But on an agility course, they look ahead to the next obstacle, like a horse on a jumping run -- not like a dog, which takes each obstacle individually."
Feline agility training and competition is a relatively new phenomenon, starting less than a decade ago. Today, many cat shows nationwide feature agility competitions. Both of the major cat fancier organizations -- The International Cat Association (TICA) and The Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA) -- have dedicated agility-training programs. "TICA started encouraging clubs to put on agility shows and tournaments, and it's taken off on its own," says Bill Lee, Susan Lee's husband and a fellow official for International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT). "Now it has its own following, and there are even some tournaments without a cat show associated with it."
The typical agility course (aka the "ring" or "arena") consists of a series of ramps, tunnels, hurdles and other obstacles that cats must weave in and out of, up and over, and in a specific order with the coaching of a trainer. Each run is timed, and cats are judged on a combination of speed and how many faults, or errors, they commit.
Cats need to complete the course in fewer than 4.5 minutes to qualify, but Jill Archibald, agility coordinator for CFA, says most complete it in less than a minute, and about 15 percent do so in fewer than 20 seconds. Reports of the best time vary depending on whom you ask, but one clear standout is Ursa Corynne, a Bengal whose owner -- Tami Savard of Xenia, Ohio -- claims a record time of 4.69 seconds.
"When she was little and still nursing, we taught her to drink water from a straw. Now, whenever I have a drink, she jumps into my arms and tries to take the straw," says Savard. "Most cats are led through the course with a toy, but we use a straw! Before she'll run the course, Ursa needs to rub on each piece of equipment to make it smell like her. She then rolls on the floor. After that, she is ready to run."
What Makes a Champion Agility Cat?
After entering and scoring well in several different competitions, a cat can earn the title of Champion or Master (depending on the scoring organization). Most people involved agree that youth is a big asset, as many agility cats perform best as kittens.
"As kittens, they are really focused on the toy that leads them around the ring," says Susan Lee. "When they become adults (age 8 months), they become hormonal and are distracted by the other cat smells in the arena."
The other important quality is a calm and outgoing disposition. Although the courses are enclosed in a fence or mesh, the surrounding area is busy, loud and distracting, with strangers and possibly even barking dogs roaming around. A cat needs to keep its cool amid this chaos.
"The first thing a cat wants to be is safe; if it feels safe, it feels comfortable to do other things," says Archibald, whose Egyptian Mau, Sugar Cube, is a tournament standout. "Sugar Cube hasn't met a person she doesn't trust and get along with. If your cat has this personality and athletic ability, you could have a winner."
Archibald encourages all interested cat owners to give it a shot, but stresses not to expect too much. "Not all cats are going to do this. Some will walk over to the agility arena, lie down and take a nap."
Recent Pet Articles
- The Right Way to Handle Puppy Behavior Issues
- The Silken Windhound: A Low-maintenance Beauty
- Is Your Puppy Ready for Sports?
- Dog-friendly Spring-cleaning: A How-to Guide
- Dog Training Partner
- How to Help Keep an Aging Cat Healthy
- Do Bored Cats Sleep More?
- The Agile Cat
- Cat Athletes With Summer Olympics Talents
- Why Cats Have Whiskers
- 5 Ways to Save on Pet Costs
- 10 Questions a Dog Breeder Wants to Ask You
- Puppy Socialization: A Trainer's Top Tips
- The Real Story Behind Dog Odors
- Apps for Dogs
- Easy Ways to Reduce Pet Allergens in Your Home
- Benefits of Owning a Senior Dog
- What Makes a Dog Yawn?
- 10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy This Spring
- Are You Protecting Your Dog's Health?
- Does Breeding Impact Dog Behavior?
- Dog Treadmills: Safe or Hazardous?
- The Irish Setter: Fun Wears a Red Coat
- How to Read Your Dog
- Games to Download for Your Cat
- Is It Too Late to Train Your Senior Cat?
- How Cats Show Their Happiness
- Natural Ways to Eliminate Litter Box Odor
- Cat Athletes With Summer Olympics Talents
- Is a Toy Dog Breed Your Best Match?
- Introducing Your Older Dog to Your New Puppy
- True Stories of Presidential Dogs
- Off the Beaten Career Path With Dogs
- Best Sleep Position for Dogs
- Keep Your Dog Safe on Night Walks
- How to Exercise Your Cat
- Why Your Cat Acts Stressed and Anxious
- Hidden Causes of Cat Obesity
- Lower Your Stress with a Cat
- The Cat Connection to Dating and Romance
- Make Your Senior Dog Feel at Home
- Top 5 Ways to Improve Life for Your Senior Dog
- Healthy Nutrition for Your Senior Dog
- How to Care for Your Arthritic Dog
- How to Introduce Your Puppy to Your Cat
- Tibetan Spaniels: The Dog for Cat People
- How You and Your Dog Can Go Green
- Dieting With My Dog
- Dog Fitness Centers
- Running With Your Dog During Cooler Weather
- Take Care of Your Dog's Hot Spots
- How to Introduce a New Pet to Your Old Pet
- Should You Clothe Your Cat?
- Cat Sleep Routines
- Can You Give Your Cat a Bath?
- Healthy Nutrition for Your Senior Cat
- Top 3 Apps for Cats
- Breed Match
- Doga: Yoga Your Dog Will Love
- Groom Your Dog Like a Pro
- Puppy, Get That out of Your Mouth!
- Terminate Stinky Dog Breath
- The Schipperke: Escape Artist Extraordinaire
- Help Your Dog Cope With Holiday Guests
- Coping With the Loss of a Dog
- Cat Breeds for Dog Lovers
- Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Your Garden Without Destroying It
- How to Play Tug-of-war With Dogs
- Size up Your Puppy's Food
- What's Not to Love About Yorkies?
- What to Ask a Dog Breeder
- Train Your Aggressive, Biting Kitten
- Can Cats Find Their Way Home?
- Caring for Your Arthritic Cat
- Keep Your Cat Calm During Storms
- Top 5 Ways to Improve Life for Your Senior Cat
Copyright © 2012 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.