MeOW and welcome to Service Cats and Everything Feline. What do ya’ think about our new name? Anyways, we’re getting some great questions, so keep ‘em comin’. ‘Member, there’s no dumb questions. Even the experts can still learn somethin’. Mommy says the day you think you can no longer learn anythin’ more is the day you become a fool. You can ketch up any time on any of the posts in this series by clickin’ the Training Tips and Everything Feline link in our menu board above. Please leave your questions or post suggestions in the comments below or send us an email via our Contact Page from the menu above. We’re glad ya’ll enjoyed last weeks post and hope we simplified the definitions somewhat and made it easier to understand the difference in the classifications of our Animal Helpers.
The followin’ post will be written in human English fur reader and translator ease. Our Service Cat posts aren’t intended to be an all inclusive Trainin’ Manual but rather Tips, Tricks and Techniques used/developed by mommy A thru her many years of animal trainin’, cats in purrticular. And to offur insight into your questions about Everything Feline. Always remember, Training is all ‘bout Repetition and Rewards.
We were asked, “How long does it usually take to Train a kitty to perform a task?” Our general answer is going to be: Each kitty is different and there are a lot of factors that need to be considered when Training kitty; so the time it takes will vary. Any kitty can be Trained regardless of age, breed, “disabilities” or personality. Successful Training is always, always about Repetition and Rewards. Remember, when it comes to Training mommy says, “Learning doesn’t take a day off”. Mommy used to give piano lessons to humans of all ages. While most teachers give 30 minute a week lessons over the span of 10 years or more, mommy insisted on 1 hour a week lessons for 1 year without breaks or vacations. No summer’s off for mommy’s students. However, if they stuck it out, there’s nothing they wouldn’t be able to play, and in most cases could rewrite music into any key they wished in just minutes. Mommy is very serious about Training of any kind.
Shad (110 camera image)
That being said, let’s take a look back at some of the Service Cats mommy has Trained and how long it took to learn specific tasks. We’ll start with Shad, since she was mommy’s first Service Cat. If you missed Shad’s story, you can read it here. Shad actually Trained herself, but we can look at the sequence of events that occurred leading up to her first act of calling 911 for help. Mommy’s accident occurred in November. A lot of her problems were immediate including passing out. Shad’s first Service Cat act was to dial 911 on the telephone when mommy passed out and hit her head on an end table. She did this in March of the year following mommy’s accident. Mommy surmised that Shad had been observing her since November and realized that when mommy hit her head she was out longer and often more confused when she came too. The next task Shad taught herself was to move the shower curtain away from mommy’s face and push mommy’s head away from the water flow when she passed out in the shower. She first did this in April following the accident. Again, mommy surmised after receiving praise for her attempts to get mommy help, Shad stepped it up and wanted to do more to help. Shad was a small girl, weighing in at only 12 – 15 pounds on average, so she did the best she could considering mommy’s weight and size.
Now let’s move to a Service kitty most of you are familiar with and one that mommy did Train, Lexi. Mommy determined that if Shad could learn those things on her own, then surely mommy could teach other cats to perform those tasks as well as others. When Training, one must always keep in mind the size and natural instincts and abilities of the animal being Trained. For example, you can’t ask or expect a kitty of 6 pounds to pull a manual wheelchair. You must have realistic expectations to be successful in your Training attempts. Since all kitties have the ability and desire to “knead”/”make biscuits”, Massage is one of the first tasks mommy Trains a kitty to perform. Even the smallest of kitties has some power in those paws. After all, that’s how they work more milk into the mother cat’s teats. Lexi’s mother had been killed while she was giving birth, so mommy had raised her from the beginning. Even tho’ Lexi didn’t have to “work” for her milk, she still had great kneading capabilities. The trick here is teaching kitty when and where to knead/massage and how not to use their claws. You can read mommy A’s Training Tips here. A kitten’s eyes and ears are open by the age of 3 weeks, and that’s when mommy started Training Lexi. Lexi was successfully giving mommy massages on demand by the age of 5 weeks. Only occasionally would she get over excited and bring out her claws. Please Do Not Declaw Your Kitty, they can be trained not to use them on you but on appropriate surfaces!!!
Lexi at 6 months (110 camera image)
Mommy started teaching Lexi about the phone when she was about 7 weeks old. She learned the number pattern to dial in about a month but wasn’t big enough or heavy enough to actually push the buttons down until she was about 4 months old. We know it’s hard to believe, but sis Lexi was that small at one time. She had 2 brothers at the time who she watched help mommy in the shower every day. At about 4 months old, she jumped into the tub on her own and tried to help them. She was too small to make a difference, but she learned what to do by watching them and eagerly took her place beside them when she finally got big enough. Lexi was about 3 years old when mommy got her first wheelchair. At that time, Lexi and 1 brother, Lucky remained with mommy. They took turns learning about the wheelchair.
Lexi and Lucky laying on the bed. (110 camera image)
It took about 3 months before Lexi was comfortable enough around the chair to even ride in it. It was her brother Lucky that gave mommy the idea to train them to drive it. At the time, it was the only chair mommy had, so she sat in it most of the time. One night she and Lucky were relaxing in the chair watching television when he got up, pushed the power button, bit the joystick and propelled them forward. He seemed a bit shocked, but didn’t jump down. Lexi came running over and jumped up in mommy’s lap too. Mommy moved the chair back to where they had been and Lucky proceeded to repeat his actions. This happened over and over that night until mommy plugged the chair in and they went to bed. The next morning when mommy awoke, Lexi was sitting in the chair biting the joystick and trying to push it. A wheelchair will not operate when in charging mode.
Lucky laying in wheelchair (110 camera image)
We’re going to stop here for today. We’ll pick up where we left off next Friday, so be sure and stop by to see what’s next. And ‘member to leave your questions and post suggestions in the comments section below or send us an email via our Contact page. You can ketch up on any post you may have missed by clicking the links on our Training Tips and Everything Feline page from the menu above.
Till the next time……………………………………..Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses