Friday, February 20, 2015

Who's in Charge Here?

Cuteness Level 11

My cats have succeeded in bending me to their will.  Not that I resisted very much.  Okay, I cooperated quite willingly.  Still, it has been fascinating to observe and experience the way in which my cats have trained me to do what they want me to do.

Quint is the least subtle of the two.  When he wants something, he simply meows at me until I figure out what that something is and either do it or supply it.  When he wants a kitty treat, he sits by his “egg” and stares at me until he gets one.  The “egg” is a plastic, egg-shaped toy that is hollow on top and weighted at the bottom so that when he bats at it, is spins around, wobbles a bit and then rights itself.  The two halves unscrew from each other and you can load small treats into the top.  There is a small hole in one side of the hollow top where the treats fall out as the egg spins around.  Quint is very good at pushing the egg around the kitchen to get the treats to fall out.  So when he sits by his egg, I know exactly what he wants.

I keep a length of string in one of the kitchen drawers.  Quint likes to have me drag the string around for him to chase.  He will sit on the kitchen floor directly below that drawer and meow for me to play with him.  When he wants someone to throw one of his catnip mice around the house for him, he will knock down the one he wants to play with from the shelf where we keep them and start batting it around at our feet.

At mealtimes, he demands to be fed on time each morning and evening.  He comes into the bedroom in the morning and wakes up my wife when it’s time for him to be fed.  In the evening he trots into the kitchen, looks to see if there is fresh wet food in his dish and, if there is not, meows loudly, letting whichever of us is there know that it is time for supper.

If he wants to be taken out in his cat-stroller, he will come and find me, meow at me, and then lead me to the living room where the stroller is parked.  Often he will jump up into the stroller, sit down inside and look up at me, waiting for his ride.  Other times, he will sit alongside the thing and wait for me to put him inside so he can get that ride.

He usually does each of the activities at around the same time each day, but I wouldn’t ever say that he does anything automatically, or as part of a training pattern.  I firmly believe that, at any given moment, he knows exactly what he wants to do and makes sure that if it’s not something he can do for himself, he gets the help he needs to do it.  I believe this because at other times, he’ll play by himself, or he’ll start of game of chase with Hedge.  He calls on me when he needs or wants me to help him.

Hedge is less demanding and much more subtle in getting what he wants, but he, too, knows how to get us to give it to him.  He likes the new Tumbler treats from Temptations and he’ll come into the kitchen in the evening looking for someone to roll a few of them to him while he runs after them.  He still only likes to be petted in certain places, but when he thinks it’s time for him to be petted, he is quite insistent that I stop whatever I’m doing at the time and follow him to whichever location he’s chosen and pet him right then.  Depending on his mood, this can happen several times a day.  He doesn’t always squeak at me to come and pet him, sometimes he’ll just sit outside of the door of whatever room I am in and wait for me.  When I get near him, he will then lead me to the spot where he wants to be petted, looking over his shoulder to make sure I’m following.

Both cats here their special times when they get brushed.  Hedge gets brushed in the morning as soon as I am awake.  Sometimes he waits until he’s sure I’m about to get up and then jumps up on the bed about the time my feet hit the floor.  Occasionally, he’ll have something else he’s doing in the morning, like bird watching or eating breakfast, but as soon as he hears me moving around, he’ll find me, squeak at me and lead me into the bedroom for his morning grooming session.  Quint gets brushed in the evening.  He gets both his teeth and his fur brushed right around supper time.  He’s flexible about exactly when that happens, as long as it does happen eventually.

There are times when my schedule requires that I be away from the house at the times when the cats are used to having me around.  They are very forgiving when that happens, but I do get scolded and reminded that their needs really ought to come first.  Mostly of the time, I agree with them. I like being a servant to my cats.  There’s no monetary reward in it, but the purrs I receive are priceless.