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Service Cats What’s The Easiest Task To Train

Meowllo and welcome to another Miserable Monday. Dat means it’s time fur another educational Service Cats posty. It’s also Labor day here in da U.S., and we gotta tell ya’ we seriously thought ‘bout lettin’ mommy have da day off. You know, no laborin’ on labor day?. But we got some great questions from our last Service Cats posty, so we thought we’d give ya’ some answers. Let me say dat some of da training questions we’re bein’ asked apply or can/should apply to all cats, not just Service Cats. We are covering them under the Service Cats posts, because Service Cats must be well behaved in general. Training a Service Cat isn’t just training the specific duties they will perform, but also good behavior. As with all our educational posts the following will be written in human English. Ifin you’ve missed any of da posts in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ da links below.

Part 1: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/service-cat-what-to-look-for/  

Part 2: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/service-cat-training-foundation/  

Part 3: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/service-cats-how-to-train-kitty-to-massage-without-claws/  

Part 4: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/service-cats-smelling-disease/ 

Part 5: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/service-cats-do-you-need-one/ 

Part 6: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/service-cats-who-bears-the-cost/   

Part 7: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/service-cats-housing-laws-and-exceptions/  

Part 8: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/service-cats-accommodations-and-common-sense/  

Part 9: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/service-cats-what-happens-when-the-handler-dies/  

Part 10: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/service-cats-proper-training-methods/ 

Part 11: https://dezizworld.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/service-cats-proper-training-methods-part-2/ 

 

 

Dezi getting mommy loving and petting.

 

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s see what today’s question is. Awnty Jean, Shoko and Kali from the Canadian Cats asked, “How long does it take to train the average kitty to perform an “action” properly? And “Is there something they learn quicker than others, and why?” Well now those are great questions. Initially the first thing you want to train any cat/kitten is to know and respond to their name. We’re not trying to be “smart” with this answer. But before any training can commence, it’s important that kitty, doggy, whatever animal you’re dealing with knows their name and will respond to it. This can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Mommy doesn’t allow anyone to call us kitty kitty. The reason for that is because kitty is not our names and it’s very important that we respond to our names every time. As a result of this we do not respond to anyone who says “here kitty kitty”. And yes, any cat/kitten can be trained to respond when called by their name.

 Raena lays in mommys lap and starts to massage

Now, we know this isn’t the answer awnty Jean was truly wondering tho’. She wants to know about those specific tasks we’re trained for like calling 911, massaging mommy or driving her wheelchair. So, we’ll address that now. First, every kitty is different, even within the same breed. Knowing that, you can’t expect each kitty to learn at the same pace. For instance, me was 3 weeks old when me came to live with mommy and sis Lexi, and me started alerting mommy that she was going to pass out within a couple of days. Sis Lexi had always known mommy was going to pass out, but she never alerted to it until watching me do it for about a year. And then suddenly one day, sis Lexi started alerting mommy too. So you could say it took sis Lexi 11 years to learn that task and me, 2 days. But in all fairness, mommy had never thought about training that particular task so she never asked that of Lexi, nor trained her for it.

Lexi lays in mommy's lap and massages

Dat’z da spot mommy. How ’bout you, am I’z gettin

da right spot on your leg here?

Mommy says probably the easiest task to train a kitty to perform is massage. How long does it take to train a kitty to do this? Because it’s an instinctive behavior, it usually only takes a few training sessions before kitty performs perfectly. Remember, Raena was doing this her first night with mommy. It took me a couple of days to learn, and about 2 weeks to learn the specific areas me was to focus on. Now this brings us to another question and a few replies we’ve received. Let’s address the replies first. Several of you said that you had kitties that started out without their claws but eventually those claws came out and of course the massage is no longer enjoyable. Remember we told you that any massages should be performed in a place that was secure for kitty in the event they lost their sense of balance, etc.. The reason kitty loses balance or those claws come back out is because kitty has entered a state of “Euphoria”. That means kitty has entered a state of extreme pleasure and is no longer thinking; they are lost in the moment. A light tap on the paw will rouse kitty and cause the claws to retract again. You can also try speaking to kitty. If you choose to speak, do so in a quiet and calming voice. Mommy will say things like, “Claws in”, “That hurt a bit”, “Thank you”, “That’s enough”. Remember, Training is all about Repetition.

 

 

While we’re on the subject of massage, we need to address another question we got about this. We were asked how to train a kitty to massage in the first place. Meaning, they believe their kitty doesn’t know how to knead at all. Altho’ the possibility for this is exists, especially for bottle fed hand raised kittens, it’s not likely. Kitty is kneading, you just aren’t seeing it. Let’s explain this action and the reason for it. When a kitten is born, ideally they will have a mother cat to raise them. When kitty gets ready to eat, they will latch onto the mothers teat and begin to suckle. This action is then followed by gently kneading around that teat to make more milk come out. If you’ve ever milked a cow, you know that after pulling the teat and dispensing milk, you push up and into the udder of the cow before pulling it back down. This motion allows the teat to fill up with the maximum amount of milk to dispense. Even a kitty who has never fed from a teat will still knead instinctively just like purring. They just may not do it as much or in the open. 

Mommy petting Raena while she sits in her lapIs this right mommy?

So, you believe your kitty doesn’t know how to knead; can you train kitty to do so? The answer is Yes. Remember, this action is instinctual. You just need to get kitty to perform the action around you and for you. This is the point at which an outsider will think you’re crazy, because you’re going to have to get kitty to that Euphoric state before they knead. Think about the things that cause your kittys’ motor boat (purr) to rev up. Mommy used to be able to just look at sis Lexi even from across the room, and she would turn on her purr box so loudly that things around her shook. She would get so excited she would knead the air if she couldn’t get to mommy. I prefer for mommy to rub my chin and coo at me. Mommy will say things like, “I love you Dezi, You’re my sweet angel girl, You’re my beautiful blue eyed angel, Mommy loves her baby, Sweet Dezi,” or she’ll sing the made up songs she sings to me. Let me tell ya’, nothing gets me going faster than mommy singing sweet songs to me. So, once you’ve found kittys’ trigger, keep them going, they will eventually start kneading. Again, they’ve reached that Euphoric state and all actions they perform now are totally instinctual. It’s not uncommon for any kitty in this state to drool as well.

Another option to train kitty is to give them a blanket, bed, throw, etc. made of plush fabric or faux fur. Most kitties love the feel of these materials and automatically knead them. Me has torn up at least one blanket a year, a throw and 2 cat beds. Me can knead those with me’s claws much to mommy’s chagrin. But she allows it because me doesn’t use me’s claws on her.

Dezi kneads the cat bed

So to sum up our answer to today’s question, the easiest task to train a kitty is massage because it’s taking advantage of an instinctual action. Because it’s instinctual, kitty is eager to learn. Training kitty to massage (knead) a specific area can take as little as a few hours to a few months. It takes less time to train a kitten than an adult, but both can be trained.

Dezi and Raena sleep on the lLiberty cat tree

Well now, me’s gonna wrap it up and see ifin me can’t get mommy to take me fur a stroll later. Purrlease feel free to ask your training questions or any other questions you might have in da comment section, or you can email us via our contact page. And by da way, those emails are private. We’re da only ones dat can see them. We hope you all have a relaxing Labor Day. And by da way, mommy said da foto above was one of her favorites cuz Raena and me were sleeping peacefully together on da cat tree.

Do you (does your kitty) knead anything in particular besides your human? 

Do you (your kitty) have a favorite blanket or bed?

Have you had to replace anything because kitty kneaded it to death? 

Till da next time…………………………..Be Blest!!!

Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses

Deztinee and RaenaBelle     

Service Cats: Proper Training Methods

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.

 Dezi cocks head to the side in thought

Service Cats: What to Look For

Service Cats: Training Foundations 

Service Cats: How to Train Kitty to Massage Without Claws

Service Cats: Smelling Disease 

Service Cats: Do You Need One 

Service Cats: Who Bears the Cost

Service Cats: Housing Laws and Exceptions 

Service Cats: Accommodations and Common Sense 

Service Cats: What Happens When the Handler Dies 

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.

 Raena laying on perch

 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.  

 Raena playing with Petafe cheese and mouse toy

 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.

Raena sits pose while playing Who me? I’s would never climb da curtains or

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.

 Dezi lays on cardboard scratcher

Dezi uses sisal scratcher

Raena lays on scratcher

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

 Dezi sits on bench

Mommy says NEVER aim the water stream directly at kitty, especially not the head area. Depending on the proximity you are from kitty and where you hit them, kitty could actually be injured. (Mommy has seen some really powerful water bottles and water guns in the market) Instead, spray a few inches above kitty or in between kitties. Mommy says that clapping, snapping fingers, or a shaker can will also work. Again, don’t do this right in kittys’ ears. A clap from across the room is more than sufficient to get kittys’ attention. Whichever action you take, you should include a firm NO at the same time. Mommy always includes our name. She says that doing so makes sure there’s no mistaking who she’s correcting and what behavior is objectionable. There’s a lot of “No Raena’s” going on around here right now.

 Dezi bathing on top of the Liberty cat tree

 Me’s gonna get a quick bath in befur a nap.

Well, me’s just realized this is a really long posty, so me’s gonna wrap it up now and try to get a nap befur Raena starts in again. She’d put dat battery bunny to shame she has so much energy. Anyways, hope you all have a pawsum day.

Till da next time…………………………………..Be Blest!!!

Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses

Deztinee and RaenaBelle    

Service Cats: What Happens When the Handler Dies

Here we are, another Miserable Monday. Dat means it’s time fur one of our educational Service Cat postys. As always, da followin’ will be written in human English so everypawdy includin’ google translate can read it. Our doggy brofur furiend Easy, really is on top of his game. He asked another great question last week dat we’re gonna try to answer this week. As always, ifin ya’ have any questions, or somethin’ specific you’d like us to cover, purrlease leave it in da comments, or send us an email. Ifin you’ve missed any of da posty’s in this series, you can ketch up by clickin’ da linkys below.

 

Dezi in her work harness on cat ledge

Service Cats: What to Look For 

Service Cats: Training Foundations 

Service Cats: How to Train Kitty to Massage without Claws

Service Cats: Smelling Disease 

Service Cats: Do You Need One

Service Cats: Who Bears the Cost 

Service Cats: Housing Laws and Exceptions 

Service Cats: Accommodations and Common Sense 

     Now that you’re all caught up, let’s get to today’s topics. So what did Easy ask, right? Well here it is, “What happens to a Service Animal when their disabled handler no longer needs them?” 

       We need to remind you that our answers are only as it applies in the U.S., if you live in another Country, the laws/rules may be different. So please check your local regulations.  

Raena reaching out from the perch to alert mommy

Raena Alerting to Syncope incident

So, your first question is probably why would they no longer need the Service Animal? In the event of death or admittance to a nursing home a person would no longer require the assistance of a Service Animal. You must remember as well, that these animals are purchased and under current laws, animals are considered property. For the purpose of this part of the explanation, we will discuss the Service Dogs that the ADA does recognize. Most of these animals are trained by individuals living across the States, belonging to one of a few different groups. Depending on the age of the animal and it’s specific training (ie: guide dog only) and the amount of time spent with the handler, they may opt to take the animal back and re-sell it to another disabled person. They will not refund your payment or pay you any fees for the animal. The family of the disabled handler may choose to keep the animal and let it live out it’s days as the family pet. Some breeds do better at this than others. Remember, these animals are working animals and not pets. They don’t understand retirement.

Before we get to the second part of Easy’s queston, let’s discuss the other Service Animals not yet recognized by the ADA, like cats. We have met a few people who have learned that their cats are alerting them to seizures, etc. that haven’t been trained. Altho’ the Cat/animal is performing a task, it doesn’t meet the current requirements of the ADA since it wasn’t specifically trained. For the purposes of this article, these cats/animals are not included in this topic as they are essentially still pets. So let’s get to those non traditional Service Animals (Cats)

    

Firstly, there are very few trainers for cats and other animals because they’re not recognized by the ADA , so there’s no money in it. And until recently, cats weren’t necessarily seen as trainable. So like us, the disabled handler often trains the animal themselves. Cats are a different species with different needs and bonding abilities. Unlike dogs, cats don’t feel the need to love everybody or make friends with every human they meet. Because of this, re-homing a Service Cat to work for another disabled person is nearly impossible. Altho’ mommy’s never seen or heard of it, we won’t say completely impossible, as it may be done in the future. We will say, we don’t recommend it, as the cat may not perform. Because of the bond that must be formed between a disabled handler and the cat, the services provided will only be for that one specific person for the lifetime of that cat.

 Dezi in stroller

Remember, these cats are working animals and not pets. It is possible for them to continue to live with any family they currently lived with. They will mourn and be confused but with the proper love and attention, it is possible for them to live out their lives peacefully. If there is no family however, what then? Depending on the age and training of the cat, they may or may not be able to rehome as pets. A young kitten, only starting training for example, may be rehomed as a pet or to another who needs similar tasks. Typically by the first year, a Service cat is so bonded with their handler they cannot be separated and thus cannot be rehomed. Keep in mind, these cats and their handlers are together 24/7/365. We don’t want to offend anyone, but no matter how bonded you think you are with your pet, it doesn’t match the bond between a Service Animal and it’s handler. The handler literally relies on the Service Animal for life and vice versa. In this instance humane euthanasia when the handler dies is the best outcome for the animal.

The last part of Easy’s question, was, “Do Service Animals end up in shelters like other animals?”  The idea of a shelter makes us sad for any animal, but the hard truth is, Yes Easy, it is possible for a Service Animal to end up in the shelter. These animals are often put to sleep because they have traits seen as undesireable by adopters, because adopters don’t understand what the animal is doing. A family of the deceased handler who doesn’t know, care or want to take on the animal may take it to the shelter. A working animal will always be a working animal. This speaks to the reason people need to understand a little about breeds before adopting a pet. A herding dog will herd, whether it’s children, sheep or cows. the Service animal will continue to try to perform tasks, and may be considered problematic.

 Raena sits pose

There aren’t currently any rescues specifically for Service Animals to go to live out their lives. However most of those types of places do want a donation or money left in a trust or will. There’s nothing wrong with that, but again, Service Animals are generally owned by people who are on fixed incomes. And again, Service Animals are working animals. They are not pets. Adjusting to life after the loss of their handler is easier for some species and breeds.

This is definitely something to take into consideration when deciding if you need a Service Animal and what kind. Altho’ most people with fixed incomes and considered poor do not leave wills as there’s nothing to leave; if you have a Service Animal we recommend you have a will or directive and someone specified to take care of your Service Animal in the event of your death. Please make sure your Service Animal doesn’t end up in the shelter. For that matter, if you have pets, please make sure you have a plan for them in the event of your death. And the, my ____________ will take care of them isn’t a good enough plan.

 Dezi looking around on the cat tree

Well this has been a really deep post, so we’re gonna wrap it up for now. We do hope we’ve answered your question, and given others something to think about. Again, please leave your questions, thoughts, or topics you’d like us to cover in the comments. 

Do you have a will or designated person to care for your pets in the event of your death? 

Have you discussed alternative solutions with your family and/or Vet? 

Till da next time………………………………….Be Blest!!!

Luv and Hugs and Kitty Kisses

Deztinee and RaenaBelle    

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