Dodgy dog training

The dog training isn’t going very well.

The Terrible Two come running when I arrive home – but only when I call their names. They don’t seen to understand, or show any willingness to understand “off” and “down” and they will not be bribed with commercial treats.

They are siblings – a male and a female from the same litter.

The boy did manage to go fetch a ball of foil when I rolled it across the kitchen floor for him three times in succession the other day, but he hasn’t repeated it since.

But, as people keep reminding me, this is all because they are not dogs. It’s been put to me quite robustly that I might be expecting a bit much of tabby kittens.

Leo, the male, is a big green-eyed purring machine who is very trusting and partial to having his spotty tum tickled.

Lily, the mutant moggy,  is a dwarf, half big brother’s size – with extra toes on each paw, which makes her look as though she’s pattering about wearing mittens or those socks with individual toes.   She really does look as though she is four weeks younger than big bro and I suppose, it’s possible, as I was told, that the litter was a result of two matings at two different times so she really might be a lot younger but the jury’s out on that one. I think she’s just a bit runty.

She’s a pocket huntress – inquisitive brave and skittish and too busy for a cuddle except when she feels like it.   She surprised me as I sat on the sofa last evening by laying a soft paw on my shoulder, purring in my ear and touching my cheek with a teeny cold nose before slinking down for a lap nap.

So what’s the dog training thing? Well, I  Googled “dog-like cats” ages ago but it only came up with Maine Coon cats which are both enormous and enormously expensive and the breeders won’t let you have a kitten unless you promise to never let it out. There are other gorgeous breeds that are lush of coat and withering of eye which seem destined to lie regally in cages at cat shows. But deep down, I have always known that if I’m going to own cats at all, they will be tabbies.

Finding images of alluring tabby kittens on the web, I decided to go for “cat-like cats” but attempt to train them in some useful doggy ways. I don’t need to be told that this will all go badly, that cats are not dogs and I should forget it all right now. It’s an experiment and I’m enjoying learning just how different kittens  and puppies actually are.

For a start, you generally know where a young puppy is. Always having had English Springer Spaniels, they are either around your feet waiting for a play, cuddle, food or they are snortling gently in their beds, paws and nose twitching as the dream their puppy dreams.

He greets you with utter joy in the morning “Hey!! It’s YOU!!! Whoooppee! Great! Thank goodness. Now what? Go on then. Go on.. Now what? Whooo! Play? Food?  BRILLIANT!!”

This is repeated whenever you return from anywhere – the next room, the loo, outside. This is repeated throughout his life, in fact, unless doggo is lying in the garden with a fresh bone, in which case he stays put and his eyes say  “Busy right now. Later.”

Leo certainly comes to greet me first thing in the morning and when I arrive home from work. But he tends to say “Oh there you are” in laconic tone.” nuzzle nuzzle “so…what have you got? Thought about breakfast/lunch/dinner?” and parades around on my lap while Lily skitters around crazily and then does flying Spiderman leap at my calf with all paw crampons extended and climbs agonisingly up my leg leaving small bleeding puncture wounds.  Even when reclining on my lap, she keeps a watchful eye on things as if to say “Make a fuss by all means but I’m still On Duty.”

They just started fighting again. Leo has headlocked Lily but she’s kicking him in the face with both back feet. I really need Ken Walton to commentate. She claws him in the eye but he seems not to notice and no damage is done. They part and perform flying ninja jumps at each other, clashing in midair and Leo dashes off to hide in the washing basket, which is full of holes just big enough to stick a teasing paw through and wave about – just in case she hasn’t gathered where he’s hiding. He needn’t bothered.  She’s stalking him from above on the kitchen worktop. If this was a cartoon, Lily would even now be dropping a black weight marked “TON” on Leo’s head.

And so it goes on. Fighting like cat and cat, rolling, wrestling, playing, until they find me  conveniently situated for a warm snooze. If I’m at the desk, Lily has my lap and Leo is sprawled luxuriously between keyboards, his head on the side of my laptop, purring loudly. Lily purrs too but she is muted – like a geiger counter someone’s concealed beneath a pile of pillows in a wardrobe.   Ridiculous, really.

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About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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15 Responses to Dodgy dog training

  1. How lovely! Leo has fabulous colouring and Lily’s extra toe does look like she has mittens on 😀

    How old are they?

    You do have the ability to influence the type of cats they grow up to become and, although you can’t train them like a dog, I’ve been able to ‘train’ mine to come when I call or rattle a box of treats in about 95% of all cases. Admittedly, they might only come to the other side of the fence and refuse to come through immediately in spite of bribing, pleading and cross words about 30% of the time.

    Also, you mustn’t let their tummies rule you getting up in the morning so don’t feed them as the first thing you do otherwise they’ll try to encourage you to get up with a wet nose rubbed across your cheek and paw in the eye.

    You are in for so much fun! More photographs and updates are required please.

  2. janh1 says:

    Hi Sophie, they are 12 weeks this weekend. Just had their first jabs today. Boosters in three weeks and then the big wide world. Doubt they will come when called then but I can but try! 🙂

    I put the kettle on first thing and make tea, Sophie. They are next though.

    I’ve got more pics but they are blurred because they are generally on the move or trying to play with the camera strap. Will keep trying.

  3. IsobelandCat says:

    How lovely!
    Cat responds to the sound of my keys outside. He does understand ‘no!’ but has selective memory.
    I love Leo’s spotty tum.
    Have you tried them with screwed up windows out of window envelopes? They make a nice crackly sound.

    • janh1 says:

      Leo stuck his paw into a glass of water on my desk earlier and, satisfied it was water, stuck his head in started lapping it up!

      Thanks for the window envelope tip! Almost anything is fun for them at the moment. Takes me ages to detach two kittens from my trainer laces every time I take them on or off.

  4. Putting the kettle on may not take sufficient time for them to understand that its your timetable that’s being followed………

    I am still ridiculously over protective of my two and only let them out on their own when they were a year old – that was after a phased release programme of big dog crate on the grass, being walked with harnesses round the garden and then on a push me/pull you (and frequently wrapped around something and unable to move) basis with their harnesses tied together.

    I have a lot of photos of the Kittens blurry or asleep at this stage too 😀

  5. janh1 says:

    More blurry photos here http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/janh555/2010_08_15#

    Mine should be able to go out in a month. I just hope they get on with the cats who live next door!

  6. It looks like the best pictures are of Leo – the black and white pictures of them sitting on the chair show how handsome he is going to be and I do like his disembodied head.

    I’ve added a post to my site with photos of the phased release programme I employed. When you let them out, as kittens, they may be tolerated more than an adult cat. Just be careful they don’t get spooked and run away.

    Mackenzie was scared by the kids next door on his 3rd escape from the garden. Luckily I was there when it happened and was able to chase after him. He ended up about 300 yards away up sat on somebody’s fence and wouldn’t come down for 10 minutes. If I’d not seen where he had gone, I would have been very lucky to have seen him again as he was just running blind (and seeing as he is so adorable, his finder would have snaffled him collar and chip or not :-D).

    Also, if you’re thinking of a cat flap, the Pet Porte is very good. It works on their microchip so you won’t get all the local cats coming in.

  7. Jan says:

    Thanks for the cat flap recommendation. Good idea to have a security door! 🙂

    Our back garden’s not big but it’s surrounded by shrubs and trees so I hope there’ll be enough of interest here to stop them straying initially, anyway.
    Some preliminary supervision may be necessary!

  8. IsobelandCat says:

    Wow, the camera loves those spots and stripes doesn’t it, especially in b&w.

    Leo is the one who will roam. Boys do. And fight. Get him snipped as soon as poss, that’ll mean he doesn’t disappear looking for girls, and end up fighting over them, resulting in looks like a feline Bill Beaumont.

    It amy not stop the fighting all together. Cat was snipped as a kitten and doesn’t understand the girl thing at all. But he’s hot on territory, and believe me, the testosterone still seeps in somewhere.

    If you ever indulge in bottles of wine, keep the corks and thread them on string.

    • Jan says:

      Noooo! I don’t want him looking like Bill Beaumont with catty cauliflower ears!

      They will be back at the vets in three weeks for their boosters and neutering. The vet believes in doing it early and I don’t want runty Lil to be subject to any funny business from big brother.

      I hope that, like Cat, he is hot on territory. Although Cat shares his with fox cubs…I suppose he tolerates them rather than shares 🙂

  9. Ah yes! Be prepared for Leo to have no respect for the fact that Lily is his sister. He’ll probably start humping her in about a month 😀

    The advice I was given was to have Bertha neutered at 5-6 months old but try to hold out till about 8 months old before neutering Mackenzie so that if he ever needed to be catheterised there will be something a little more substantial to insert the catheter in.

    In the end, he got to 7 months before he developed tom cat urine and he was in within a couple of days as the stench was unbearable. It has not stopped him from humping Bertha when the urge takes him though…..

    • Jan says:

      Well Leo will be just about four months when he’s snipped, which I hope will be in time to prevent Lily receiving unwanted attention! 😀

  10. He won’t turn into Bill Beaumont immediately 😀

    Have a look at the pros and cons of early snipping. Lily can cope with the indignity of the attention and Leo won’t really know what he’s doing till he’s about 6 months old (and probably a bit later).

  11. IsobelandCat says:

    The downside in territorial attitude is vet’s bills. Cat has cost me a small fortune down the years. He used to have at least one fight a day. I’d know when he had a new abscess developing because he’d swear at me. He can still force the neighbour’s cat out of the garden through sheer force of personality.
    If there aren’t other intact males around the Bill Beaumont effect is lessened as there are fewer fights to the death about girls.

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