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

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.


  1. Oh yes! George is right on the nip, there! As long as you are aware of your peep's ulterior motives, you're actually allowing her to do them. That means... YOU are the trainer and SHE is the TRAINEE. It's all a matter of perspective, I should think. purrs

  2. Toby, you can STEAL the extra food;
    you don't have to put up with her antics and follow the bloody red bubble! C'mon man! Don't play her game unless you have fun!

  3. Lovely game to get extra treats AND stay in shape! Ha! I have to train my human to do this (she cut on my treats - she thinks I'm chubby) :-(

  4. My perspective is that.....I'm sooo bored that I'll anything for some fun, attention and entertainment!

  5. Toby, it's all good - all it matters is that you get the extra treats.... have your human almost down on her knees (it must hurt her a lot) :-)))

  6. CAT VictoriaApril 08, 2013

    Toby, when you see her coming with the red bubble...just start walking in the opposite direction! Let her exercise for you following you around the house :-) and when she's really tired...just follow the bubble for a bit...she's give you the treats
    without much hassle! Let her have a false sense of achievement :-)))
    CAT Victoria

  7. George gives sterling advice Toby. But we think long periods of ignoring the daft bauble thing and just do whatever you fancy.

    Training apes is long, hard road to travel, especially when there's a comfy sofa to sleep on



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