Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Thing #41--Can You Teach a Cat a Trick?

The sleet and snow that were predicted for today came earlier and harder than forecasted. I heard sleet when I woke up at 5:00A.M.; when the alarm went off at 7:00 there was already a good sheet of ice covering everything. No work, no activities out of the house. If I'd known I was going to be stuck inside I would have prepared better with a good book or two!

Today's planned activity was a no-go because of the weather. Looking at my list, I found one that I thought might be good for a laugh. I taught the cats a trick.

After doing some research on teaching cats, I decided to concentrate on "Sit". It sounded pretty easy-- First put the cat on the table at the edge nearest to you, and pet him so he is comfortable. Next, show your cat a reward, then give the command to sit and move the reward back and over his head. As he tips his head back to follow the food, he will sit to keep his balance. When he sits, verbally reward him by saying "sit, good sit" and immediately give him his food reward. The goal is to have your cat respond to the command "sit" without you having to move the food over his head.

In practice, I don't think it worked like the book said. First, although I had identified Jackson as my target kitty, Pepper came running in too when he heard me getting out the treats. I couldn't catch either cat to place him on the island, and neither cat would jump up there, so I sat on the floor. Jackson wouldn't even come close to me, even though I held out a treat for him. Pepper did, so he became the object of the training. He seemed to get the concept right away, and sat on command three different times!

Jackson, though, ran to the laundry room and jumped up on the dryer; after some thought I figured out he's learned to do that right before mealtime. I tried to make him "sit" on top of the dryer, but he wasn't inclined to do it.

Here's a picture of Pepper "performing".

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