Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Brief History of Staff (2 of 4)

While Boo was establishing herself as master of the household, her progeny were making themselves to home. Boo was an incredible cat mother but she was still a cat—these kittens needed human-style discipline. Now, over time, all the kittens (except for Chaos, of course) found loving homes, but in the meantime, they were too many cats in too small a space. It was during this time that I learned the three techniques of cat training (which my lovely wife will be totally scandalized by my telling in public).

First of all, they must know that there is no piece of furniture too big to be moved if a defiant kitten is hiding under it. Sure, it’s a pain and often the effort is more trouble than it’s worth but even if the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, you must move the couch/table/car/mobile home and follow through on their punishment. It’s an important part of drilling into their little heads that you are the dominant species.

Second, you must teach them fear (to fear you specifically) and you must do it in a way that is in their language without being physically cruel. My recommended method is to simply grab them when they’re small and stick their entire head in your mouth. Just hold them there for a second or so (and don’t close your mouth!) then pull them back out. They’ll get the message. Nothing says who’s the dominant predator like realizing that your entire head could be bitten off in one shot. And a lesson learned young sticks with them forever. (Note: In no way do I advocate actually biting the cat or actually harming them. This is just about making a point that even the most rebellious of kitten brains can understand.)

The third technique is rather questionable and may not be suitable for everyone but it worked for me. I was faced with (at the time) a half-dozen kittens, all of whom seemed to feel obligated to begin marking territory at the same time. I could tell the whole story but I’m pretty sure my Good Lady Wife would have a fit and forbid it so let me simply give you the general principle: Once you demonstrate to all the would-be kingdom markers that you can mark more territory in seconds than they could hope to in a week, they should be intimidated into surrendering. It worked for me. One ‘demonstration’ and there was never—NEVER—another ‘marking’ issue. Desperate times call for desperate measures and the results seem to have justified the procedure.

1 comment:

Starbuck O'Shea said...

When I was a teen, I used to tell our cats that I could break them in half. It never bothered them that I could tell. They all loved me and came when I called. Even let me carry them on my shoulders, which I can't do anymore.

Outdoor cats, though. And I fed them. :D

I have had discussions with indoor cats far more often. We're sharing space, there's always gonna be struggle... particularly wrt marking!