Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Will Work For NOM NOM

Once upon a time, many years ago, I attempted to train Ollie to do “tricks.” I wasn’t really sure what sort of tricks, per se, which may have been my problem from the get-go. Ollie was pretty receptive to training at first. Hey, a little Velveeta goes a long way. We were starting to learn the command “touch,” but then a pair of foster kittens entered the mix, I got really busy at work, ad nauseum, and our training sessions came to an end.

However…after reading “Cats are trainable — and that’s not a punchline” on msnbc.com today, I have been inspired to start it up again! Melissa Chan, behavior specialist at the Houston SPCA Chan sold me on cat training when I read this:
“Having your cat touch your hand with its nose on command is one of the easiest behaviors to train,” Chan says. If you hold out your hand, most cats will naturally sniff it. Reward with a treat until the cat is doing it every time you present your hand. Then, start repeating a word like “touch” every time.

This trick can then be used to get the cat to move where you want it by placing your hand in the desired spot. “You can use it to ask them to get off the couch, or teach them to jump through a hoop by putting the hand on the other side of the hoop,” Chan says.
Have you guys heard of Kitten Kindergarten at the Houston SPCA? Check this out! This photo shows kitTEENs learning to socialize and play with other cats during a kitten kindergarten class at the Houston SPCA in Houston, Texas.

Let the games begin! This time, I’ll work with Theo, since he’s the smarter of the two. (Not to worry, Ollie excels in other areas, such as sleeping, napping and loafing.) Here’s my game plan:

1. Sit
2. Stay
3. Come here (We're 80% there.)
4. Jump
5. Flop

I think teaching Theo one trick a week sounds feasible, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime

Do your cats perform any tricks?

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