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Monday, September 3, 2012

Training Cats (and Dogs), Part 1

Since it's looking more and more like Dink and Envy are going to be permanent residents here, it's way past time to make them a part of the household and that involves Feliaway, (which we've been doing for a while) and making their lives better. By "better" I mean more enriched and incorporated.

I still have a fair amount of resigned resentment about doing this but basically they're nice cats overall and they certainly deserve to have a good life. This whole cat thing also involves getting Artie in particular to stop being an a**hole when he hears the cats scuttling across the floor. I should have done this when I first got him but I kept figuring the two cats would be gone and all we'd have to deal with is laid-back Rufus. I thought wrong. Ten months have passed. It's time to get on the stick.

Frankly, I think "training" a cat is kind of an exercise in frustration and futility.

Socializing, yes. To be sure. Dink and Envy are friendly cats. They have been messed with since they were wee babies. If people come in the house, they are happy to see you and hang out with you. You can brush them and clip their nails with little protest.

Rufus, not so much. He runs away from almost everybody, even the Spousal Unit. who picked him out, by the way. I am the exception. Then he becomes a whiny, "I'm waking you up in the morning because you have to mess with my food bowl" kind of guy. He's very demanding, and it's always on his terms.

Exercising cats? To a large extent, I see the merits and benefits of that!

Getting a cat to use its "hunting skills" to get its food from a cat food toy? Uh, No.

I got an Fun-Kitty Egg-cersizer from my trainer friend, Jen. (I have a lot of respect for and trust in her. So if she says, "Let's do this," I'm going to try it!)

Great, I'll try stuff! It was cheap. Good thing I got it from her because neither the Pet Supplies Plus in Stow or the PetSmart at Chapel Hill had ANY Cat Food Toys. And at both places, they looked at me like I was some crazy broad hallucinating on LSD when I even asked about stuff like that. (I should have called first.) So no second Egg thing. I guess if I'm going to continue trying this, I'll have to get it online.

So we have good news and bad news....

The Bad News (and you can see it on Envy's face) is The Egg has been a huge bust. Alas. Maybe I need more of them but this is what I was afraid of.... none of these cats will eat any kind of food off the bare floor. I tried rattling The Egg, playing with The Big. Look at the picture and you'll see a piece of food right there by Envy's chest. He's looking at it. I even showed it to him! I even tried giving it to him! He gave me the, "Are you f---g crazy, lady?" look. (And yes, cats do use the F word. Frequently. Like no other creature on earth.)

It Was Not Happening.

In the past, even if their food bowls are completely empty, and there are food pieces near the bowl on the floor, they'll remain untouched. Envy did whack at The Egg, I saw them do it, food spilled out on the floor in their room but no interest in eating off the floor. None. Zip. Zilch.

"We are cats, We eat out of bowls, you lowly peasant."

Taking the food bowls up caused a whole bunch of pacing, meowing and restlessness from all three cats. Nobody settled down and took naps in the afternoon which is unusual.. The first night, I took Dink and Envy's food bowl up and put The Egg down. Luckily they didn't cry all night but they also didn't eat. That's not a big deal, going a while without food; she (Dink) in particular is overweight.

I shut Rufus in the basement with his food to give the other cats some time with The Egg. As I said, they even get the Egg at night in their room. The food was not eaten. I tried adding some treats and it's not tempting them, I guess. None of them "do' treats anyway.

When I did try the Egg down in the basement where Rufus' bowls and the other litter box is, there was one huge pile of kitty food throw-up next to the Egg with food pieces in it. I think one of them may have tried it but I wonder if eating the food off the basement floor made them sick. There's no way to really clean that floor safely for animals..... it's concrete. I guess I could move food and water up to the first floor, not sure where to put it though.

The Good News: Dink and Envy enjoy playing with a laxer light a lot. Marty's really good at it and he gets them going. It's pretty funny! I'll play with a feather toy up in their room and then give them a bit of wet food afterwards. Rufus has no interest in the laser light, it actually kind of freaks him out. But we did get him to play with a feather toy for a few minutes Friday and Saturday. That was kind of cool!

We have clear French doors from the den (dog area) to the dining room which has for months had a curtain over the windows. I did this because I got tired of having a**hole, fixated dogs staring, barking, carrying on at the French doors all damn day long.

Upon Trainer Jen's advice, I did the "curtain up" thing while Marty played with a cat toy in the dining room, All Elke cared about was that I had treats, Artie was super fixated on the cats in the other room because they were being active, so I c/t'ed every time he turned his head away. I started by saying his name, then c/t the moment he turned away from the French Doors. I didn't do it long, about 5 minutes then I closed the curtain. At first he didn't want much to do with treats at all, "OHMYGOD, THERE ARE CAT-things THERE! WHOOOOA, WHEEEE!"

Meanwhile Elke is practically pooping her silly self with excitement at the mere suggestion of FOOD!!

The cats are evil. All cats are evil, I'm convinced. They come by the den door in the kitchen. Any self-respecting dog is going to KNOW they're out there. Consequently Artie's still really fixated by the den door, he jumps up but it usually starts with Elke's "boof-roo-roo-roo" bark B.S. And that can be anything from she hears Marty messing around to she hears the cats or something "not right." It seems like she starts stuff and then he gets all wound up.

Not sure how to fix that one, because it's mostly her. At first. Interesting.

This is gong to be a long, relatively sucky process. But it could be so much worse. So far, we don't have cats spraying and horrible crap like that.

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