This is an slightly ambitious title. I am not sure I can live up to it. However, I’ll try and pass on a few simple ideas and techniques I have on the subject. There are not many because I don’t usually need to make demands on my cat. Also I expect other people have better ideas.
By the way, “cat wrangling” for me means getting cats to do certain things. It is achieved in the nicest possible way. I live with a cat called Charlie who I refer to in this post.
Carrying and Presenting
Sometimes cats don’t fully appreciate what you are trying to do and achieve for them. Here are two examples of what I mean by “carrying and presenting”.
There are two stray cats outside. My cat does not like them. They have come to be feed by me! Silly me. My cat wants to go outside to go to the toilet. What to do to satisfy the strays and my cat? I place my cat in my room. I feed the strays. The strays go. Then I carry my cat outside and close the door. He is presented with the garden and his toilet. This reminds him he has to have a pee.
My cat usually asks for his food and then I carry him to the kitchen and feed him. Sometimes I might put the food down first for the night or for some other reason and let him go to it under his own steam. If I know he is hungry and I have put down some food that will go off, I will carry him to the food and present it too him.
Also, sometimes he doesn’t see the new food I have put down. I then place it in front of him and he gets the message. It can be useful to place a cat very near food that you want him to eat. A lack of awareness of what is there may be due to poor eyesight at close range and the fact that the nose gets in the way of eyesight! Although a result is no certainty.
Usually cats will sort things out by themselves. However, sometimes you can expedite the matter to the satisfaction of both of you if you carry and present.
“Tease” refers to a cat tease, which is feather or similar object on the end of a stick or it might refer to a favorite food warmed up. Both push the hunting and feeding button in the cat. I guess the cat’s desire to hunt is the favorite motivator upon which wrangling a cat is based.
I have to mention Ken Flick at this point. He has to get cats in the right position to be photographed by Helmi Flick. He does this by first carrying or gently placing the cat in the correct position and using a cat tease to get the cat to look in the correct direction. So he might place the cat facing away from the camera and then use a cat tease to make the cat turn around so that the cat’s eyes face the camera. This is obviously a specialist example. Most people don’t photograph cats like this. However, I would recommend people buy a cheap tease (about a dollar in the US) and hold that in one hand and the camera in the other. You’ll get a much better cat picture.
Here are a couple of pictures of Ken using the cat tease to wrangle cats. Don’t forget he has to handle them first to put the cat into position and then fine tune things with the cat tease:
People don’t normally cat wrangle to get the cat into a photogenic position but the basics are still the same. It’s about getting the cat interested by pushing the hunting button.
The obvious way to get a cat to come out of hiding is to place her favorite food gently warmed up about 3 feet from her nose. Guaranteed success. A cat might be hiding for any reason: new place, stranger in the house etc.
When I have to get Charlie into a cat carrier, which he hates, I will ambush him. My carrier has an open top rather than a side entrance. I place the carrier with the top open in a room other than where he is and near the door. I open the top quietly otherwise he will hear it. Just before we go to the vet or wherever it is, I collect him up and carry him to the carrier and put him in it. By the time he knows what has happened he is inside and the top fastened.
Tone of Voice + Routine
This is an interesting one. It is a form of informal training without any thought to training. I’ll give two examples.
Charlie likes to sit on my chair in the exact spot where I want to sit. He knows that when I speak in a certain voice and have a certain demeanor (nice but firm) that he has to move off the spot and sit on the back of the chair or the arm rest. He invariably does this. How did this come about? I just talked to him and indicated that he should move by gently encouraging him to move off the spot. He now equates the sound of my voice with moving.
I am in bed. Charlie is on the bed but not near me. If I thump on the duvet cover next to me and call to him he comes and lays partly on me and partly on the bed. He is close to me, which is what I wanted. How did this happen? It is just a question of time. Charlie does come to me and rests on my legs without encouragement. He puts his stump (he has 3 legs) on my leg and the rest of the body on the mattress. He quickly learned that banging on the mattress and calling to him is an invitation to come to one of his favorite positions. The key moment was him understanding that thumping the mattress meant to come. But there was no specific technique to get him to that state. Cats are quite switched on to these sorts of things.
However, it must be dependent on the individual cat. Some cats are going to be more responsive to informal training than others.
Do you have some examples of the way you get your cat to do things in the gentlest of ways?