Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cat Training, 3 and 2

I train my cats.  Not to use the litter box.  If they don't know that when they arrive in this house, there is no hope.  But since I am a frustrated dog owner I train the cats to do tricks.  Just simple ones like sit and shake. A smart cat can speak and help himself to a treat.  I use behavior shaping and persistence and rewards to achieve the desired results.  Similar to training a dog, only with less trust and love, and more over and over and over again.  I could teach you how to train your cat to sit and shake because most cats in my experience can do those tricks, but I won't bore you.  There is not a big market for trick cats.

The training I am most proud of is handling behavior issues.  Our cats live with us, they sleep with us, they sit on my husband's lap and are fed very expensive food continually.  But sometimes an undesirable behavior crops up.  Then what do you do?  Get rid of the cat?  That is harder to do than you think on a number of levels.

This is what I do.  Look at the behavior.  What is the cause?  Sometimes researching the cause requires a trip to the vet to rule out illness.  But often it is that the cat wants to shape my behavior to do something more or sooner.  Those behaviors are the easiest for me to change.

For example, Rudy, who lives to eat.  He would wake us from sleeping in order to be fed. We have an automatic feeder that feeds him in the night.  He waits in the basement for it and joins us in the middle of the night after he has eaten.

Dodger is old and thin and needs to eat more often so we started feeding him wet food in the morning.  This has led to a behavior issue of being awakened by a cat  who decides that it is time to eat, even if that time is 4:30 in the wee small hours.  We shut him out of the bedroom but he bangs on the door.  Squirting with water would be my first solution, but our cats like to be sprayed with water.  But not perfume.  I have so natural honeysuckle spray.  I open the door and spray.  The cat runs and misses the spray for the most part but also avoids the door because he hates the smell of the perfume.  Problem solved.

If only all the problems in my life were so easily solved. By natural honeysuckle spray.

11 comments:

DandelionMom said...

I am laughing soooo hard at the picture of you lurking inside your bedroom door (I spose you don't really wear a night-cap but it's funnier that way)using all your Charlie's Angel's moves to sneak up and SPRAY a cat!

Here's my question...Rudy wakes you up to eat so you make sure he gets his food when he wants it; Dodger, poor boy that he is, wakes you up to eat and gets the indoor nice-lady version of what skunks do! But Dodger is the skinny one? Poooor Dodger! :D I also wonder if it takes less effort to try to spray him than to just open the can? In my house I would just have a kid do it. Also...if you spray the outside of your door with the stuff will he stop even asking because he remembers? (the last one was serious :))

Mary said...

He has stopped banging on the door in the middle of the night. The thing is Dodger has access to dry food on his shelf 24/7. Rudy only gets dry food in his feeder. It is the wet food that Dodger wants and he gets that twice a day. But not at 4:30 am. It is the 4:30 am I object to and I realize that you and ABM might still be up blogging at that hour or you might be saving a lamb or something, but, me, I would rather be sleeping.

abroadermark said...

Could you send me some of that spray, Mary? I'm going to see if I can use it to train my kids to stop asking for breakfast before I want to get up in the morning.

Just curious, but DO you wear a nightcap to bed? And can you do Charlie's Angels moves?

Tami said...

Okay, Dandelionmom's ideas of Mary doing Charlie's Angels karate moves in the night is making me laugh so hard! Personally I would have to be very careful. I'm clumsy. With my luck I'd trip over something I'd left on the floor, and break a leg.
ABM,
Let me know if the spray works on kiddos. I have a few annoying behaviors I'd like to work out here too.

Mary said...

Banana clip in the hair in case I am asked to dance. I do Charlie's Angels moves when I trip over the (can I say dang?) cats. And I think about a recipe for cat stew whenever that happens. (And no, not with mice to feed the cats.)

DandelionMom said...

oooo an up-doo! snazzy! Except how do you amnage the classic Charlie's Angel's hair-toss with it up in a clip?? I simply must know-you need to leap into the room and then toss your hair before pointing your gun/spray and yelling freeze! Over here the mere act of me leaping would take care of any problem-every one would freeze in fear at such action!

Mary said...

Stealth. Like the Man from Uncle. Stealth. That is how you sneak up on a cat who is banging on your bedroom door. Stealth.

abroadermark said...

Who cares about the hair toss! How the heck do you SLEEP with a banana clip in your hair? And have you ever been asked to dance in the middle of the night? I have, but we call it something different here. Wink, wink.

Jo said...

I leave food our for my two cat/kitten and I am surprised at how much they do eat in the middle of the night. Ruby (the ragdoll) - also loves her food.

Mary said...

Thank you for the appropriate comment, Jo. Rudy and Ruby sound like a match (except for the ragdoll part and the girl part).

abroadermark said...

I suspect the "appropriate comment" comment is meant for me. Am I right, Mary E.? :D