Saturday, November 12, 2011

The power of laughter and play to train a human

Dear George,

My name is Zoe and I came from a shelter as my daddy’s birthday gift. I love my new home – it is a big, beautiful house with many sunny spots where I can take a nap or just relax. I’m allowed to go in any room I want to but I’m not allowed to sleep in the master bed yet! But I am happy! They even share dinner with me! So, you might ask why I’m LOL? Well, when they came to pick me up at the shelter…I overheard mommy saying that SHE is not a cat person. Aha! Look at me (in the photo): in less then a week I had her wrapped around my little paws. Now…..she’s in love with me! Of course I make her believe that I’m all hers J and…. this is my little secret (daddy knows)!

But George, I need to learn more tricks to keep her wrapped around my little paws; I have to take over the master bed too! See, I’m young and cute but I don’t have much experience. I’m sure you can help; any ideas, suggestions?



Dear Zoe,

Congratulations on adopting two new humans from rescue. It was particularly kind of you to choose the female, even though you heard her say she wasn't a "cat person." Sometimes that kind of human gets overlooked by cats thinking of adoption and a new home. These humans haven't been socialised to cats. But, as you are discovering, it is surprisingly easy to rehabilitate them and change their basic attitudes towards cats. All it takes is a little basic training and behaviour modification.

You have started well. The very first essential in any behaviour modification programme (or bmp as we human behaviourists call it for short) is to create and strengthen the bond. The human must look to you to get its needs met. What are these needs? In my opinion humans are starved of appropriate touch, vocalisations and play. We cats supply their cravings for stroking, rubbing, purring, laughter and play. That is how we reward them with our very presence.

Now that you have got her craving the rewards that only you can give her, you can start the secondary training. You need to get her used to the idea that you will visit the bedroom. Little by little. Don't start at night, as she is obviously still anxious about sharing a bed with you. Visit the bedroom during the day, have a little sleep on the bed, or, better still, if she is in the room jump on the bed, lie on your back and give a very enticing wriggle. Few humans can resist either laughing at you or tickling you when you do what is known as the "social roll." Many humans also enjoy it if you play kitten games while they are trying to change the sheets.

The idea is slowly to get her used to the idea that you get on the bed. We academic cats call it "habituation" and "counter conditioning." Instead of worrying about fur on the sheets, she begins to associate you and the bed with laughter and play. Finally, once she is fully at ease with that thought, wait for the moment when you can sneak on. It might be when she takes a nap one afternoon. Or perhaps one Sunday morning when she is drowsing later than usual in the morning.

Jump up quietly. Lie down in a convenient area and purr very very loudly. It usually works and a few weeks later you will be installed as the third person on the bed. Let me know how you get on.

Love George


  1. Wow! You look so cool!
    I'm sure you'll find your way to the master bedroom.

  2. Zoe, you look beautiful! Good luck with your people! I'm still trying to "move" mine from master bedroom into the basement. But, may be being so young and cute will help you succeed.
    Sir Winston

  3. Zoe, get in bed before them. When she comes....pretend you're sleeping (deep and sound). She won't have the heart to kick you out. When she's almost asleep...get closer to her and purr (loud and happy); the master bed will be yours! If not....pee on her cloths:-)

  4. CAT VictoriaNovember 13, 2011

    Oh! I love that big "laugh".
    Zoe, you a smart cookie, I mean...kitty! George is right....use gentle training here!
    CAT Victoria

  5. Zoe, with your stunning beuaty and George's wonderful advice I think you will be snoozing on the bed very soon. When this happens, do not be afraid to brace your paws against your apes and push hard, there's nothing worse than being cramped on the ape bed.

    Oliver & Gerry

  6. Fluffy and CayenneNovember 18, 2011

    Zoe, you are so cute! Laughing is good! We bet you'll be sleeping in the master bed soon!
    Fluffy & Cayenne

  7. Well, at night I'm the first in bed and in the morning I'm the last out of bed - that's the way to take it over :-)

  8. WOW! You are really laughing!
    Keep laughing and take over the world. You are very cute!


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, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online