Meowllo and welcome to Service Cats Monday. We’ve kinda been teasin’ you ‘bout todays posty all last week. Truth is today’s posty isn’t a fun one, but unfurtunately sometimes necessary. As with all our educational posts the following will be in human English. Ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series you can ketch up by clickin’ on the links at the end of this post. As always, we welcome your questions and thoughts, suggestions and ideas, so purrlease leave them in the comments or send us an email. We try to answer all questions, especially training questions as quickly as pawssible. We do like to answer trainin’ questions in our posts so that everypawdy can benefit from it. As with all our trainin’ postys, the tips, tricks and methods have been developed by mommy thru her many years of rescue, animal ownership and bein’ owned by kitties. And most purrtant, training is all about Repetition and Consistency. Well let’s get on with the trainin’.
Our sweet furiend Herman Tattlecat asked, “How do you teach kitty to stay off the counters, etc.?” We of course can expand this question to include all the negatives, and restate the question as, “How do you un-train bad behavior?” Mommy will tell you that it’s easier to train good behavior than to break bad behavior. Mommy’s never had a kitty that counter surfed the kitchen counters or sat on top of the fridge. She doesn’t allow it. Before we go on, we want to reiterate the importance of love and positive reinforcement. Hitting kitty IS NOT an effective training method!!! Drenching kitty with the water bottle or water gun Is Not an effective training method!!! To train, means to know your subject and understand their motivations. We are mommys children…but, we aren’t human and our brains don’t work like a humans’ brain. So mommy says you have to think like a cat and act like a cat to train a cat.
So let’s start off by saying, Before you adopt a kitty, decide what kind of rules you want to implement. Do you want to allow kitty anywhere and everywhere? Or are there places you don’t want kitty to go? Stick to your decisions, and make sure everybody in the house is in on the plan. Remember, you have to be consistent for kitty to learn. Just because you don’t want kitty walking around on your kitchen counters doesn’t mean you’re abusing kitty or making him/her sad. You’re not depriving them of anything either, so long as you provide places they can get up on. And it doesn’t have to be the biggest and fanciest cat tree made. As most of you know we have a great cat tree; actually we have 2 great cat trees and a small perch. But, mommy could have never afforded them herself, and all the kitties before me never had a cat tree to climb on. We are so thankful for those who gave us our trees, but the point is, that they’re not necessary to make kitty happy.
It’s all well and good to tell you to never allow kitty to get on the counters in the first place, but not everybody is starting with a brand new kitten. You now have an adult cat that is jumping up and lounging on your kitchen counter, or sleeping on the refrigerator. Or maybe even walking all over the stove top, or even hanging from your curtains. Aaaaaaaaw Isn’t kitty cute unrolling the toilet paper roll? It was soooooooo cute when they were kittens; you couldn’t get the camera/fone fast enough. Isn’t everything kittens do adorable? NO!!!
None of those behaviors are cute especially not when kitty weighs 10 – 20 pounds and is supposed to be an adult. Not when you want to prepare food, or need to avail yourself of the bathroom facilities. Not when kittys’ paws are tracking litter onto the table. And certainly not when the burner on the stove top has been turned on. So how and what do you do to train kitty not to do those things in the first place? Just say, “No!!!” Be firm and remove kitty if they get up there. Offer them an alternative. Remove the toilet paper from the roller. This step is only temporary, so don’t worry, you will be able to put it back as soon as kitty learns a firm No. Altho’ this applies to all stages of training, this paragraph is still a little more focused on the younger cat.
So, let’s suppose your kitty has been doing it so long you don’t remember when it started. What do you do now? Can kitty be trained to stay off these surfaces. Yes, absolutely. Altho’ mommy’s not had these issues, she has trained others kitties who did. So let’s look at mommys’ training kit and see what we have. First, training is repetitive and constant/ongoing. Second, don’t worry about what others think of you. You may need to look and be a little silly. You are after all only human. You are training a superior being, the cat. So let’s get to know and understand your subject. Cat mommy teaches and disciplines her kittens with hisses and bites. Littermates train each other with hisses and bites. Disputes between cats are often solved with intimidation, hisses and growls. So humans must become as cat like as possible for training purposes.
Let’s look at Intimidation. A cat who wants to intimidate another will puff themselves up in an attempt to look bigger and scarier. Obviously humans can’t puff up, so what can you do? Mommy has a move she calls her Space Danger move. She waves her hands in the air and repeats loudly, “Danger!!! Danger!!!” She says anyone old enough to remember Lost in Space will recognize this, for the rest of you, do a youtube search and check out the robot. Anyways, this will startle kitty and generally cause them to back away, get down, and/or remove themselves from the situation. Yes, you may look a little funny, but nobody/kitty gets hurt and it works. Initially your kitty may freeze. If this happens, remove kitty from the area. Once kitty has removed themselves/been removed or stopped the inappropriate behavior, remember to praise and love on them. If you have to remove kitty yourself, do it quickly and gently but Do Not hug or love on kitty until they have been put down in a more appropraite area. You don’t want to confuse kitty or reinforce bad behavior, so praise should only happen when kitty is where you want them to be, standing on their own.
Mommy had to go way back in da files to find us puffed up.
Now let’s look at Hissing. Let me tell you, no kitty has anything on our mommy when it comes to hissing. If you’ve ever listened to hissing kitties, there are variations of the hiss. From a nonchalant don’t touch me to a you’re dead. We kitties are very smart, and once we’ve been told No, we know when we’re doing wrong. That being said, if kitty jumps back on the counter and you’re in another room? No doubt kitty’s going to jump down and disappear before you can get to them and start your Space Danger move or remove kitty yourself. So what can you do to be consistent in training kitty to stay off the counters, etc.? Hiss. Yep, you read that right, hiss and say No, or Get down in a firm voice. You may have to hiss more than once, but you will eventually find the appropriate hiss for the occasion. And of course you need to head towards kitty to make sure they do get down or stop the behavior. And remember to praise and love kitty for their good behavior.
Me’s givin’ a hissin’ example and Raena be puffin’ up.
We discussed biting in a previous post, so we won’t cover it again here. We will say that biting isn’t an appropriate method of training for these particular issues. Okay, we’ve covered what to do when you’re home with kitty, but what do you do when you’re not at home to keep an eye on kitty? We’re going to list some tips here that can work so long as they are used in conjunction with the hands on training listed above. Put “noise makers” on the edges of counters, shelves, fridge tops, etc.. Examples of such noise makers are:
Coin Filled aluminum cans
Coin filled plastic bottles
Crumpled Aluminum Foil
Large sqeaky toys
Parchment or Wax paper
For the coin filled items, we don’t mean full cans or bottles, just enough coins to rattle when shaken or dropped. They must be light enough for kitty to knock them over. Altho’ you can’t control what kitty does when no one’s home, DO NOT let kitty play with these training items. And by edge, we mean they should be balanced along the edges so that if kitty tried to jump up, the can or foil will immediately fall. Whoopee cushions and squeaky toys should be at the edge so that if kitty jumps up on them they will be startled by the noise and immediately jump back down. In recent years we have seen the development of air cans that spray kitty with air when they get close to it. This Is Not a method mommy likes or promotes.
Remember to provide kitty with appropriate toys and areas to jump on and/or play with. Always end discipline with love and praise. When removing kitty from a counter or other area, do it swiftly, but gently. Do Not hug on kitty until he/she is in an appropriate area and only after kitty has been set down. Mommy doesn’t like or promote cat trees, perches, or any other climbing apparatus near the kitchen or counters. This is too much temptation for kitty to step off of their tree and onto the counter, table, shelf, etc. Don’t set kitty up to fail. Before humans welcome a child into their home, they prepare the home and try to make it as safe as possible for the baby. The same should be done for the pets brought into your home.
We have shelves and small tables around the house. As long as they are filled with books or knick knacks, they’re off limits to us. But if a shelf is empty, mommy allows us to lay/sit on it. We’re allowed on the bathroom counters any time we want and have a small table in the living room for us along with the cat trees, perch and chair. We’re also allowed on the bed, shower chairs and cat steps. As long as kitty is provided with sufficient perches keeping them off counters should be an easy train. Remember to be consistent. Kitty wants rules and structure and lots of love.
Well, guess we’ll wrap it up fur today. We hope this has helped ya’ll out. If you have any questions about today’s post or any other training post, purrlease let us know in the comments below as well as any other questions you might have. And yes, mommy has hissed in public. It works on children of the 2 legged variety as well. Don’t furget to click on the links below ifin you’ve missed any of our Service Cats Training posts, and have a pawsum day.