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Coursing Ability Test (CAT)

About Coursing Ability Test (CAT)

The Coursing Ability Test (CAT), created by the American Kennel Club (AKC), broadens the scope of Lure Coursing to include dogs beyond the traditional sighthound breeds. This exciting sport celebrates inclusivity, allowing any breed (and mixed breed) to participate in activities that provide equal parts exercise and excitement.

Unlike typical competitive sports, CAT emphasizes the individual’s performance, with a focus on each dog’s enthusiasm and ability to chase a lure. This approach makes CAT a unique test of instinct and agility, where the assessment is based on the ability to complete a course enthusiastically and without interruption. As a non-competitive, pass/fail event, CAT assesses dogs independently, valuing their natural coursing instinct rather than comparing them against one another.

CAT Overview:

  • Objective: The Coursing Ability Test (CAT) tests a dog’s instinct to chase a lure, which in this case is an artificial object. It’s designed to mimic traditional coursing but in a non-competitive, pass/fail format.
  • Course Setup: A CAT event typically includes a 600-yard course for most dogs and a 300-yard course for dogs shorter than 12 inches at the withers and brachycephalic breeds. For veteran dogs, shorter courses are also available.
  • Time Limit: Dogs must complete the 300-yard course in less than 1-1/2 minutes, and the 600-yard course in less than 2 minutes.


  • Eligibility: CAT is open to all dogs over 12 months of age, including purebreds and mixed breeds registered in AKC’s Canine Partners program.
  • Physical Fitness: Dogs must be in good health and physically capable of completing the course. This is checked by officials to ensure the safety and well-being of the participating dogs.
  • Registration: Dogs need to be registered with the AKC, and owners must complete an official AKC entry form for each dog and event.
  • Rulebook: Coursing Ability Test (CAT) and Fast CAT® Regulations

History of Coursing Ability Test (CAT)

The Coursing Ability Test (CAT) is a relatively modern addition to the world of dog sports. Its inception marked a significant shift in the landscape of canine activities, expanding the sport of Lure Coursing significantly by welcoming all dogs beyond the traditional sighthounds.

The sport of Lure Coursing, from which CAT evolved, has its origins in the hunting practices of dogs that hunt by sight. Traditionally, those breeds were used for their ability to spot and chase game using their eyes rather than their nose and/or ears. This practice later transformed into a sport where dogs chase a mechanically operated lure, simulating the hunting experience in a controlled environment. The initial purpose of these activities was to test and enhance the natural instinctive behaviors of these breeds.

As interest in dog sports grew, the AKC recognized the potential to involve a more diverse group of dogs in these activities. This led to the development of the Coursing Ability Test. Introduced in 2014, CAT was designed to be inclusive, allowing dogs of all breeds to participate in an activity previously reserved for sighthounds. The objective was to offer a fun, stimulating, and healthy activity for dogs and their human companions, serving as an entry-level introduction to the world of dog sports.

The Coursing Ability Test quickly gained popularity among dog owners and sports enthusiasts. Its inclusive nature made it an attractive option for those looking to engage their dogs in physical activity that also catered to their instinctual drive to chase. The non-competitive format of CAT, focusing on a pass/fail outcome rather than ranking or speed, made it accessible to a wide range of dogs and their handlers, regardless of any previous experience in canine competitions.

As the sport grew, it played a significant role in promoting community engagement specifically and education about dog sports in general. It became a platform for owners to learn more about their dogs’ natural abilities and instincts, and it provided an avenue for social interaction and networking among people who simply enjoy having fun with their dogs.

Finding CAT Events

American Kennel Club (AKC)

The American Kennel Club is the main organization which hosts CAT events. This 140-year-old organization offers a comprehensive listing of events on its website, making it easier for dog owners to find local CAT events. AKC also provides resources and information about the rules and regulations of the Coursing Ability Test.

Breed Clubs

Many local and national breed clubs affiliated with AKC host CAT events. These “parent clubs” also provide additional support and resources for newcomers who have a specific breed. They are a great place to connect with other dog enthusiasts and learn more about CAT and other dog sports. Checking with local clubs can help new dog owners find out about future events and other opportunities to get involved with their specific breed​ in a variety of performance, companion, and conformation events.


Coursing Ability Test (CAT)

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May 2024 Vol. 32 No. 5

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