Well it’s Miserable Monday and da beginning of another work week. It’s also time fur another Service Cat posty. Furst mommy and me would like to thank you all for your kind words with regards to yesfurdays Blest Sunday posty. We are still working through our feelings over losing sis Lexi, and purrobably always will be. But one thing is certain, we are extremely blest to have had her in our lives. Now, as with all our educational posts, da following will be written in human English. Ifin you’ve missed any posts in da series, you can ketch up by clicking da links below.
Now that you’re all caught up, let’s talk more about training today. We didn’t get any questions from our last couple of posts, so we’re not sure which direction you all would like us to go, but we need to expand on training a bit. We have been asked where mommy learned her training methods. Years ago she started out training dogs. Once she fell into the clutches of a cat, she quickly learned she had to modify her training techniques to fit the feline behavior and mind. Most of what she learned she learned from raising motherless kittens. As most of you know, the mother and littermates would train a kitten to use the litterbox, how hard and when to bite, scratch, play and everything else a new kitten would need to know to survive. Kittens who lose their mothers before learning these things can grow up to be unruly and/or have a lot of behavioral issues. But even the kitten with an ideal upbringing can still benefit from a little training.
Last week we told you that positive reinforcement is the best and proper method to train a cat. Negative reinforcement in very limited amounts has it’s place (the ear biting technique we discussed last week). Positive reinforcement can be anything from a treat to a hug or pat. Get to know your kitty, and you’ll quickly learn what their preference is. We also stated that most cats are not ruled by their tummies, so treats are not always effective training tools. Please, Do Not starve your non food motivated kitty in order to treat train. Mommy prefers to use other rewards anyways.
Last week we talked about inappropriate scratching, and offering appropriate options for kitty to use and even how to get kitty to use them. Remember if kitty is exhibiting behavioral problems, see your VET and rule out any illnesses before proceeding with any training. A sick cat, or one in pain will not learn no matter what method you try. We’ve been asked about how mommy trains us to massage her and what to do about kitty claws. We briefly covered this in a post above, but the question has been asked since then as well, so we thought we’d go over it again. Because we are Ragdolls and soft pawed, we don’t use our claws. But Shad, Devon, Lucky, Ransom and Lexi all had claws that needed to stay retracted, so mommy learned a technique that with repetition will work.
Kitty massage is merely kitty kneading that has been focused to a specific area. Almost all kitties knead. Mommy starts training massage as soon as kitty first starts to knead her. It’s never too early or too late to train kitty to retract their claws. Once kitty starts kneading, (usually a leg while sitting or laying in your lap) which is a push and pull with the paws; mommy lightly taps kittys paws when the claws come out. At the same time, she will say “ouch” and make a whimpering sound, or say “no claws” or “it hurts” followed by a small whimper. Typically kitty will splay open their paws, stop kneading and look up. Mommy smiles and asks kitty to massage her again while stroking kittys’ head, neck and/or face/chin; focusing on the scent gland areas. Typically kitty will start kneading again, but instead of a push and pull, kitty will push hard and almost pick up their paws to draw back. This may not happen the first or second or even tenth time, but repetition and sticking to the same method of training will cause kitty to eventually get it.
Once kitty is proficient in massage, it’s time to move them to the area you need massaged. For mommy, that’s just about everywhere, but let’s say your issue is migraines and you want a head massage. Mommy finds laying down to be the best for her, but if you have a chair with a back that kitty can lay on without falling off of and can reach your head, you can sit up for your massage. Let’s go with laying down. Either carry kitty with you or call kitty to come to you once you’ve laid down. Place kitty beside or behind your head, depending on how your bed is made up and where you are laying. Remember, wherever kitty is laying must be stable without the possibility of kitty falling off. Kitty will become euphoric during the massage process and thus lose their sense of balance. They may also drool and/or nuzzle.
Once you and kitty are in place, start petting the head and face and speaking softly to kitty until kitty starts kneading. At this point the knead will mostly be a pushing. Keep your head in place, don’t move it with the push. Begin to praise and thank kitty at this point. Mommy always says things like “Thank You”, or “That feels so good”, and always, “I love you”. At some point during the session, comment about how your migraine is feeling better. Be specific. There will come a time when you are able to say, “I have a migraine” or “I need a massage” and kitty will automatically get into position to give you one. You can use the same technique for any part of your body. Always remember, training is all about Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.
Well there ya’ have it, mommy’s training tips on kitty massage. Mommy says there’s nothin’ better for a migraine, than a purring massaging kitty. We do want to remind you that kitty should not eat your hair, and anytime pawssible, the hair should be clean of hair products as a lot of those products are hazardous to kitty. Me’s gonna wrap it up now and see ‘bout getting’ a nap in and maybe even a stroll later today. Please leave any questions or topics you’d like us to cover in da comment section below.
Till da next time………………………………….Be Blest!!!
Is there something you need help training your cat to do?
If there was a kitty kindergarten like there is for dogs, would you be interested?
Would you take (have taken) kitty to socialization training classes?
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle
Meowllo and welcome to another Blest Sunday. Today is a day fur ‘memberin’ and so mommy wanted to say a few things ‘bout sis Lexi. She’s never written ‘bout this, so purrlease bear with her. Ifin you missed sis Lexi’s goodbye posty you can read it here. Mommy will cover some things dat those of you who have followed us a while already know, but we do have new followers dat don’t know sissy.
Thank you baby. As most of you know I’m just mommy Audra. I give the girls their voice to come to all of you. They are so full of personality and love that writing through them is much easier, especially when it comes to the heartbreaking moments in our lives. When Lexi left us to go to heaven it was only natural to let her say goodbye. I felt like if I added anything to that it would signify closure. And I wasn’t ready to close the book on that part of my life, and I’m still not. So this post isn’t closure, it’s merely a small look into my feelings on the matter. Lexi had been the biggest and best part of my life for the almost 17 years she was with me. And now suddenly it was over and people wanted me to get over it and move on.
From the time Lexi came into my life, when she was 10 minutes old, till the moment she went to be with God, we had never been apart. We’d never spent a night away from each other, and never more than a couple of hours throughout a day. She’d traveled from Oklahoma to Mississippi with me when my aunt died, and we’d moved every year for the first 4 years of her life. The really funny thing is, Lexi was never supposed to be my forever cat.
She was merely another of a 100 fosters that was to go through my home that kitten season. She was tiny. Smaller than most. I and the vet figured it had something to do with her birth, but it didn’t seem to affect her, so we didn’t worry about it. And it all changed when she grew up. She was a huge cat weighing in at around 30 pounds during her healthy adult life. Anyways, when she was finally 6 weeks old, the rescue wanted her at the adoption events, so off we would go. Those days weren’t good for her. She would come home and fight with my resident cats, who learned to give her a wide berth on those days. And then the day came when an application came in for her. My heart sank. But I put a “happy” in my voice and told her she might have a forever home. That just seemed to make her angry and she lashed out and drew blood from my oldest resident cat. As soon as she did it, she ran and jumped in my lap and purred louder and longer than I’d ever heard. I bawled. Of course I took care of Devon, but I cried so hard I was convulsing.
Why had I been so disappointed about the application? Lexi obviously wasn’t happy, so why was I thinking about keeping her? Well I called the rescue president and told her what had happened and her response without giving it a second thought was, “We can’t adopt her out. Take her to the vet and kill her.” All I heard was Kill Her! They had wanted to do that the day she came in because she was too black, and now they were going to get their chance. Well, that did it for me, I told them no and that she would stay with me. I picked her up and explained to her that she was going to be with me forever and that I was going to love her forever, and changed her name (it used to be Lana) and gave her a big kiss. She understood everything and immediately started to purr. The boys sensed the change as well and they all became the best of friends. They laid together, played together and groomed each other. Life was good.
We lost Devon and then Lucky, and Lexi and I carried on. Lexi and I would lose another before Dezi joined us. I just never thought it would be Lexi. She was going to live forever, you know? When she got sick, we fought. I researched and learned all I could. I did the very best for her and she knew it and fought right alongside of me, till she just didn’t. I know it’s stupid and selfish, but all I could think is why would she want to leave me? I needed her. I loved her. How could this be happening? I screamed at God to “fix her”, make her all better, and that He couldn’t have her. She had gladly taken anything I gave her, allowed me to do whatever I needed to her, and suddenly, she was refusing. She was struggling as much as her frail body could struggle. I would watch her try to move from one spot to another and fall over because she was so weak. Those last days I spent in tears. I cried so much I thought eventually there’d be no tears left. But alas, tears are replenishing and I still cry. I still scream at God.
I try to believe that God needed her more than me, but nobody ever needed anyone as much as I needed Lexi. We had developed an almost symbiotic relationship. We moved together, and knew each others thoughts, sometimes before we had them. When she left, it was like half of me went with her…the better half. The half that knew what to do and when to do it. I basically shut down and just went through the motions. I’m getting better now, but I will always want my Lexi back. I will always love her and miss her and remember her. It will always be “yesterday” for me. She taught me so much about pure love and devotion. Through her I learned that there are still good people in the world. Because of her I have some very good friends that adore my girls. Because of Lexi we were featured on an internet radio program to talk about Service Cats. Because of Lexi, there’s all of you.
I know to a lot of people, she was just a black tabby cat. But to me, she was Perfection. She was Love. She was my baby and so much more. I was so blest to have her, even if it was for just a moment in time. And the world is a better place because of her. Thank you to all of you who loved her and made her special and gave to her of your time, devotion, and gifts. Please know that she knew how much she was loved, and that she did love all of you. Someday, I’ll see her again, and be with her again. Until then, she is now healthy and young and feeling no pain. Thank you for letting my Lexi into your lives, and now my Dezi and Raena.
Fank you mommy. Me so misses sis Lexi. She was da bestest sisfur a girly could ask fur. She was soooo bootyful and gracious. She taught me to share, and about this innernet thing where all our furiends and uncles and awnties are. We truly are blest. And now we’ve been blest with Raena. Life is still good. ‘Member to take a minute today and everyday to give thanks fur da blessings in your life. We of course are joinin’ da Kitties Blue fur Selfie Sunday with some Lexi flashbacks. Hope you enjoy lookin’ at her as much as we do. Ifin you would like to read ‘bout sis Lexi’s start in life you can do so here and here.
Till da next time…………………………………Be Blest!!!
Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses
Deztinee and RaenaBelle
and mommy Audra
Well here we are, another Miserable Monday. Da end of da weekend and da start of peeps goin’ back to work. We had sun fur da furst time in days yesfurday, but woke up to gray skies and dense fog today. Da weather just doesn’t know what it wants to do. Anyways, today is also Service Cat educational posty day. We didn’t get any questions after last weeks posty, so we’re not sure ifin ya’ll are losin’ innerest in these posts or not. So, ifin ya’ could let us know in da comments, we’d ‘purreciate it. As with all our educational postys, da following will be written in human English. Ifin you’ve missed any post, you can ketch up by clickin’ da linkys below.
We were asked a few posts back to talk about proper training methods. Training is something we think all animals, not just Service Animals can benefit from. We’ve all seen the totally out of control doggy and the doing as it pleases kitty. Unfortunately behavioral problems account for a large percentage of animals taken to shelters; and some of those behaviors could be changed with just a little training and patience. In our Training Foundations post we covered the beginning process mommy chooses to use.
You’s have mines full attention mommy.
There are several acceptable methods of training. If your cat doesn’t respond to one, try another. Hitting, yelling and chasing your kitty Does Not work. Neither does drenching them with water from a water bottle or water gun. Clicker training is probably the best known method these days. It involves a small clicker that the trainer holds and clicks as the animal does what is asked for, followed by a treat. This method is very successful in dog training. Dogs are generally ruled by their tummy and will perform for a treat.
Clicker training can be successful with some cats. Mommy has never used this method per se’, but she does sometimes use a form of it. Long ago when mommy decided to start training Service Kitties she looked in to a clicker. We don’t know the cost these days, but back then it was pretty pricey, and mommy couldn’t afford it. She was already training kitties successfully so she couldn’t justify the cost. However, you can use a finger snap to mimic a clicker. Mommy usually snaps her fingers to get us to pay attention. She doesn’t however follow it up with a treat.
What’s dat mommy? Did you need somethin’?
Treat rewards are the biggest problem mommy has with clicker training. Cats aren’t generally ruled by their tummies and a lot of cats don’t like treats. And too many treats means kitty won’t eat their meal, or they will, and then gain weight and become obese. Positive reinforcement is crucial to train any animal to perform a specific task. Mommy uses praise and love as our reward. It’s not fattening, and it means we will repeat the task even when we don’t get a treat, which would be impossible for her first thing in the morning. Something you may not know, is that most of the handlers of those Service dogs have to carry treats with them to reward the dog off and on throughout the day.
But what about training kitty NOT to do something, such as climb your curtains, stay off the kitchen counters or scratch your brand new leather sofa? Remember, hitting, screaming, chasing or drenching them with water Does Not work. Mommy says the water bottle has it’s place, but if you’re soaking kitty and he/she is still doing the inappropriate behavior, then it obviously isn’t working. And truly, you don’t want kitty to develop a fear of water. Let’s say you’ve ruled out any health issues for kittys’ behavior. Your next step is to offer an appropriate alternative.
jump on da counters.
Let’s talk about inappropriate scratching. All scratchers are not created equal, and not every cat likes the same surface. There are vertical, horizontal and hanging scratchers. Watch kitty to see if he/she has a preference. There are many different textures as well, corrugated cardboard, carpet, sisal and wood. Again, your cat probably has a preference for one of these textures. It may take some time to figure out which, but once you do, you can successfully offer kitty an appropriate scratching surface. The best option would be to have several scratchers of different textures available, as well as vertical and horizontal. Always make sure the scratcher is the right size for your kitty and that it is stable. You can also make a scratcher for your kitty by covering a surface with their favorite material, especially if it’s leather. Place said scratcher next to the area kitty’s scratching and the next time kitty scratches, move him/her over to the new scratching surface and place their paws on it. Initially it might be helpful to take kittys’ paws and mimic scratching on the new surface, as this encourages kitty. And a little catnip on the new scratcher never hurt any kitty either. You must be repetitive in order to stop the offensive behavior completely.
Mommy says that you must speak with a firm tone when training, but Never react in anger. And if there are several people in a household, all parties must be on the training bandwagon. Especially for correcting inappropriate behavior. Now let’s talk a minute about that water bottle so many cat peeps have on hand. And yes, mommy has one too. Here’s mommys’ list of reasons to use the water bottle:
To break up a Cat Fight
To stop a fight you see coming on by distracting kitties