When I got the kittens as a birthday present to myself two years ago, I thought I’d try dog-training them.
I’d been a dog person all my life, specifically an English Springer Spaniel person, so I thought it’d be interesting to see how far you could go with cat training.
All that stuff that people told me about cats; that they are selfish, aloof, natural-born killers who merely share living space with you has turned out to be wrong. Those people have probably never owned cats – or if they have they didn’t take much notice of them or maybe they just had different cats to mine (probably the most plausible explanation.)
Like dogs, they understand a range of commands – they just choose whether they want to obey now or in 20 minutes or so when the intimate areas have been thoroughly washed.
Like dogs, they lie in wait for you to come home and greet you vocally with miaows that sound to the trained ear rather like “allo.” Lily has mastered a “eh-oow” greeting which is as close to “Hello” as she’s ever going to get. These greetings are cuter that deafening barking but not as cute as a vigorously wagging tail and slobbery dog-smiles. Tell you what *is* cute though… it’s the way you can put your head close to a sleeping cat and from the depths of slumber he will start purring…
Just like dogs, cats want to occupy your space when you’re sitting down doing stuff. Unlike dogs, who are trained to stay on the floor, a cat will invade your space in an outrageously overt manner. It will purr ingratiatingly and knead the paperwork on your desk into a useless rumple. It will scratch against the edge of your laptop and then twist upside down inviting a tummy tickle. Fat Lily keeps butting my hands with her head as I type to make her point “Why are you doing that when you could be giving me a god-just-keep-doing-it headscratch?
Cats take all kinds of liberties, like walking along the back of the sofa, nuzzling your neck and walking down your body from your shoulders. They kind of know you’re not going to shout at them. I mean, who can shout at a cat? Oh yes, me, occasionally but only when Fat Lily is using the stair carpet as a scratching post.
Sounds : Scratch-scratch-scratch
Me: “STOPPIT LILY!” scratch-scratch-scratch
Me: “LILY! STOPPIT!” scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch-scratch
Lily (thinks): Finished now.
Just like dogs they make the house filthy. Leo rose from his napping spot on the armchair the other day and left two wood mulch chippings, three bit of fine gravel, a broken leaf and a lot of dust and cat hair. You can’t even wipe their paws because when it’s raining and they shoot through the catflap like muddy-pawed Exocet missiles without touching the pricey, Amazingly Absorbent doormat, planting filthy footprints all over the floors, furnishings and windowsills.
Like dogs, they come when they are called. “TREEEEATS” yelled at moderate to max volume gets Leo and Fat Lily into the kitchen from a quarter mile radius. It will even…and cat owners will know this is pretty remarkable…rouse Fat Lily from sleep on the bed upstairs. I hear her crash to the floor with a thud and stump rapidly down the stairs before collecting herself to make the traditionally feline “frankly my dear, I couldn’t give a damn!” entrance to the kitchen.
Dog-like, Leo hangs around when there’s anything decent being prepared for dinner – roast, or ham or cheese. He’ll sit and he’ll beg on command, but unlike a dog he puts his paws up to pull your hand towards his mouth – just in case you were about to make the mistake of thinking you might withdraw that tasty morsel at the last minute.
Just like a dog, Lily will chase and retrieve her brown mouse toy. But only that one, Just don’t even think she’ll go fetch one of the other toys. Oh no.
The big deal difference is that compared to the largely confined life of a pet dog, a cat’s life is free with 24 hour access to the Great Outside World and the secrets that only cats know.
So there is really no point in continuing training. It’s done. They are fully formed creatures who now choose their life. If they want to leave, they will. But the nicest thing about having cats is that in spite of the adventures in the outside world, they will still come back to you at home, walk all over your desk and try to tell you all about it.
Such a shame I can’t understand a single word of what they say…
Leo. Not over-impressed with my new bike light.
Keeping an eye on the cooking situation