For Christmas I put together a “cat training kit” for the teenager, consisting of a book on how to clicker-train, a training clicker, and bags of cat treats.
He didn’t seem very interested on Christmas, probably because his new electronics trumped the furry playthings, but yesterday he attempted to train Daenerys to jump down from surfaces. Partway into this training I was forced to intervene and train my son how not to put the cat on my tables to train her to jump down, and instead directed him to the washing machine. He was at it for a good half-hour, but gave up after it wasn’t working out. Turns out he didn’t read the book to properly instruct the feline and was just clicking his clicker all over the place and being confusing. Hmm. I may have to read the book to him while he’s playing WiiU.
Curiosity got the best of me, so I read a bit of the book and attempted to train Salem – who isn’t the brightest crayon in the (cat)box – to nose the end of a stick, which could aid in further training (getting him to follow the stick through a hoop, for example). After about a dozen tries, he began to get the idea, but seemed very “Why the hell is this happening?” about it, tilting his head as if amused, yet confused. I thought he might go on and try harder, considering there were treats to be had, but that cat is fat and lazy as hell. The furthest I was able to get him to move was about seven inches to nose that stick. I threw in the towel.
Today I tried a bit more with Daenerys, who apparently is much brighter than Salem and more interested in the stick. I just wish she had more of an interest in the treats. She nosed the stick every time I prompted her to, and I’d click each time she nosed it so she’d learn to associate that sound with treats, then I’d immediately give her a treat. But instead of inhaling the treat in a split millisecond and anxiously looking around for another one, like Salem, Daenerys would take her sweet time with little bites and crumb cleanup. And just as we were heavily getting into it and Daenerys was really catching on? BAM! I clicked and dropped her a treat, and out of NOWHERE Salem came skidding around the corner, body-slammed Daenerys out of the way, and sucked up her treat! I guess he finally associated the sound of the clicker with rewards.
So I put him in the Eeth’s room and shut the door so I could continue to train Daenerys in the living room. She nosed the stick, I clicked, I dropped her a treat and BAM! Salem body-slammed her out of the way and ganked her treat again.
What the fuck?
I put Salem back in Eeth’s room and closed the door.
Daenerys nosed the stick, I clicked, I dropped her a treat, and BAM!
I put Salem back. I told Eeth to quit opening the door because Salem was bullying us. But he told me he hadn’t opened the door at all. Huh?
So I put him in the Eeth’s room and shut the door so I could try again to train Daenerys in the living room. She nosed the stick, I clicked, I dropped her a treat and BAM! Ugh!
I put him back in the room and closed the door, but this time I didn’t go anywhere. I clicked. A giant black paw slid under the door and yanked it open! And I glared at him, and he looked at me with eyes so big and “oh shit”, it was obvious he knew he’d been caught. I put him in the garage instead. And then I decided I should move on and do something constructive today, like blog.
And something dawned on me: It took me THIS long to realize why Salem is so fat and the other two cats are so thin. And I feel like an idiot. They get fed in the garage, and I never watch them while they eat. Clearly, Salem has been stealing food from the girls. So I guess this cat training kit just did double-duty, training me to start feeding the cats separately.
Sorry, Salem… Your reign of feeding time terror ends today.
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