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Showing posts with label training human. Show all posts
Showing posts with label training human. Show all posts

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Ways for a cat to exercise its human.


Dear George,
As much as I loved reading your book One hundred ways for a cat to train its human, I’m surprised that you never pointed out some ways for a cat to exercise its human.
I’m saying this since I’m in much need of your help in this regard. You know that most indoor cats are called “couch potatoes” but, in my case…the couch potato is my human daddy and I’m really worried about his lack of exercise.
I tried to set up examples for him but I think I must do something wrong since he is not responsive to any… such as:
  • Climbing up the curtains.
  • Climbing up and scratching the door frames
  • Jumping from the book case's highest shelf down on his desk.
I even tried the fishing rod and hanging from the chandelier with no success!
To all these excellent examples (in my opinion) he just stares at me in some sort of amazement! Do you think there is something wrong with him? Am I not clear enough in my intentions? George, please tell me how I can train him to exercise more.
Yours truly
Dumi 

Dear Dumi,
In training any animal, it is important to realise that each species has its quirks and particularities. You can only train humans to do what comes naturally to them. For instance you can't train them to scent or hear the location of a mouse. Their noses and their ears are too weak for that.
Exercise is difficult too, as humans are naturally indolent. They will spend hours staring at a screen and only drastic measures such as lying on the keyboard will successfully get their attention towards you.  So first, you have to get their attention.
Even the stupidest of humans usually notice climbing up the curtains and your other activities. Most will spring into action in a vain rescue attempt (either to rescue your or the curtains!). I fear you may have adopted a human nerd, halfwit or a dingbat, as Oz cats call them. These humans are to be pitied not punished. It is not their fault they lack the ability to understand us properly.
You will have to accept that you cannot change him. Don't cease your activities, as this is good exercise for you. One of my achievements was to rip out all the lining from a pair of curtains: it was a truly satisfying achievement - as you can see from the photo on the right.
Yours
George.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Why are these cats pressing a bell? And who's in control?

Dear George,
I’ve been a long time follower of your blog but being very shy by nature I never got the courage to write or post a comment. Lately, as I start coming out of my shell I kind of see the world in a different light – not only more colorful but more playful as well! My humans are more playful and quite happy to entertain me! But what troubles me is one video they keep watching again and again and then…they try to copycat it. Here is the link to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clm826hHxoA  George, please watch it and tell me ….is it just human silliness or what is it that people enjoy so much that they keep bribing us with treats? What exactly is the purpose? I’ve seen videos with Celia apparently training Toby and Tommy (here and here)! Why? Can you explain this to me?
I don’t get it!
Gratefully yours
Princess

Dear Princess,
They only think they are training us. We are training them. This video shows two cats proceeding to a higher level of training. By doing something silly like pressing the bells, they have trained their humans to give them treats. How good is that? Humans think they are training us: we know we are training them.
Most humans cannot be trained to this level. They are too dumb. They simply cannot credit what we cats can do and so they don't even try to respond. They just give us treats for nothing.... but it is sometimes more fun to do something funny to get a treat. The easiest silly-thing-to-do-for-food is to sit up on your hind legs.  Do this near a meal and there is a very good chance indeed you will get something tasty from the table!
From there it is a short step to doing all kinds of antics that will result of food. Try it. It's good food fun, particularly for indoor cats.
Yours
George 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reward and punishment (occasionally) are the key to a good relationship.

Dear George,
I have adopted a new human family - male, female, and two human kittens about half grown and therefore a sensible age. You know my background growing up which turned me into a growling, biting and scratching adolescent.
This is my third home - first the bad one, then with Celia, and now this. Of course, I can adapt. I don't miss Celia at all though I miss the games I had with Toby. Within two days, I was sitting on the male owner's lap and (good news) he was keeping his hands away from interfering with my grooming routine!
So these are sensible humans. I have taught the children that if I sit up and beg or jump over a stick, they must give me food. What else should I do?
Yours
Tommy.

Dear Tommy,
Reward and punishment are the basis of a good cat-human relationship. In the first month of your new home, you should at all costs avoid punishment. This is the time to reward them with cute looks, lots of purring, rubbing and making them feel loved. As Barnum said: "You gotta get the suckers into the tent." These humans need all the reassurance and kindness you can give them so that they form a deep bond with you.
After the first month you can lay down a few boundaries - no interference while I am grooming: no human thrashing about the bed I allow you to share: if you use your hands to play with me you must expect to be nipped; etc. These cat rules will vary from individual to individual and in the second month you should be training them to obey by very small nips. And don't forget to purr when they behave well.
By month three, all four should be trained into proper cat servants. The key is good timing and consistency. Good luck.
Yours
George.
PS. If you need to bite, you haven't made your rules clear to these dumb humans.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is dinner ready?

Dear George, 
We are Ella and Louis – that’s right… as in Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. 
I’m wearing my white coat (as you can see) and Louis (always a gentleman) is wearing his tuxedo.
We are quite like on that 1956 record cover (sorry darling but I forgot the name – we made so many records and shows together).
Anyway, the reason I’m writing to you is because we found out that you are a specialist in human behaviour and we need your help. Our humans got into the “cat homemade food” mania that lately took over the Internet, main stream news, TV, etc. – I mean all media! I’m not complaining about the food, don’t get me wrong – I’m complaining about the timing of our meals! 
See, I want to eat whenever I want ….like a real diva! My Mom is insisting on feeding us twice a day (morning and evening) at precise times. THAT drives me nuts! Absolutely nuts! And to add misery to aggravation….our Daddy is insisting on weighting and measuring everything such as protein, fats, minerals, vitamins, etc. (I think he is a nutritionist but that doesn’t give him the right to delay our meals). George, I’ll be happy with that roast chicken leftover! But, no ….I have to eat scientifically proved meals! 
Phew! So, for now I’m trying to be more vocal (as you can see in the picture attached) and hope my dear Louis will join me. I bet…no matter how much our humans enjoy music…they will give up and feed us right away! 
Any other suggestions George
Meowing on sweet blues notes 
Ella

Dear Ella,
You have got the right idea. Humans are suckers for the cute. Do something cute, like meowing, to get your human's attention. Without that, you can even start training. Once they are looking at you, then you have to "tell" these dumb humans what you want. Try the following:
The Sit Up method of getting food
  •  First cultivate the cute "I'm looking at you, kid" glance upwards - eyes large, whiskers wide, and a little tilt of the head. You may feel frustrated but you need to look cute.
  • Eyes to the food cupboard. Ostentatiously move from looking at him to the food cupboard, adding a little shoulder shift to make it more obvious - humans are not very bright.
  • Get off the table and walk to the food cupboard, then look back towards him. Even a really dumb human usually gets this one.
  • Meow. Follow up by getting off the table and winding round his legs. Then move three steps towards the food cupboard, turn, and do the appealing look. Got his attention? Another three steps towards the food and another look. This form of training by small increments is what is needed for a really dumb human.
  • Finally, when he is moving to get you your food, don't forget the thank you - a very loud purr as you are eating with the occasionally appealing look between mouthfuls. This is to reward him for his trouble.
You can adapt this schedule for being fed human food during human meal times. If you can add a little sit-up-and-beg to it, you may be lucky.
Yours
George.
 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

New Year.... New life.... .. and training a human

Dear George,
 I am Lila (the fluffy) and my sister is Angel (the tabby). We came from same litter and we are about 10 weeks old now. Before being rescued we were living under a deck but now we live in a mansion!  We spent our first Christmas with our new family and their relatives and sure enough people can be fun! At some point they all were talking about New Year’s resolutions. We don’t fully understand what that is but it seems like a good plan to follow in the year ahead! Our list would be very short: sleep, eat, play and getting lots of love from our humans. I also understood that in cats' ‘world it is a MUST to train one’s humans. I’ve heard you even wrote a book on the subject, is that so George? Then, we definitely need your help! Where do we start?
Gratefully yours,  
Lila

Dear Lila,
Start as you mean to go on.  Help your humans settle in to a sensible regime - regular meal times and regular times for sleep. Train them with reminders. Reminders include rubbing, loud purring, winding round feet, walking to the food bowl, even nipping toes under the duvet if they show signs of wanting to lie in at weekends rather than get your breakfast. 
Establish petting boundaries. Some humans are cat harassers. They want to kiss and hug and stroke for hours. Or they insist on petting in no-go areas like the lower tummy. A sharp nip will usually train them to stop. Punishment teaches them what is acceptable. Be humane - just a nip, rather than a bite which draws blood.
Litter trays (one for each cat) should be cleaned twice a day. If your human is idle about this, show them what you want. As soon as they clean the tray, use it. This makes the point that you were waiting for it to be cleaned. If they still don't get the message, and the tray is filthy, pee outside the litter tray. 
You can learn more about rewards and punishments in my book, One Hundred Ways for a Cat to Train its Human. Celia pretended she had written it but her role was purely secretarial, as I cannot type. I was the real author.
Yours
George, the real author. 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mini Me - I have found my new home all by myself.

Dear George, 
I literally woke up the other day in front of a gate! I don’t know how I got there! 
 All I recall is that I was sleeping in my human kitten’s room the night before. 
Why was I left all alone in front of this gate I had no idea! Have I been dumped by my humans? It looked like it! But why? Well, I puffed up my chest and pushed the gate open! Wow! To my complete surprise I’ve met (behind that gate) “my maxi size me” (as you can see in the photo attached). Well, this “Maxi size me” was confused too as he was staring at me like I was his “mini size him”. At this peak of confusion his humans appeared and after few laughs they absolutely adopted me on spot! I felt immediately welcomed into their lives! I soon learned that there are two other cats and a dog living in the house. Everybody is very nice to me so far! But now…what? What should I do?  
What should I expect? And how do I secure my place in their hearts so I won’t be dumped again? 
ME (just “Mini Me”….I don’t have a name yet)

Dear Mini Me, 
Congratulations on a successful pet human adoption. You have chosen your new family all by yourself, as many cats do. You need do no more for the time being - just settle in and relax. Enjoy the food and the warmth - it's cold out there without a house to live in.
Once you feel at ease, it is important to start training your humans and, of course, the dogs. Successful training (of dogs that are used to cats) means standing up for yourself, never retreating, and being ready to give a sharp scratch on the nose if a dog is being difficult. It is essential that the household cats are at the top of the family hierarchy.
Next training the humans. First, work out what you want - do you want to sleep in a lap? is there room on the bed you share with humans or would you prefer the warmth from sharing with one of the dogs? Can you keep your food bowl to yourself without dogs or larger cats interfering? Are there enough litter trays (one for each cat and perhaps one extra)? 
When you get what you want, purr as loud as you can. If that doesn't work, then do something cute. Laughter is always a good human response to cats. So, if your humans have done something you like, reward them with cute behaviour to make them laugh. 
They won't even realise they are being trained. That's the beauty of training humans. They have no idea that we are doing it. Dumb animals indeed!!
Yours
George 

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Indoor plants - a warning to all us cats.

Dear George,
Look at me….don’t I look like a young professional? Of course I do as I just graduated from an Interior Design School!
I’m kidding you not! My only problem is that I’m not that familiar with herbs and plants!
I don’t know which are good for cats and which are not! And that’s a big “no-no” in my business! I know how to set up a room but….am I sitting in a pot with catnip?
I don’t think so! I need your help – PLEASE post a list with poisonous plants for cats!
If your secretary is up for the task….please tell me where there is a list with bad plants for cats! With your help I can foresee a bright future for myself!
In gratitude
Buster

Dear Buster,
The plant you are sitting on is not catnip. It's a jade plant (Crassula ovata). It's safe, but there is a list here of other indoor plants that are poisonous. Any human employing an interior designer better check this list.
Danger - Lilies.
It's not just the plants humans keep in your home: it's also the cut flowers that they put in their homes. Lilies are the most dangerous of all for cats. Everything about them is poisonous - flowers, leaves and pollen. If even a tiny amount of pollen falls on a cat's coat, the cat will lick it off when grooming and can be severely ill, sometimes fatally ill. So humans should ban lilies from the home. Or at least cut off the stamens with their pollen and keep the lilies completely away from our reach.

If you are an indoor cat, there are other house plants that will make you sick if you nibble them - poinsettia, Christmas cherry (solanum), dumb cane and others here.
So tell your human to buy you some kitty grass. So you can nibble safely. We indoor cats cannot get grass from outdoors.
Yours
George.


Saturday, March 05, 2016

Cat-ha Yoga.....

Dear George, 
I need your help to set the record straight! Humans are claiming the fame for inventing yoga thousands of years ago which is absolutely not true! What it’s true thou is that, indeed, some thousands of years ago were some wise men (sages) observing us in utter admiration and, then they started copying our moves and poses! They quickly realized the benefit of breathing and stretching and they called this art Hatha Yoga (a mere typo as in truth it was Cat-ha Yoga).
We know humans are as flexible as dogs and that means ZERO flexibility (easily to observe in downward dog pose)! But us? Whoa! Just look at my twist in the photo attached! Can you see my perfect pose? Ah! That’s exactly what I mean! Do you see any human performing a twist to perfection? No! I tried to teach my human family but only one of my human kittens succeeded. She is very young and beautiful and very talented; she makes beautiful music and sings for me! I love her very much; like my own blood and flesh! She is so good now that I allowed her to teach other humans. 
But, George, how do we take back the credit as founders of yoga?
Namaste
Beau

Dear Beau,
Humans really are maddening. Of course yoga was invented by cats. Indeed, we are still adding to the yoga poses. An acquaintance of yours, Lenny, developed a new asana called “Cat Slipping” as you can see in the photo on the blog for for May 22 last year. And we have been doing zen meditation and other forms of oriental spiritual practices from the times before we even thought of domesticating humans. 
How do we get humans to admit this? I don't think we can. They are just dumb an animals, desperately trying to aspire to our level of spiritual intelligence. 
But why not purrsuade your young human to start a cat and human class. I can recommend sharing Yoga sessions with humans: it is immensely amusing seeing them trying to do a cat stretch. Take a look at this session here. The sheer clumsiness of the humans has to be seen to be believed. What is rather nice is that the whole session was also in aid of cats adopting rescue humans. 
Namaste
George

Friday, February 06, 2015

Training your human to give you food - Toby shows how it is done.

Dear George,
I have trained a Japanese vet to give me food, when I jump over an obstacle. Altogether an amazing experience and one that I am very proud of. It took several days because she was so slow.
At first she failed to give me any food at all. But she did pay attention to me, so I knew there were possibilities there. When I saw her fiddling about with something that looked like a very small horse jump, I tried several different behaviours.
  • I walked up to it and paused. No food forthcoming.
  • I went for a little walk No food.
  • I walked round it and looked at her. Still no food.
  • Then inspiration struck. I leaped over it. FOOD!!
She was so excited by this, that she made little beep-beep vocalisations. Rather like Celia does after I taught her to give food when I touched her hand.  These humans! With infinite patience, they can learn quite a few amusing food tricks.
Yours
Toby.

Dear Toby,
Congratulations.  It is so worthwhile to purrsist in training your human to deliver food. You are, of course, right. It takes days of effort because human are really not as bright as cats. We have to keep trying and keep our patience.
Food placed in a bowl, even food left available all the time, or stolen food - these are the agreeable aspects of living with a human. But sophisticats go for something rather more cerebral. They train their humans to deliver food on command.
The command you need is not a vocalisation. It is a piece of cute behaviour. Do it and you will be rewarded. You did it. Well done.
Simples.
George

Saturday, June 28, 2014

George's obituary of Harvey the Inspirational House Rabbit

 Harvey the Inspirational House Rabbit was a shining beacon for rabbits everywhere. "He took over our lives as soon as he arrived," says Janet, his pet and primary care giver. "From the start he decided firmly what would be his own lifestyle, limitations and place in the family set up."
Luckily for other rabbits who are thinking of moving into a human house, Harvey left a record of his training methods. "It's not all cabbage and carrots being in charge of two humans and a house," he admitted. He monitored all visitors,  and enjoyed watching TV.
His diary of daily life can be purchased here
Harvey also busied himself with a little redecorating - putting frills on the sofa arm, and adjusting the carpet fringe a little. "It was all done very tastefully," he remarked, "They could have shown a bit more appreciation in my opinion."
Like all good trainers, Harvey recognised the importance of showing displeasure when training a human. "If they try to blame you for something, turn your back. If you want to object to anything at all, turn your back and sit tight."
His chapter on the importance of watching feet should be read by all house animals. It is an important insight into the world of humans. He realised that feet were the key to predicting human activity within the house.
He will be much missed. His legacy is his blog and the written version of it in a book. He also contributed photos to Celia's website.




Saturday, March 08, 2014

Can I train my human to stop playing that loud music?


Dear George,
I’m Lenny, named of course after the great Leonard Cohen. I’m six years old now but when I was much younger I adopted a human family.
I don’t recall all the details as I was quite busy training them from day one, especially the male human who wasn’t that much into cats I think. I never had an issue with my female human – she’s well trained; she is the perfect mom.
But, between you and me George, I must admit I adore my human kitten; she is pretty, she’s fun and she is a good friend. We play together, we eat together, we listen to music together – we spend lots of time together. My problem is my male human, her daddy!
Yes, he warmed up to me lately but I don’t think he really understands that “cats rule”.
If I’m listening to Lenny Cohen with my human kitty - he plays Bach….loud! Very loud!
I’m very playful by nature but how long can a cat have fun on Bach? I gave him plenty of signals to change the tune but he won’t get it. Do you think I failed in training him?
What should I do to make it clear that I make the rules, I run the house?
Waiting for the miracle
Lenny

Dear Lenny, 
It is my impression that the human females are more easily trained than the males. Many human females find this to be true too!  But let me congratulate you on being a responsible owner, and starting a training regime from day one.  If only all cats did this, we would have a population of much better behaved and happier humans.
A human can be trained without knowing he is being trained. So the fact that your human male doesn't understand that "Cats Rule" is not in itself important. Dumb creatures without much understanding can nevertheless be trained by us. Indeed, I would go further. Most human pets don't even realise that their cat is training them!
As for Bach? This is a tricky training problem and I am not sure it is worth the effort. Leaving the room when this music is loud may be helpful. You will be spared the assault on your hearing: your human will lose the delight of your presence. In theory this is punishment. But here's the difficulty. If your human has not been properly socialised to cats, he may not care that you withdraw your presence. 
So it may be that it is not worth your effort to train out this particularly irritating bit of behaviour. Sometimes we have to accept the things we cannot (or do not care to) change. 
Yours
George 
PS.  It could be worse. My late human used to play military band music very loud.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Training my human to wave at me....

Dear George,
I am a 13 year old Norwegian Forest, known for my high intelligence and sheer drop dead beauty, and I do not feel that this picture shows either, do you?
I have taught my humans to wave to me. I wave back, with one paw....two would be excessive!
I "beg" [Ha!!] or more to the point, demand, by waving both paws up by my ears. My human has a nasty habit of ignoring me as I balance beautifully on the arm of her chair, so I sometimes have to wave harder, to the point where I wave myself right off the chair.
She then has the damn nerve to laugh, sometimes hiding her face in her paw, and snorting, but I know what she's doing, and stalk off, tail at 'full flag".
I give her time to reflect, then return with a very patient expression, and go through the whole thing again ....usually she gives in then, and I get the biscuit I've been asking for. Humans can be so slow, can't they? If she's good, I will then shake her paw, to assure her she's been forgiven. If I don't feel she's being genuine, I administer a quick bite, to make my point.
My humans are the third family I've had. My birth family had a human who named me Chaos, because he said I was a lout....moi....a lout? Then I had a lovely human who gave me a whole tree trunk to play on, in the living room, but she had to go away, and then these humans took over my household duties. 
The first night I was with them [scared to death, as you can imagine] one of them wrote to the human I'd lost, who was a long way away, in Canada, in an email which said "Hi Mom.." and she answered me!! I have been writing to
her ever since, and am working on a book, to be called "Chaos to Canada"
Best Wishes
Chaos

Dear Chaos,
You are right. The photo doesn't do you justice. It brings up another cat-human issue. Why are humans so obsessed with our tummies. They go gooey when we do our social roll exposing this part of our anatomy. They try to pet us there. In my case, they get a bit of a shock as I respond by scratching. Hard.
On a more serious note. Your letter is proof that humans are trainable. For years most cats have argued that humans cannot be trained to do tricks. Dogs, maybe. Humans, never. This misunderstanding arose because many cats didn't realise how competantly they were training their humans to buy the right food, open doors, and give attention when required. 
But as you have shown, as well as the training basics, you can teach them agreeable little tricks such as hand waving. I am working on teaching Celia how to jump through a flaming hoop. Due to the inevitable lack of human intelligence, this is taking some time. 
But patience and persistence are all!
George.

Friday, August 09, 2013

What's wrong with using the bathtub? It's easy for them to clean up...

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Dear George,
What is a bathtub? And what is its purpose? I'm quite perplexed by my humans' behaviour. Recently we moved again. Yes! I don't expect you to remember how many times we moved so far but, YES, we moved again.  First we moved into a new flat which was ok since I made it my own. Then, we moved in with the "other" human (who had 3 cats - at least we all came from the same shelter) and I had to share everything including my human.  Now we moved to a bigger house which is fine except that I can't find a damn thing anymore so I started using what humans call a "bathtub" as my litter box.
Wasn't this a brilliant idea? Do you see anything wrong with this? I don't but they're making such a big fuss about it. The other cats go to the basement. Well, I don't want to go there. So, what's wrong that I turned the bathtub into my big, comfortable litter box? I like it! It has a nice touch! And I like the color! The other day I heard one of them saying " again? he did it again? what do we do now; how can we use it"?  George, do you think they want to use it as their litter box as well? Are they trying to steal it from me? What should I do?
Yours perplexed
Vegas

Dear Vegas,
Perplexed? I am not surprised. They are just so odd.  In the room with the bathtub, there is a second device know as a lavatory which they use as a litter tray. The only difference is that this contains water. I have sometimes wondered if humans expect us to wait till the bath is full of water (like the human litter box) and then relieve ourselves. But something tells me that they wouldn't like that either. Humans are so unreasonable.
So I think you have to purrsuade them to do something about the litter boxes. Obviously you are trying to get a message to them. There should be one litterbox for each individual, and then one extra just so we cats have a choice. Have they put down enough of them? Just putting them all in the same location is also not at all pleasing for us. They need to be spaced out in different locations. We don't want to have to use a litter tray with another cat standing by, or have to queue for entry. Humans don't like queuing for the chance to eliminate: why do they think is it acceptable to ask us to do so? 
They could put a litter box in the bathroom for you, or in the utility room, or somewhere nice and secluded and then cover the bath with something like netting. Just expecting you to use the basement when you don't feel like it or feel anxious about the other cats, is unreasonable.  What they probably don't understand is that we cats get used to a certain feel under our feet: now you are getting used to the bathtub feel. If they don't act soon it will be too late.....
If all else fails, use their bed. Then, with a bit of luck, they will call in a cat behaviour expert....
Yours in sympathy
George.
PS. Some cats teach themselves to use the human litter tray but it is very awkward to balance on the seat.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Is she training me or am I training her?

Dear George,
My human has started behaving very strangely. She has purrchased a stick with a large red bauble at the end of it. When with a natural curiosity I walk towards it, she says "beep beep" and gives me dried cat food. This happens twice a day and I am naturally quite happy about this extraordinary way of getting extra food.
But.... an awful thought struck me. Is she training me? I noticed a rather smug look on her face as I succeeded in winning some cat food by putting my face near the bauble. While I am quite happy to play this rather boring game, I am not at all happy to think that I am being trained.
I am not a dog. Cats are never trained. We train humans.
Yours anxiously
Toby.

Dear Toby,
Your dilemma is easily solved. She is not training you; you are training her. You have found this relatively easy way of getting more food, so JDI, Just Do It. Humans have mysterious behaviour patterns, and this red bauble on a stick is just part of their unbelievably ridiculous way of life. Don't despise it. Use it to your advantage.
This odd bit of human activity may be connected with something called clicker training. In your case there is no clicker but instead the word "Beep beep." We cats respond relatively well to clicker or beep activity because it is a transaction in which we win. We get the food: the human does not. The folly of the human is their thinking we are being trained by them.
Just to keep her on her toes, be intermittent in your compliance with this game. Occasionally, when you see the bauble walk out of the room. Or find something to scratch. Or have a good wash. Ignore it altogether. Intermittent response makes the human try harder and may well result in a bigger food reward. 
Oh yes, and sometimes look as if you are going to do it and then do nothing. It's a good way to tease your human.
Yours
George.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Caring for your elderly human

Dear George,
As you know, George, I am a house rabbit living with two elderly humans. There's a lot of talk about living with an elderly rabbit but what about advice for bunnies about living with elderly humans? Every evening we play together and have cuddles on the floor. The last time she creaked her way down, she kissed and fluffed my rear bumper mistaking it for my head and ears. She soon realised what she had done and apologised but it was a bit of a surprise at the time. What if her eyes get worse and she doesn't see me near her feet and squashes me? I'll have to be more wary in the future because when I flop out both ends look pretty well the same. So they say. I'm going to doze now, put on my disapproving look  and worry about it.
Yours with some anxiety
Harvey
PS. This is a worry I did not put into my autobiography (buy it here). I didn't want her to read it.

Dear Harvey,
Elderly humans are a worry. There's no doubt about it. They require much more care than younger humans. You can't sit on their face, for instance, when having a nap - they might stop breathing altogether. Sometimes they can't even bend down to give one a proper pet.
Obviously your Janet is quite healthy for her age since she can get down to the floor.  Some older ones can't do that at all. Of course, she does show her age when leavering herself slowly back up again: that that's to be expected.
Specsavers. That's what she needs if she can't tell the difference between your rear end and the front with the head and ears. Her eyesight is obviously going wrong. That's another failing in elderly humans. That and arthritis.
And, of course, some of them lose it altogether. At the best of times humans have limited cognitive powers. Some of the older ones can't think at all. You have to step pretty smartly to make sure they don't fall over you but, if you are lucky, they will forget they have fed you and give you a second meal within a few moments.
Yours
George.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Human kittens and how to react to them.....

Dear George,

I’m completely confused! This morning I woke-up in a little quirky noise or maybe it was giggling? I don’t know! All I know is that I woke up suddenly and what did I see? This little human kitten staring at me and trying to reach me (as you can see in the picture)! Hm! Who WAS he in the first place? And how did he get into my house?
Groggy and confused I looked around to make sure that I was still in my house and yes, my humans were around. So, who could he be and how did he get into my house? Definitely he wasn’t a rescue – too well dressed and fed! I heard my humans saying something about a plane! George, I don’t know what a plane is or if it can bring babies, but I was under the impression that it was the stork that brings the babies! But, we live in the 21st Century and maybe the planes (whatever they are) are bringing babies now.
Anyway, my dilemma is: should I adopt the human kitten and make him one of my own or just ignore him? I have to admit that I like him – he’s soft and smells good. I rubbed against him and I rubbed his belly – he was giggling and giving me big kisses. George, what do I do?
Zoe 

Dear Zoe,
Don't panic!  You just have to make allowances for their clumsiness  and the way they lag behind feline kittens. Our kittens grow up in about 8-12 weeks. They can manage their own toilets, wash themselves and feed themselves well within that period. Human kittens remain helpless much longer. They are - I have to say it - very slow compared with our feline kittens.
That doesn't mean they can't be trained. I can see from the photo that you have made a good start in teaching him that he must ask permission before he touches you. Your paw is ready for a quick pain-free swat and your ears are back. Yes, the sheer size of these slow developers is worrying as is their pathetic clumsiness and lack of gracefulness compared with a true kitten. But it is not their fault.
Just put the normal training programme into being. Calm gentle behaviour is rewarded by rubbing and closeness. Excited or rough behaviour earns either a tap from the paw or (better still) you remove yourself altogether. Getting high up, where the human kitten cannot reach you, will ensure some peace and quiet during the day.
And yes they do smell good!
Yours
George

 


Saturday, July 07, 2012

Finger snapping - not-so-good and mouse in the house - wonderful.



Dear George,
I don’t know if it was the Full Moon or your game with that artificial mind but we had quite few problems with our male human this week. But, first let me introduce myself! I’m Blackie (right) and my brother is Spockie (below)! We live with our adopted human couple and their two human kittens. I could easily say that we are a happy family! 
The only problem we have lately is “communicating” properly with our human daddy.  He is a computer wiz but has a very limited vocabulary! He doesn’t meow….he snaps fingers! One snap – the human kittens go up-stairs! Two snaps – cats go downstairs! Can you imagine this? Spockie takes off right away but I prefer, for most of the time, to simply ignore him! 
Now, we have another crisis! We got a mouse in a kitchen cupboard; in fact - confirmed by the loud screams of our human mommy! We were very excited to do what cats do! The human kittens were quite thrilled too to be part of the hunt….but our “human daddy” didn’t want us on top of the counters! What a pity! How does he think we are going to catch the mouse? Would he design some software or new application for this? Or is he expecting the mouse to open the door and say “hey, come get me”!?
George, what do you think we should do? Is it possible that our “daddy” got an artificial mind and maybe the wrong software installed in it? Or maybe he got a virus?  Can an artificial mind go bad? But, most important - how can we train him to meow?
Teaching him to meow correctly is of paramount importance!
Waiting for your advice!
Blackie


Dear Blackie,
The effect of computers on the human mind is troubling, very troubling. I understand the fascination of the mouse (I will get to the real mouse later), even though their computer mouse is hard, cold and smells of plastic. But what of that odd screen, rather like a TV only with tiny mouse tracks running across it.
They stare at it for hours and hours. I like to see humans doing human stuff but this is an obsession. Worse, they are ignoring us. 
I suggest a sustained campaign of interference with this activity. Both of you should interpose your body between the human and the screen. Lie on the keyboard (I do this - it's not too uncomfortable). Walk on to one of the digits so there is a trail of tracks like this one --wwwwwwwwwwwww...
The finger snapping behaviour (possibly brought on by computer obsession) should simply be ignored. Go downstairs by all means but never ever when you hear him snap his fingers. Training out this irritating snapping will take some time (humans have poor cognition)  and you should allow about six weeks before the activity stops. Be aware that in the first week he will snap his fingers more often and more frantically than before. This is known as the extinction effect as the pet tries even harder to get attention and results. 
I don't think you can train him to meow. Humans do not have the power of feline speech. They are dumb creatures. You have to accept their limitations.
Now the real mouse. Aren't you lucky little cats! Many happy hours of hunting lie ahead. The best times will be while your humans are asleep. If you are fortunate enough to catch the rodent, don't forget to run upstairs and deposit it upon the double bed. Your humans will be delighted at this thoughtful gift* and proud of your pest controlling success.
Yours
George.
PS. On second thoughts, having deposited the mouse on their bed, scram. Instead of being grateful, some humans are violent.





Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org