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How to get your cat involved in sports

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Expert Q&A

I've heard that there's a new sport for cats: feline agility. What is this, and how can I get my pet involved?

Feline agility is becoming a popular sport for cats and their owners. I don't think it's all that new, but groups are more organized now, with scheduled competitions that are similar to those for dog-agility fanatics.

"Cat agility is a sport in which a handler directs or lures a cat through an obstacle course as quickly as possible," according to International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT), which hosts many events. Not all cats are cut out for this sport, however, as you might imagine. ICAT advises that you consider the following questions:

Can your cat handle new situations calmly, and does it enjoy investigating new people and things? Your cat may love to play at home in its familiar environment, but feline agility would take a shy, or less socialized, cat out of such a comfort zone.

Is your cat truly motivated to play? Since you must work with your cat through the agility course, the task could be a huge challenge for both of you if your pet isn't eager to go from the start.

How well-trained is your cat? Getting through an agility course requires some training basics, such as verbal and visual commands and rewards. If your cat is already well-trained and wants to learn, feline agility could be a great experience for you both.

How old is your cat? ICAT agility competitions are for healthy cats that are 8 months or older. Experts say it's best to get your cat started early.

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