Shoulder training your catventurer can be a lot of fun but, should the situation arise where you need to quickly and safely remove your cat from the ground, it is also a useful skill to have in your catventurer's tool kit.
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When we think of shoulder riding cats, the first cat that comes to our mind is Bob, who famously rode on the shoulders of his beloved human James around the streets of London. Training your cat to shoulder ride is not only a lot of fun and may be convenient during a catventure (despite the inevitable scratches!), it may also be an activity that enhances and strengthens your human-cat bond. However, the main reason we recommend adding shoulder riding into your catventurer's training is for safety. If you are faced with a situation where you need to remove your cat quickly from the ground, such as when encountering an off-leash dog, you can do so by placing them on your shoulders as a means of removing them from immediate danger. If they are already used to being on your shoulders, they are less likely to panic and try to escape.
The main reason we recommend adding shoulder riding into your catventurer's training is for safety. If you are faced with a situation where you need to remove your cat quickly from the ground, such as when encountering an off-leash dog, you can do so by placing them on your shoulders as a means of removing them from immediate danger.
The ability to shoulder train your cat will depend on the physical abilities of both you and your cat, as well as your cat's personality. Shoulder cats tend to be physically strong with able balance, are confident and sociable and like to be close to you, especially your face. They also like to view the world from up on high, from your vantage point, without the restraints of being held in your arms. Seeking high places is a natural biological instinct in felines, who use behaviour for hunting, protection and survival in the wild.
Not all catventurers can be shoulder trained but if you can, we recommend encouraging it. Some cats will do it naturally, some will require training with positive reinforcement such as clicker training, treats and affection and some may not take to it at all. Some may stand on one shoulder or with one set of paws on each shoulder or some may prefer to drape themselves across your shoulders. Some may do all of the above. You may wish to train your catventurer to jump up onto your shoulders or they may simply stay there if you choose to place them there.
Training to shoulder ride from a young age is almost always the most successful for both kitty and human but cats of any age can be taught to ride on your shoulders. Check out this helpful video from Albert and outdoor Bengal Mia for tips on how to train your catventurer using clicker training and positive reinforcement.
If you want to have your cat riding on your shoulders but for whatever reason either you or your catventurer are struggling with it physically, there are specialised, custom made 'Pet Perches' available that can help with shoulder training or carrying your cat on your shoulders. These may be particularly useful for older or less agile cats, or heavier cats. They contain bolsters that increase the surface area where your cat can perch on your shoulders, as well as help protect your shoulders from sharp claws! If you decide to trim your cat's claws, the goal is to find a balance between reducing scratches and allowing your catventurer to successfully and safely grip onto your shoulders.