Willson, E. K., Stratton, R. B., Bolwell, C. F. et al. 2017. Comparison of positive reinforcement training in cats: A pilot study. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 21, 64-70.
Positive reinforcement training with cats is a useful tool for improving the human-animal bond, treating behavior problems, and teaching novel tasks. In part 1 of this study, 3 cats were assessed for extinction to a conditioned stimulus; in part 2 of the study, we attempted to train 9 cats to nose touch a target using 1 of 3 positive reinforcement methods. The 3 positive reinforcement methods included training the novel task by using a primary reinforcer, a bridging stimulus, and a secondary reinforcer. The efficacy of the positive reinforcement method was assessed by the number of trials and length of time it took to achieve the task. There were significant time differences between the 2 successful groups; the primary reinforced group acquired the task quicker than the bridging stimulus group. The secondary reinforced group was not successful in achieving the novel task. However, there were no significant differences in the number of trials it took for the successful groups to acquire the task. Using primary reinforcement training in cats may be more effective than using a bridging stimulus or a secondary reinforcer when comparing the time taken to achieve a novel task.