I was brought up on Gourmet cat food, one of the more expensive and delicious kinds. That's what I eat. That's what I like. But I am currently stuck here in cat rescue being fed an inferior food. There's plenty of it, which is good. And it is perfectly nutritious. But I don't feel it is up the standard I am used to. So I worry about my next home. How am I going to make it clear to my new humans, that they have got to get out to the supermarket, ignore the tins, ignore the inferior envelopes on special offer, and buy this particular brand. Have you faced the same dilemma. Can other cats help with training tips?
This is the classic dilemma facing all us cats. We can't buy our own cat food. We have to accept what humans buy for us. This is a serious difficulty and yet, if you were a human looking at the huge variety of cat food available on the supermarket shelves, it would be obvious that cats rule in this area. We don't eat just anything - unless we are starving strays. We train our humans to get what we want. All training tips are welcome in the comments area.
The principles of all human training are to ignore bad behaviour and reward good. This is reward training practised by all good trainers. Punishment has a part in the cat-human relationship but only because we enjoy it not because it is superior to reward training. For most training, rewards, not punishments, are most effective. And, if you think about this, this is a tricky area. We have to train a human to leave the house, go to the supermarket, ignore the special offers, pass by the cheaper brands, buy the right expensive brand and pay for it. Yet we do it. What an amazing feline feat.
If the principles of reward training are followed through you must reward your human for buying the right food. Move to the food dish smartly, eat ravenously (at least the first bit), purr loudly while eating (yes it is possible) and, if you can handle it, knead as well as purring while eating. Most humans recognise purring and kneading as signs of pussycat happiness (well, they are almost right). That is the reward bit of the food training ritual.
The second bit is to ignore bad behaviour. Here you go to the food bowl, sniff disdainfully, look up imploringly at your human and move away. Just don't eat it. Not the tiniest scrap. Do this several times during the day. If you have trained your human to respond to you by leading it to the bowl, do this several times a day. The message is clear. You need food. But this is not the food you can eat.
A further training mode variation on this is to go up to the bowl, sniff disdainfully giving the human your best imploring look, Then treat the food as if it is litter. Paw it as if hiding a lump of you know what. If the bowl is a plastic one, tip the food out of the bowl and hide it under the bowl. Clear message. I think this food is s..t!
What if I am really hungry, you ask. Be firm. Don't eat it. Don't weaken. Training a human requires true consistency and persistence. Leave a minimum of 6 hours before eating any of it - preferably 12 hours. They won't hold out, I assure you. They never do.
If you are really really hungry lick up the gravy and leave the solid bits. All of them. But it will take much longer to train your human if you weaken.