Meow Welcome to another Service Cat Monday. Ya’ know, me meowed ‘bout a special graphic fur Service Cat Mondays last week, and then mommy went and let down on the job. She didn’t get anythin’ made up. She did purromiss to work on it this week tho’, so we’ll see. As always, ifin ya’ have any questions, purrlease leave ‘em in the comments section, or send us an email. You can also use our “contact us” page in the menu. It’s purrivate, nopawdy sees it but us. And ifin you’ve missed any post in this series, purrlease click on the links at the bottom of this or any Service Cat posty. The followin’ will be written in human English fur reader and translation ease. We also need to say that our training posts are not intended to be a step by step instruction manual, as trainin’ is all about Repetition, Consistency and Rewards. We include tips, tricks and techniques mommy has used/developed through her many years of training animals, cats in purrticular. MeeeeeeeYow Now that the business is outta the way, let’s get to it.
Of all the things we do, calling for help is the one more people ask/comment about. As technology evolves and times change, less and less homes have an actual land line. However, we pointed out in our first post about calling for help, that kitties can not use cell phones. So, are there other options for those that don’t want to pay for a monthly land line phone service? And if so, can kitty be trained to use it? Our latest question about calling for help comes from our sweet friends Robin and Cheddar from Cheshire Loves Karma. The jist of their question was: “How can one train kitty to call for help when their handler is unconscious? It’s one thing to tell kitty to call for help, but how will kitty know to call if nobody tells them too?
The short answer is: Once kitty has been trained to perform a specific task in response to a specific situation; they will perform that task when that situation presents itself whether you tell them too or not. We must remember, kitties’ are very smart. They are capable of assessing a situation and acting appropriately, especially when they’ve been individually trained. We want to remind you that kitties and doggies are completely different animals with differing motivations and abilities. Kitties react from a place of love and devotion. For that reason, kitty must bond with the person/handler they are to help. That person must become kitty’s primary caretaker; in so much as they are able. You can check out our Bonding Tips and Techniques in the links below.
Now, let’s talk about some of the other options available besides a land line. Most people have heard of those Emergency Alert monitors. Technology has come a long way since the introduction of the first Emergency Alert System. They typically come with a base unit, and a necklace or bracelet with a button to be pushed if a person needs help. Most of the units today are about the size of an old fashioned answering machine. Because mommy falls and passes out all the time, her case manager is always trying to get mommy to sign up for one of these devices. Mommy ain’t having it. She says the necklace is ugly, and she doesn’t need yet another item taking up precious outlet and cabinet space. MOL And besides, she has us.
But let’s say you do want to go this route. You need to know that besides the initial cost of the unit, there is a monthly monitoring fee. The charges vary between companies, but all of these units are monitored 24/7/365. They are typically set up to call your emergency contact before alerting 911 authorities. We used to have a neighbor who had one of these units and she would press that button all the time. You could hear the voice come booming out of the base unit calling to her and asking what she had done, and if she wanted them to call her son. Her son was set up as her emergency contact, so they would call him, before alerting an ambulance, the police or fire services. These units are meant to be heard all over the house, so you need to be aware of how loud they will be. This is important as kitty will need to be trained not to be afraid of the noise/voice.
Now, let’s get to the training part. An old answering machine would make a great alternate training device since they would have a large play button, and one could record a voice message that would respond/play after the button is pushed. Of course you can use fingernail polish or a permanent marker to color the “play” button red, but it’s not necessary. There is controversy about whether cats can actually see the color red or not. The one large button is your main focus regardless of color. You will want to simulate the situation as closely as possible during training. Mommy laughs about how much extra time she actually spends on the floor during training.
We’ll use passing out as our example for this training exercise. You’ll start out on the floor and instruct kitty/doggy to push the emergency call button. Pick a short phrase that’s easy to remember during a crisis and that’s only used for this task. You might say something like, “Call for Help”, “Get Help”, “Push Button”, or just “Help”. Be sure you are close enough to the base unit to take kitty’s paws and push the button without getting up. You can also enlist a second person to assist you with kitty if that’s an option available to you. Altho’ at some point you’ll need to be completely alone with kitty to simulate the actual incident. And remember when setting up the unit, kitty must be able to easily get to the base unit. You can also train kitty to push the button on the necklace in the same manner. But decide which action you want kitty to perform and stick to it. In other words, kitty will either be trained to push the button on the base unit or the necklace, but not both. You don’t want to confuse kitty or set kitty up to fail.
While you’re on the floor, tell kitty to push the button and then place kitty’s paw on the button and gently push down. (Remember to use an alternate training device such as an old answering machine with the volume turned all the way up.) The recording should start and say something like, the person’s name, brief silence and then, “Do You Need Help?!” “Are you okay?” “What happened”, and “Do you want me to call someone”. It would also be helpful to record other people for kitty to hear, as monitors can be male or female. Do Not allow kitty to run away when the voice starts talking. And always remember to reward kitty with extra love. Training sessions should be consistent and short. Remember, training is all about repetition and rewards. Training should happen at least once a day for 15 to 20 minutes. If you miss a day, be prepared to start from the beginning. Repeat these steps daily until kitty starts heading for the emergency unit without being told to. We can’t say how long this will take, as all kitties are different, but it will happen so long as you’re consistent.
Once kitty starts heading for the machine on their own, pretend you’re unconscious. Say nothing and do nothing. Kitty may or may not push the button. If kitty does not push the button, rewind a bit and instruct kitty to perform the desired action. Keep at it. One day, the light bulb will go off and kitty will follow through without being told to. Always remember to reward kitty when they get any part of the task right. Do Not reward kitty if they don’t respond at all. You will also have to monitor kitty to be sure they’re not pushing the button just because. Initially kitty may think this is a new game.
Do Not yell at, hit, or drench kitty with a water bottle for “playing”. Instead, use this as a training opportunity. Start a training session. In a calm voice, tell kitty this isn’t a game and remove them from the unit until you’re ready to train. You should also make the monitoring company aware of the fact that a Service Cat is employed in your house. Once kitty is performing consistently, you may contact the monitoring company and set up a training session where they are involved and you’re using the actual medical alert unit. Remember, the closer you can simulate the situation and training props, the better. Always set kitty up to succeed and reward appropriate responses with lots of praise and love.
Well, this has been a rather long posty, but we do hope it has helped someone. Today we covered the Emergency Alert systems. There are other options available, and we will try to cover those soon. Ifin you have any questions about this or anythin’ else, purrlease ‘member to leave them in the comments, or email us. And check out our other Service Cat posts below.
Till the next time………………………………………….Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle