#Service Cats: Explaining Rewards and How Kitty Feels About Training

Meow Me would like to fank you all fur your unnerstandin’. Even tho’ Buddy wasn’t ours, we luvved him. After all, mommy had helped take care of him since he came to live with mr. W 7 years ago. Anyways, we know you all came by today fur Service Cat Monday. We’ve got some great questions to talk ‘bout and answer today. ‘Member, ifin ya’ have questions, purrlease leave them in the comments or send us an email. We do our bestest to answer them all in a timely manner. Ifin you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ the links at the bottom of this post. We need to tell ya’, our Service cat posts are not meant to be a trainin’ manual as trainin’ is all ‘bout repetition and reward. Our tips are tailored specifically to kitties, but they also work well with dogs. And, as with all our educational postys, the followin’ will be written in human English fur reader and translation ease. So, let’s get started.


 Dezi lays in mommys lap for loving


Our first question comes from those amazing Canadian Meezers Shoko and Kali and awnty Jean. They want to know how Raena acts after a training session. Does she want to continue/more training? Is she proud of herself? Is she happy it’s over? Remember, all training sessions should be kept short, fifteen to twenty minutes maximum. We’ve mentioned in several posts that training is serious business, but it should also be fun. And we’ve posted a few stories about our training adventures that shows just how much fun they can be. The goal is for kitty to learn something. It doesn’t have to be the exact task you’re training the fist time, but at least a part of it.


 Raena heads to the kitchen with the nip nanner

I’s struttin’ mines stuff all the time.



As you know, mommy is starting Raena’s wheelchair driving training. The first complete task would be to be comfortable with the control panel and power the chair on and off. No actual driving or biting of the joystick. So, mommy takes Raena’s fascination with the horn as a win. It shows she’s comfortable with the beeping and if it accidentally gets hit while driving, it won’t startle her and cause her to try to jump off the moving chair. Mommy says it’s always better to stop a training exercise while kitty is still interested. As with anything else, you want kitty to look forward to training the next time. If kitty is hiding, or running from you at training time, you’ve pushed them too far. You can recover from this. Pick a new task and start as if it were the very first time. You can come back to the previous task when kitty/doggy has learned that training is fun. Speak excitedly and expectantly. Use your baby voice. Whatever gets your kitty excited and eager to spend time with you. That brings us to our next question. But we do want to give Raena’s take on how she feels after a training session first.


 Raena sits in mommys lap and massages her

I’s luvs gettin’ mommy luvvin’.


          I’s always excited at the end of a training session. I’s could continue but mommy says we’re all done. Mommy also says that I always sashay around and strut my stuff, so she can’t be sure if I feel proud of myself or am just walking normally. I’s always follow mommy and ask to sit in her lap and get some more loving when training is over. She’s always happy to oblige. 



 Dezi lays in mommys' lap for some loving

Me luvs mommy luvvin’ too.


Thanks Raena. Now that everybody’s confused…Me acted and acts pretty much the same way. Remember, training is continual and repetitive. Mes sessions are refreshers. And mommy counts anytime me actually performs a task as a training session. So to answer the question about how a kitty (Raena) acts after a training session is: If it’s been done right, kitty will probably exhibit one or more of those emotions. Always stop a session while kitty is still engaged and eager.


 Raena sleeps in mommys lap

Extra luvvin’ leads to this. No trainin’ session happenin’ now. 


The next question we got was from awnty Victoria. She wanted to know more about the reward system mommy uses. Mommy prefers praise and love instead of treats. Mommy talks a lot during training sessions. It’s not all telling us what to do, but also telling us that she loves us, she’s proud of us, we’re so smart, she’s so blest, and so on. The tone of praise is gentle, affectionate and almost giddy. The tone used to instruct us is stern but gentle. So, even if you don’t believe we understand the words, we do understand the difference in the tone of voice. Altho’, mommy would argue with you over the fact that we do indeed understand what she is saying.


Dezi in harness

Rewards also include pats, hugs and kisses. Reward time doesn’t last long. The training session is only fifteen to twenty minutes long, so you need kitty to stay focused. For example, Raena pushes the power button or horn and doesn’t move away. Success. Mommy would say, “Oh Raena, you’re so smart,” and bend into her for a quick hug, and then it’s back to training. And remember, when using love as a reward, Do Not give love during the actual sessions unless kitty/doggy has performed the task correctly. We told you that mommy uses a hand to hold/stabilize us while driving the wheelchair. As tempting as it may be to rub kitty, Do Not! Kitty must not relax into a love session. There’s plenty of time for that later. You know your kitty/doggy best, so you know what kind of love they prefer. If your kitty doesn’t like to be patted on or near the tail, don’t do it. You want kitty/doggy to feel rewarded and not agitated. And Play time has no place during training. Unless you are training kitty/doggy to fetch a toy. Play time is not a “love” reward.


 Raena posing in her harness on the small cat perch


You might consider us bringing mommy the phone or other items a game of fetch; but it is not. Typically a game of fetch entails the human throwing something for kitty/doggy to run after, pick up and bring back. Mommy isn’t throwing the phone, food or anything else. We are learning to bring mommy something from a stationary position. Awnty Victoria had asked how long the loving reward should last, as her kitty gets frustrated after being petted for long periods. This is pretty typical behavior in most cats. Kitties typically warn you by a quick flicking/swooshing of the tail. If this is happening, your reward is lasting too long. Remember, rewards should be quick and only offered when kitty has performed at least some part of the task correctly. There’s plenty of time for extra loving before or after a training session.


 Raena in stroller

Well, we hope this post helps you understand the “Love Reward” system a bit better. Again, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or send us an email. We hope to be a bit busy today with mommy’s worker, so we’ll be ‘round to visit when we can.


Do you (your cat/dog) have a favorite love reward?

Have you trained (your cat/dog/human) to perform any specific task (other than feed me now-MOL)?


Till the next time……………………………………….Be Blest!!!


Dezi: Vibrant Blue 

Raena: Navy Blue


Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses


Deztinee and RaenaBelle 


Service Cats

What to Look For     Training Foundations     Train Kitty to Massage

Smelling Disease     Do You Need One     Who Bears the Cost 

Housing Laws and Exceptions     Accommodations and Common sense 

When the Handler Dies     Proper Training Methods Pt. 1 & Pt. 2

Easiest Task to Train     Getting Kitty Ready for an Outing

Discipline: Stop Countersurfing Kitty     Internal Disputes 

Calling Emergency Help     Just What is Kitty Capable Of 

Shad: Original Service Cat     Harness or Vest Leash or Stroller 

Dezi the Wheelchair and the Chest     Round and Round We Go

Tumble and Fall Response     Raena Calls for Help 

The Rest of the Story     Raena and the Wheelchair Pt. 1

When to Train