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My oldest cat (Ginger, 12 years old, female, spayed) is very food motivated so I thought she would take to clicker training. She flinches away from the sound of the clicker and after about 3-4 treats she ignores me (and the food!) altogether.

Should I just keep trying to associate the clicker with the food (2-3 treats at a time)? Is there something else I should do besides just click/treat? Or will she never become accustomed to the clicker?

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My advice is to STOP using the clicker. Your kitty isn't going to respond to a sound she doesn't like.

TONGUE AS CLICKER: I have "clicker trained" my cats using my tongue as a clicker. I put the end of tongue to the roof of my mouth and make two quick, successive clicks. You have to be sure to make the exact sound each time. Using this method, you can soften the sound so it is more pleasant to your cat.

SHORT SESSIONS: Remember, clicker training a cat takes some patience and time. You need to keep your sessions very short and repeat each day. (There is nothing a cat likes more than everything happening the exact same way everyday.) Basically, if the cat is finished with the session, you're finished. You try again the next day. Trying to force a cat to participate or getting frustrated at your cat will not work.

NATURAL MOVEMENTS: Also, I'm not sure what you're trying to train her to do, but remember you have to use the cat's natural movements.

Clicker training can be a great bonding experience between you and your kitty. Best wishes to you both!

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I didn't think there's any good way to predict what her reaction to the clicker will be over time. Clearly she either doesn't like the sound or associates it with something bad.

You could start using the clicker às part of calling her for dinner. But here's nothing magical about clicks, they're just conveniently easy to hear and brief so they can be clearly connected to a specific action. A different click, or a puff on a dogwhistle, or anything else with those characteristics, might be worth trying.

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