training cats

Clicker Training for Cats

clicker-training-cat

Cats are often considered untrainable – but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are cats far more sociable than many people used to think, they can also be easily trained. One popular and effective way to do this is with clicker training.Continue Reading

Review: Brain Games for Cats

brain-games-for-cats

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Play is vitally important to a cat’s physical and mental health, and it’s especially important for indoor cats. Even though cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day, when they’re awake, they need stimulation, and the best way to accomplish this is with play. Play is also a wonderful way to strengthen the bond between cat and human. Brain Games for Cats: Fun Ways to Build a Loving Bond With Your Cat Through Games and Challenges offers a wide variety of games and exercises for cats of all ages.Continue Reading

Samantha Martin and the Amazing Acro-Cats Need a New Tour Bus

Acrocats tour bus

Earlier this year, I had a chance to see the Amazing Acro-Cats, featuring over a dozen beautiful rescue cats who perform tricks ranging from walking on tightropes and balls to jumping through hoops to bowling and ringing bells. I also had a chance to speak with Samantha before the show and meet the cats. From the moment I met her, I knew I had encountered a kindred spirit. You can read all about my experience here.Continue Reading

Review: How Smart is Your Cat?

how-smart-is-your-cat

I think most of us would agree that cats are pretty darn smart. What, Allegra? Oh, you think that Ruby is too smart for her own good? I have to agree with you on that. Ruby, stop blowing raspberries at your sister!

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled book review! How Smart Is Your Cat is a fun little book that allows you assess your feline family members’ intelligence with a series of intelligence tests and easy to teach tricks. Continue Reading

Giveaway: The Cat Caller pet locator and training device

The Cat Caller

Today’s giveaway is for one of the more unique products I’ve seen lately. The Cat Caller is a remote locator that goes on your cat’s collar. A. A wireless remote keychain transmits a unique signal to each individual receiver. There is also a “panic button” that sends a signal to all receivers at once. It is said to work through walls, closets, indoors and outdoors.

The Cat Caller was invented by Pat Hill. Like all good mothers, she worries about her babies. She got frustrated with her cats getting into the most unusual hiding places. They also seemed to have an uncanny way of knowing when she was getting ready to leave the house. We all know that there’s nothing worse than thinking that your cat might be trapped in a closet, or slipped outside unnoticed. Pat worked with an engineer for several years to figure out how to make a receiver that would attach to any collar, be bright enough to see, loud enough to hear and have a range just far enough to be able to do both. And of course, it couldn’t be a nuisance to the cat. The Cat Caller was the result of her research.Continue Reading

Is Sullivan the World’s Smartest cat?

Sullivan cat who can read smart cat

I first came across the story of Sullivan and his sister Sarah, two 15-year-old formerly feral Maine Coon cats from Greenwich, NY, in the December 2011 issue of CatFancy. According to the article, these cats have learned to identify shapes, colors, and numbers. They can even grasp abstract concepts such as same or different and bigger or smaller.

Joan Kosby, Sullivan and Sarah’s human, was inspired by psychology professor and animal cognition expert Irene Pepperberg, who worked with Alex, an African Grey Parrot, and taught him many of these same skills. Kosby used repetition and rewarded the cats with food treats and praise.Continue Reading

Training Cats

Guest Post by Elaine Viets

There are people who can train cats to do tricks, to walk with a leash, to use Elaine Vietsthe toilet and flush afterward. Dominique, the Key West cat man, has a whole show using his specially trained “flying house cats.” He gets them to walk on tightropes and jump through hoops.

After hearing about these feline successes, Don and I tried to train our cats. Three cats back, we adopted a young semi-Siamese named Sylvie. We’d heard that Siamese cats liked to walk with a leash and were easy to train. We bought a Chihuahua leash for her. Sylvie flopped down on the sidewalk like a passive resistor and went limp. We wound up dragging the protesting cat half a block, which caused talk in the neighborhood.

“Be patient,” the text books advised us potential cat trainers. We kept trying to use the  leash. Finally clever Sylvie learned to escape its leather confines like a hairy Houdini.

The cats quickly succeeded in training us. They started yowling every morning, and we learned to leap out of bed at seven a.m. and feed them.

It took six cats before Don succeeded in training one. Now my husband regrets his success.

We adopted Harry, a brown-and-black striped tiger, from our local vet. Some idiot had shot Harry’s family. Harry escaped with his life, but he was left with a fear of large, white males, which proved he was a sensible animal. Whenever a big, white guy loomed at our condo door, Harry hid under the couch. If it was a bill collector, I joined Harry.

It took Harry nearly six months and lots of coaxing before he would let Don pet him. After a year, Harry permitted Don to scratch his ears.

Another six months later, we had a breakthrough. At least, we thought so at the time. Harry let Don scratch the base of his tail. Don was thrilled. So was Harry.

The cat would follow Don around and jump up on chairs so Don could scratch his tail. Don thought this was hilarious.

He’d slap a chair seat and say, “Present butt!” Harry would jump up for his tail scratch. He would fold back his ears and look blissfully happy.

Harry started following Don everywhere. If Don took a nap or stretched out on the couch, Harry was there, demanding a scratch. He was polite about it, in a catlike way. He’d give Don a formal forehead bump, which is cat for “hello” or maybe, “wake up, stupid.” We weren’t sure on our cat translations.  Then Harry would turn around and present his rear end for a scratch. The cat looked like a brown-and-black watermelon. A very happy watermelon. Don obliged and scratched him.

Harry has become a scratchaholic. If Don lights anywhere for a moment or two, there’s Harry, demanding a butt scratch.

It’s ceased to be funny. Don can’t read a book or fall asleep until Harry gets his butt scratch. Now the cat has started waking up Don in the middle of the night.

“This is kind of kinky,” Don said, as he scratched the cat’s rear end at three in the morning.

“Couldn’t you train the cat to turn on the coffee maker, or dial 911 in case of an emergency?” I asked. “You did pretty good with all those dogs.”

Don has trained the neighborhood pooches to line up at their fences when he passes by on a walk. He says, “Present ear,” and the dogs get their ears scratched. It’s a much more wholesome pastime.

“Why couldn’t you have trained Harry to get his ears scratched?” I asked.

“That’s for dogs,” Don said.

I guess I should be grateful he doesn’t scratch Clydesdales.

The Fashion Hound MurdersElaine Viets writes two mystery series, The Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series, set in her hometown of St. Louis, and the Florida-based Dead-End Job series. She has won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards for her writing.  In Elaine’s lastest release, The Fashion Hound Murders,  Mystery shopper Josie Marcus investigates a chain of doggie boutiques and discovers those fashionable pets come at a killer price.