Over the 50 years that I have shared my life with cats, I have learned that kitties are capable of figuring out some of the most creative and innovative ways to interrupt a guardian’s sleep. When they are hungry and their patience has finally reached critical mass, determined kitties always seem to find some fascinating but exasperating way to make their needs known and ultimately met. However, I must say that their “training methods” for humans, (albeit extremely frustrating and highly annoying), are actually ingenious and almost always extremely successful.
For example, I have absolutely no doubt that Edgar Allen Poe; our one-year old black domestic shorthair has earned his PhD in how to seductively torture his human companions. Every morning at about 5:00 AM he starts gently tapping my husband Marty’s cheek with his paw (of course carefully sheathing his razor-sharp claws. If Marty doesn’t respond quickly enough, Poe’s next step in his training program is to jump on Marty’s head. This is often accompanied with a few hair nibbles and a tender “kiss “on his forehead with his rough pink tongue.
Since Marty is almost as obstinate as this stubborn feline professor, he generally doesn’t give in so easily to Poe’s demands. This puts Marty in grave danger for further and more desperate admonitions emanating from this highly frustrated kitty. The next step in the training program is for Poe to jump on Marty’s night stand and then for him to proceed in the exploration of gravitational forces by knocking off every object that happens to be on the night stand. He even manages to knock off the lamp which Marty cleverly tried to anchor with layers of sticky Scotch Tape.
Of course all of these training methods are initially accompanied by several gentle little mews and throaty purrs. Edgar Allen Poe is a genius at being seductive and manipulating! By this time Marty is waking up and deciding how to handle Poe’s insistent commands. But Poe is ready to counter any of Marty’s ambivalence. The second he suspects that Marty is thinking of ignoring him; he unsheathes those claws and starts batting away at Marty’s beard. Having had too many punishments for uncooperative behavior, Marty gets up and feeds the wee beastie and then goes back to bed. Edgar Allen Poe gobbles up his food and wearing a “Cheshire Cat” grin, innocently curls up at Marty’s feet and drifts off to dreamland. I gotta tell you that it’s very upsetting to live with a man who is sleep-deprived.
In desperation I consulted with a feline behaviorist friend on how to deal with a fractious feline. She had two suggestions; train the cat, or buy a timed-release pet food dish. Marty decided to “train the cat”. My friend warned us that it could take up to three weeks to change Poe’s behavior but Marty being a courageous soul opted to follow her instructions to a “T”. First all of the objects on the night stand were removed. Second, Marty had to be willing to frustrate Poe and no matter what Poe did to totally ignore his behavior. The battle of wits had begun.
However, I am pleased to announce that although only one week has passed, Poe has become an apt student. He no longer wakes Marty up at 5:00 AM. Although he is using his same methods (minus the night stand) he now patiently waits until 6:30 AM. Marty feeds him at 7:00 AM; but not until the alarm clock goes off. We expect that within the next two weeks Poe will sleep until he hears the alarm, and Marty will get his well-deserved needed sleep.
How do your cats train you? Tell us about it with a comment.