The Trainable Cat
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
I think 99% of my cat-owning friends don't believe that cats are trainable. I've had friends send me "Cat Training" memes that show cats not responding to cues, or laugh when I tell them I am reading a book about cat training (I think they assume it's in the Humor category). My friends often shrug that "That's how cats are", and they rely on "NO! Get off the table!", spraying water, scruffing, or force-petting to feel like they have some sort of control over their cats' behaviors.
Aversive methods have been normalized, like in the dog world. (The dog world is changing though!)
Well, I don't want to scare my cats. I love that they are opening up, becoming braver, doing more things, feeling more comfortable with me. I don't want to fuck anything up.
My cats are really sensitive and "skittish". I have done a bit of clicker training with Mambo because he is so food-motivated, but with Shimmy it's so hard. It has been five months and I feel like I am still at around 6/10 on her trust scale. On good days, it's 7/10. (Everybody else is at 2/10). All it takes is one footstep sound from upstairs or outside to ruin a training session and off she runs to hide and not eat.
These are my very messy notes from "The Trainable Cat" by Sarah Ellis (Larter) and John Bradshaw. I also listened to the audio book. Cat drawings are of Mambo and Shimmy.
I also recently had a consult with Mary at BehaviorVetsNYC.com and one of my failings is that I am not playing with Mambo and Shimmy often enough. Mary said I should be playing with them for at least 30 minutes per day. 30 MINUTES! I think it's 5 minutes per day so far.
It's so easy to walk a dog for 30 minutes per day (or longer), right? Why do you think it's so hard to hold a toy and move it really slowly for 30 minutes per day?