Cat agility is a sport in which a handler directs or lures a cat through an obstacle course as quickly as possible. Dog agility was originally loosely modeled on equestrian stadium jumpers competitions when it debuted as spectator entertainment 25 years ago. Since then, it has become the most rapidly growing dogs sport in Western Europe and North America.
Cat aficionados hope agility will develop and become widely popular, with spectators getting caught up watching the cat and handler’s enthusiasm in their athletic race around the course.
Good agility cats have the qualities to make happy, healthy companion cats. The most successful cats in agility competition will love to play, have an outgoing personality, and be in excellent physical condition. An agility course is like a playground to a cat.
Displaying cats’ physical ability at its most beautiful and the connection between the cat and handler are the primary focus of ICAT cat agility contests.
- Self Confidence: Can your cat handle new situations calmly, and enjoy investigating new things? Are new people interesting to your cat? Your agility cat should be interested in agility, love running, jumping and climbing, and generally be interactive with the people, cats and objects in its environment. Shy cats may enjoy playing at home, but may be limited in their ability to have fun and enjoy agility at shows.
- Motivation: One of the primary motivators for dogs is food, but for cats, it is play. Isn’t that wonderful? Play with your cats, run them around the house, and if they do something well, reward them with praise, or a very small tidbit of food, but mostly praise and love. Praise and love at home will keep up the focus level in the agility ring. Clicker-training to follow a target stick is very effective.
- Athletic Ability: In order to negotiate the obstacles on an agility course, a cat needs good overall health, stamina, conditioned lean weight, and an energetic outlook on life.
- Training: Once you’ve determined your cat has the right temperament and physical condition for agility, ICAT (International Cat Agility Tournaments) recommends “clicker training” your cat and getting it accustomed to the handling obstacles, where mistakes are ignored and the cat gets rewards, usually praise, for what it does correctly. Some research suggests that handling kittens each day during the first month of their lives improves learning ability, so start loving them early!
- “Cat Years”: ICAT agility competitions are for cats 8 months of age or older, when they have reached the equivalent of their young teenage years. Kittens 4 to 8 months old may practice on the basic level course, but not compete. Cats will age 10 years in the first six months of their life. In the next six months, they will age five more, bringing the total number of “cat years” to 15 in their first year of life. After this initial age spurt, you can expect your cat to age four years for every year of its life. So if your cat is three years old in “people years,” it is 23 years old in “cat years.”
Rabbit Agility is much like dog or cat, yes even rat agility only the equipment is made smaller for a rabbit and stable enough for the rabbit’s weight while. Rabbits learn to run an agility course just as a dog, rat or cat might.
Agility is fun and exciting for the animals, handlers and spectators. You can now see cats, rats, rabbits, as well as dogs, and other animals running agility course for fun and in competition.
Domestic Rabbits can be very affectionate and intelligent animals. Rabbits can be taught tasks, tricks and behaviors. People are finding what clean, intelligent and affectionate animals rabbits are. Many people are keeping rabbits as pets, some people even have house rabbits that use a litter box, so Rabbit Agility as well as other sports and activities with pet rabbits are becoming more popular.
What Is Rabbit Hopping?
Rabbit agility is different from rabbit hopping. Rabbit hopping is also called rabbit jump/jumping and show jumping. Rabbit agility is usually done off leash on a course of many types of agility equipment that the rabbit manipulates by going over, under around or through. Rabbit hopping/jump/jumping is one or a series of jumps that the rabbit hops over. The rabbit is kept on leash for these events and is encouraged to jump far and high. Rabbit hopping or sometimes called rabbit jumping is very popular in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and Germany where competitions can be found about every week end and may have as many as 200 rabbit participants. The lengths and heights that the rabbits jump are amazing.
At first glance rabbit agility and rabbit hopping look to be much the same sport. They are in fact different sports. In rabbit agility the animal learns to manipulate many types of agility equipment, many fashioned after dog agility equipment. The rabbits learn to go over, under, around and through the different pieces. Rabbits are worked on or off leash depending on the individual events rules or if the course is fenced or not.
What Breed Is Best For Competition?
Like dog agility, any size or breed of dog can participate. Tiny dog breeds as well as giant dog breeds may manipulate the equipment (made for their size) well, but would not have the speed to win at a competition. The same is true of rabbits. However, because the smaller rabbit breeds are the most popular as pets, you will see many of them competing in rabbit agility and rabbit hopping.
There are a few breeds that would not be good, in our opinion, for rabbit agility or rabbit hopping.
An English Lop with huge ears would not be able to manipulate the agility equipment well. It’s ears would likely get caught in some of the pieces of equipment, or it could step on it’s own ears while running and turning, the rabbit could be seriously injured.
The Angora or Wool/Long Haired breeds would more then likely be a mess by the time they finished an agility run on an outdoor course. Their wool will pick up leaves, sticks and other matter. Trained and competing indoors some Angoras may well out do other breeds.
Hairless Rabbits would likely get cold or hot at an event. They also would not have the fur to protect them while running through the courses.
The Giant breeds may not do well as Rabbit Hoppers because the constant jolts to their joints would be hard on their health. However with the correct sized agility equipment and only a few jumps they may do well at rabbit agility.
The more active and racier breeds would be a better choice for rabbit agility or even rabbit hopping competitors. Many people prefer rabbits about or just under 7 pounds.
Rat Agility is much like dog or cat agility only the equipment is rat sized. Fancy or Pet Rats are very affectionate and intelligent animals. They are as far removed from their wild cousins as a wolf is from a dog. Rats can be taught tasks, tricks and behaviors.
More and more people are keeping rats as pets so Rat Agility just makes sense. And, the equipment for rats is easier to transport and to build and store then the equipment for dogs and cats.
When it comes to Rat Agility, it seems that the animals love the equipment, the tasks and the fuss made over them for doing it as well as any treats they may earn… but mostly they love spending time and interacting with their trainer.
It is highly recommended that you work with your rats at home before entering into rat agility competition. You can make “make shift” agility equipment that won’t cost much more then a couple of dollars and a bit of your time.
Your rat will not only do better in competition if you practice at home, but will be more comfortable in competition if it is familiar with the equipment and what is expected of the rat to do.
You may well be surprised how easy it is to train a rattie to do agility.