Have you ever heard people express the opinion that it is impossible to train cats? Well, I beg to differ.. Obviously, you have to train the cats in a) the right way and b) the right things. The right way varies depending on what motivates them and as to what the right things are – well, if they involve too much effort for too little reward, forget it – it ain’t going to happen.
In our kitty household there are two types of training:
1) Training cats to do things we want them to do
2) Training cats to NOT do things that we DON’T want them to do
And funnily enough, the first one is a lot easier than the second one.. As an example we have trained all the cats to be calm when we pick them up. That is fairly easy, especially if you start when they are young. Simply never put them down when they struggle. Ever. At all. Wait until they are calm – then put them down. Ulysses has been especially well trained in this. When he was a kitten, I would promptly pick him up and hand him to any visitor that walked through the door – and while my visitor was holding this Persian kitten (often with a slightly bemused expression on their face), I would explain the rules of holding him until he stopped struggling. Result: pretty much anyone can pick him up at anytime and he puts up with it – and even throws his paws around their neck if they are tall ( he is VERY afraid of heights…) and clings on for dear life.
As for teaching them not to do things they aren’t supposed to do – well, this works best when we are around.. The kitchen counters are a great example. Ulysses – never on them (afraid of heights, remember?). Penny – well, occasionally I find very LARGE muddy paw prints on them in the morning – a bit of a give away – but she is never on them when we are around. The mittens? Well, we are still working on that one.. Just 5 minutes ago I came downstairs only to find Izabelle smugly sitting on the countertop next to the Aga. Good View From Here, she commented, Toasty Warm, Too! All the while starting at my with wide open innocent eyes – Lost Little Kitty, she beseeched, Surely Can Stay?? Needless to say, the answer was a resounding NO…
When we have visitors for dinner, it becomes quite interesting. We will be having a calm and polite conversation over the dinner table, I will catch a mitten jumping up on a counter top in the utility room and will immediately SCREAM something extremely rude (in Danish – handy that..) and very, very loud, cat will jump down and I will turn around to continue the conversation, only to find the visitor frozen with the expression of a deer caught in the headlights, obviously having no clue as to what is going on (not being tuned into cats on the countertop the way we are), what has been said (which is probably a good thing..) or what they have done to deserve being shouted at. At which point I go ‘Erm…’ and have to explain the house rules. Coming to think of it, maybe that is why people who have been to dinner at our house tends to think of me as being potentially a person that they don’t want to upset. Ever.
As for the cat in question? Well, they roll their eyes and go *Sheesh*…There She Goes Again..Never Allowing Us Any Fun…