I’m one of those weird people that has a strong opinion on animal training. I think that any animal you have should be trained to be safe and respectful of people. Prilla isn’t declawed; I don’t trim her claws. But she knows not to bite or scratch people. Even if you purposefully irritate her, she warns you with her words and her paws before giving a play-bite that doesn’t scratch the skin. She knows that ‘No’ means you stop and walk away. Anyone can touch her. Anyone at all can pick her up. She doesn’t scratch the furniture; she scratches her posts. I think the difficulty with training cats is that you must be very consistent with food-based motivation.
Prilla used to be very well trained even beyond that. She’d come when called. I was getting her to be used to the carrier. After that I was going to teach her fetch. But with the days I’ve been away for Thanksgiving and Christmas, she’s forgotten those tricks.
I did learn that she actually likes me. She’s gotten friendlier with people while I’m around. My friend who cat sat was surprised that Prilla turned into a sour puss without me. I was surprised to hear that she was unfriendly without me around. I was even more surprised to come back to a needy cuddly cat. Literal non stop purring for the first day I was back. I was a little touched, but also felt a bit guilty for leaving her. Maybe she needs some sort of interactive toy going when I’m gone for more than a day?
Now she knows I’m not leaving for good so she’s back to being an independent young cat. We have a new routine where she sits with me in the morning as I check my email. But she’s reassured that I’m not permanently leaving her. Comfortable enough to get irritated with me anyway!
I want to get her back to being very very well trained. It takes a lot of patience and consistency to train any animal. But also with a cat, you have to motivate them to be interested in the training. Prilla doesn’t necessarily want to please me. We’re more roommates than pack mates. So playfulness in the training and rewards for smalls steps keep her interested. Of course, each session should be a little bit more difficult. Prilla likes to test how close she really needs to get in order to receive a treat.
A while ago I got her a vest and leash for walking outdoors. One day I could be walking Prilla around Boston like Dali did with Babou. Maybe when it’s warmer.