Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Getting easier to herd cats these days...

I came across this great article on L.A. Unleashed about the increasing interest in cat obstacle courses and agility contests gaining a bit of interest. In all seriousness, nothing could be better for cats than to have articles like these come to light.

Why? Because perhaps as people read how truly trainable cats can be, perhaps that will help dispel one more fallacy that tends to contribute to their second-class pet status. Cats are trainable --- always have been. As nearly any cat owner can tell you, we train cats all of the time in indirect ways, some of which come back to bite us humans in our proverbial hineys.

Note how feeding a cat just after you’re up in the morning eventually becomes you feeding the cat first thing in the morning so they will stop…all…the…meowing. Or how feeding them first thing in the morning means that your precious baby begins “mentioning” that the sun’s about to rise again, paying no heed to such distinctions as weekday versus weekend and holiday mornings? Of course they don’t. We taught them that our getting up means they get fed, and that’s the only part of the training they are remotely interested in.

Training cats isn’t nearly the task people think it to be. It is, however, a different task than training dogs. I have yet to meet the person who can compel a cat to do anything by force. Cats simply aren’t wired that way. To train a cat is to find a way to make it completely advantageous for the cat to be trained.

Food helps. The better the food, the greater the help. Sounds help, too. There is increasing evidence that cats can be as responsive to clicker training as dogs, as this 2008 article from Christie Keith illustrates. Makes sense, as pairing sound with high-value food is what gave the can opener its reverential place in the kingdom of cat.

Take a peek at the video. Think your cat might be ready to take it to the next level?

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