Cat rituals

I’ve been conditioning our cat. From the first day we had her, I did this little thing in which I’d tap on a glass to make it ring a few times before feeding her, with the idea that if ever she escaped outside we’d just ring the dinner bell and she’d come running. Only it’s kind of backfired. She now expects dinner and a show.

Now every morning when I get up (and every evening when I get home), she follows me around — actually, she leads me around. I step into the hallway, she runs around my feet, then darts towards the kitchen…and if I go the other way, she looks disappointed, follows me for a bit, with occasional diversions in the direction I was supposed to go. My purpose at these times is entirely about walking towards the kitchen and her food bowl.

When I do arrive at the proper destination, she sits before her bowl. She looks at me. She looks at the bowl. She looks at me some more. It doesn’t matter if there’s plenty of food in the bowl — like this morning, when she’d barely touched her food overnight, there was still the all-important ritual to be performed, and if I didn’t do it, she’d pursue me until I did. So I do. I take her full bowl, I dump it into the bag of cat food, I scoop up some ‘fresh’ food into it, I ring the bell, I deliver it to her. She takes a few bites, and then she strolls away and ignores me for a while.

I know exactly what she’s thinking. “Dance, monkey, dance. Entertain me now.” Also, “You thought you could condition me? I shall show you who pulls the strings.”


  1. thelastholdout says

    And that is why I prefer dogs. They treat you like a best friend or family instead of staff.

  2. latsot says

    And that’s why I prefer cats. Only a cat can achieve that narrow-eyed “well-played…..THIS TIME” expression when you get the better of them.

    Cats do love their rituals, though, sometimes quite elaborate ones. My cat likes to completely change her rituals every so often, presumably to keep me on my toes. It’s kind of like Kato from the Pink Panther movies but less racist and more violent.

  3. curbyrdogma says

    Yep, cats will train you once they associate an action with a reaction. (FWIW, the sound of the desert rain frog video on YouTube [“World’s cutest frog”] has always worked well for retrieving a wayward cat…)

  4. Anri says

    It seems fairly easy to train a cat to perform a specific act – sometimes a bit too well, see below – but I have not had any luck at all in training a cat not to perform a specific act.
    What’s frustrating is that they clearly understand punishment and can associate it with a given action – you see them brace to get yelled at – but they just go right on ahead and do it anyway.

    As far as cat training, I have managed to instill in our older cat the idea that she should get down out of the computer desk chair in the morning. All I did was ignore her so long as she was in the chair, and lavishly praise her when she hopped down. Unfortunately, she learned a bit too well, and will now dash across the floor to hop up into, and then back down out of, that chair to get petted.
    And, sucker that I am, I play along, as I’m afraid of diluting the ‘get down out of the chair’ reaction.

  5. latsot says

    Cats can be trained in exactly the same way as dogs. You might need a little more patience, you might need to get creative, but the same principles apply. If you really want to train a cat, use a clicker, a system of rewards and a LOT of training examples. Balance the rewards when the desired behaviour is accompanied via the undesirable (eg cat comes when called but stops to shred the sofa on the way). They’ll keep learning forever so you’ll need to keep the training up. I assume they and dogs understand goals, rewards and punishment a little differently, insofar as they understand them at all. So just adapt a little.

    But I’ll say this: if you’re training a cat to do much more than not use the house as a toilet and to come when it’s called, there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong. Cats are fun *because* their love is conditional, *because* they confound your best efforts at a quiet life. People too.

    Having said that, it’s fun and easy to get cats playing fetch. People too.

  6. barbaz says

    A couple of years ago, my cats started occasionally having fights in the middle of the night. Because it was so annoying, one night I thought maybe they’ll be quiet if I give them some food. Biggest mistake of my life.

  7. latsot says


    It’s a funny meme but not true. What cats have are rivals. Rivals can be dominant, subordinate or equal. You can decide which you are.

  8. says

    The best thing about training cats – they’re jerks about performing tricks.

    My kitty Houdini (he’s huge!) does this adorable thing where he’ll put his paws together and kind of does this beggy motion. He does it all the time. Unless we have company. Then he’ll pretend he doesn’t know what the fuck we’re talking about.

  9. Lofty says

    Yessss! Our cats get quite annoyed if their learned behaviour doesn’t elicit the food drop they’ve come to expect.

  10. latsot says


    He does it all the time. Unless we have company. Then he’ll pretend he doesn’t know what the fuck we’re talking about.

    That’s because he doesn’t recognise the situations as the same. You can also think of it as him not wanting to perform or as trying to show you up, it doesn’t matter. Cats take cues for their behaviour from all around, from everything that’s happening around them. And their mood, of course. Their begging for food from you isn’t *at all* the same thing as their begging for food when other people are around too. It’s not something you should expect from cats, although you can train them to do that kind of thing if you must.

  11. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Just before we go to sleep, my wife and I will often sit in bed and watch an episode of Doctor Who on DVD. Our cat has become used to this routine, so when we go into our bedroom, she’s usually curled up just under where Sarah’s feet go, looking at us like “Okay, turn the show on, guys.”

  12. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    Our cats do that leading to the kitchen behavior, too. I just ignore them if the bowl is full. You don’t have to worry about not rewarding her in case she doesn’t come next time: Behavior that is intermittently rewarded is harder to extinguish.

    We’ve had modest success feeding our cats a spoonful of canned food at night. That’s their treat: it gets them in and we then lock the cat door to keep them in and raccoons out. If your cats go out, a cat door is a convenience for both you and them: their instinct is to patrol the perimeter and return to home base–doors just get in the way. However, if you have small wild varmints that might come in, place the cat door in a window with ledges on either side so that the cat has to jump up or down to use it. Then you can leave it working day and night. Everyone’s happier with a well placed cat door.

  13. sqlrob says

    @thelastholdout, #1

    And that is why I prefer dogs. They treat you like a best friend or family instead of staff

    *snork* Yeah, right.

    Quite frequently near supper time the dog will ask to be let out. Then when we get up to let him out, he runs over and stares at the food container.

  14. Jackie says

    This is why I make sure never to be the person who feeds the cats in the morning. Whoever does it is not allowed to sleep in, ever. So, I gave the job to the kids. They rise at the crack of dawn anyway. Even though I’m often the first one up, the cats do not bother me for food. They swarm the children instead. Muhahaha.
    The dogs on the other hand think of me as the food lady. They are conditioned to a certain feeding ritual at certain times of day. At 3:30 pm they get dinner. That means that starting at about 2pm, they do the same sort of dance PZ’s cat does every time I go near the hallway. It’s obnoxious. My dogs are big and will step on feet. So one day to make them leave me alone I fed them at 2pm. The next day the dance began around 1pm. I saw where that was going and now it’s 3:30 and not a second before.
    At night we have another ritual. The unspoken rule is that our bed and closet shelves belong to the cats during the day. At night, we used to put them out before retiring. We haven’t had to do that in a while. Now, we walk in the room for bed and they stretch, hop down and walk out.
    They also get excited when we open the curtains in the morning because it means they can sit and watch the birds at the feeder. Occasionally, one of them gets overly excited and we hear a “thunk” as a kitty face hits the window.

    It’s all worth it. I love all our critters.

  15. frog says

    My cat does that with no bell involved. He just knows that when I’m done with my monkey routine upstairs, the next step is I go down to the kitchen and put food in his bowl. Like your cat, mine will sit there beside the full bowl and wait for me to put fresh food in.

    I usually just add a little to the top of whatever’s in there. But sometimes he refuses to eat the bottom half inch of food no matter what. I’ll have to try the trick of dumping it back into the bag and then scooping “fresh” food. My cat is smart (for a cat), but I don’t think he’s got “object permanence” down, so it should work. Thanks for the tip!

  16. 2kittehs says

    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao @12

    My kitty Houdini (he’s huge!) does this adorable thing where he’ll put his paws together and kind of does this beggy motion.

    Our Hadji used to do the same thing. We said he was saying his prayers (probably to Ceiling Cat, despite him being a black kitty – he was too sweet to be Teh Evil).

    He went one better than not doing it when visitors were around. He’d disappear under the bed. One of my girlfriends called him the imaginary cat.


    I know exactly what she’s thinking. “Dance, monkey, dance. Entertain me now.” Also, “You thought you could condition me? I shall show you who pulls the strings.”

    But of course. You didn’t really think you were boss of one of the Furrinati, did you?

  17. daffodil says

    I have trained my munchkin cat Ophelia to stand up and beg when she wants her toy. Now she’s a total pain in the ass because she knows I can’t resist her cuteness when she stands and meows at me. If I ignore her, she will stand there on her hind legs for several minutes at a time, meowing and waving her front paws. I’d attach a photo, but I don’t know how here.
    And consider yourself lucky that your cat’s built in alarm clock doesn’t make them climb all over you like mine do half an hour before my real alarm goes off. I woke up this morning with two cats sitting on my hip and one above my head. Just for three bites of canned food.

  18. A. Noyd says

    Anri (#5)

    What’s frustrating is that they clearly understand punishment and can associate it with a given action – you see them brace to get yelled at – but they just go right on ahead and do it anyway.

    It’s so true. I blow hard in my cat’s face to try to discourage her from smearing her nose all over my cheek and chin when she’s cuddling. She hates it, but keeps making squint-eyed feint after squint-eyed feint till she lands that cold, slimy nose somewhere.

    At least I did manage to train her to wait outside my very tiny kitchen when I’m filling food bowls and not go in till I say she can. It’s not big enough for multiple creatures and I’m not always in there to fill bowls, so it gets ridiculous if she’s under my feet.

  19. HappyHead says

    Dogs can be just as pattern-addicted as cats. My dog used to get very upset with whoever was feeding him if it wasn’t at exactly six o’clock, or if they forgot to give him his pills first.

  20. Tigger_the_Wing, asking "Where's the justice?" says

    We gave the task of feeding the cats to my three-year-old grandson. They now ignore everyone except him, he’s forgiven (by them – not us) for his occasional chasing of them, and he feels responsible and grown-up, like his big brothers who take turns in feeding the dogs.

    The funniest animals, though, are the sheep. Son-out-Law is the one who feeds them their evening supplement. At first, they ran away every time they saw him. Then they stopped running if he had a bucket in his hand, although they kept their distance until the bucket was emptied into the troughs. Then they started coming to him when he had the bucket, and followed him to the troughs.

    Soon they started coming to the fence as soon as they saw him, and bleated at him to feed them – regardless of the time of day. It got so as he couldn’t even step outside the back door without being greeted with a chorus of “BAAaaaaa” and a row of expectant faces.

    Then, one day, he went to work by motorbike. When he got home, he didn’t remove his helmet as he walked to the house – and, although some raised their heads to look at him pass, none of the sheep moved or made a sound. He walked in, removed his helmet, went outside again – “BAAaaaaa”!

    Perhaps sheep aren’t quite as stupid as we think they are.

  21. hillaryrettig says

    My dogs do all that plus lick their chops in a very obvious way, because apparently I’m too dumb to figure it out from all the other cues. :-)

    I’ve also seen one dog go over to the other and wake him up from a nap specifically so he could get some help in making the case.

  22. wcorvi says

    Wait just a minute – last we heard, PZ was trying to give that cat away! I guess that operation failed? When are we going to be subjected to the cute kitty pics and videos?

  23. Ewan R says

    My cat is very similar. She must be fed at ~8pm and ~7am every day.

    She appears to grant about 20-30 minutes of latitude, so if I feed her at 7:30pm she will not bother me again, but if I make the mistake of feeding her at 7:00pm… there will be hell to pay at 8. Although I can simply move her food around a bit in her bowl and this appears to suffice.

  24. cgilder says

    Eric @16 We do the same thing at night, and our siamese knows it. We call it reaching critical mass, because as soon as my husband and I get within about 2 feet of each other on the bed, Timaeus is there, wedging himself underneath one of our chins. Fortunately, he tolerates/loves just being shoved under the covers between us, so we arent trying to watch Dr. Who with cat fluff in our mouths.

  25. cgilder says

    And, because I am shameless, I should point out that if you live in Austin, I currently have 6 mind-meltingly adorable foster kittens right now, all looking for their new families. Siamese, ginger, brown tabby, cow-spots, tortie, and black fluffballs, all great with young kids and other cats.

  26. says

    Our cat’s rituals have changed with the years. She’s an old lady now, and has decided to pester us into making the bed each morning so we can lay her collection of flat paper bags on it and she can then snuggle on them. I really thought I wouldn’t have anyone pestering me to make the bed after I moved out of my parents’ house. She also has a pretty good internal clock, and appears precisely at 6 AM meowing loudly (she’s deaf now so she can no longer hear herself, therefore the all-hours meows have gotten louder and louder) for her morning feeding.

  27. says

    latsot @6:

    Having said that, it’s fun and easy to get cats playing fetch.

    I’ve had cats since I was 15 (39 now), and I love them dearly. Never thought to try training them, and certainly never gave thought to the idea that they could play fetch. Wow.

  28. cgilder says

    One of my favorite fosters from the past years was a kitten who adopted an Angry Birds plush toy as his lovey (to the point where it went with him when he was adopted). He would play fetch for HOURS with that toy and just carry it around the house in his mouth, despite it being half the size of his body. His new family sends me videos and he is still obsessed with it. (He also adores children, to the point of tolerating being dressed up and having his claws painted. I have never met a cat who actively preferred the company and antics of children over adults, but thats Milo for you.)

  29. normolsen says

    I perform a similar ritual with my cat, but with him it’s about the water. It has to be fresh-from-the-tap cold water; nothing else will do. If he decides it’s not quite up to his standard, he’ll go into the bathroom, jump up on the counter, and star at the tap until someone turns it on so that he can drink directly from the running stream of water.

  30. says

    When I pull out a can of wet cat food(as a treat), my huge Maine Coon Cat Marshmallow will come and sniff the container. Then, I ask, “where does it go?” He dutifully walks over to the dish, cries and me and then paws at the food dish. Only then does he get his treat. He also will sit on the floor staring at you if you have something sitting on the footrest of the couch(like, say, your legs). No crying, just a disconcerting stare. Finally, when you clear the obstacle, he’ll leap up and snuggle down on the footrest. He’s trained us well.

  31. magistramarla says

    Since my dog is a service animal, it’s preferable that I feed him, since that is part of the bonding as a working couple.
    Hubby took advantage of that and left the kitty feeding to me.
    Every morning all three of them gather at the bedroom door after the hubby leaves for work. When I open the door all three vocalize while herding me toward the laundry room for food. Part of the ritual is for the dog to go outside while I’m filling bowls, and he insists upon going out, even if the hubby has already let him out earlier.
    We also go through a ritual before Conner can dig into his food. He sits on the laundry room rug and we go through a series of commands, which might include up downs, shake, say “thank you” (two short sharp barks), stand, etc. Sometimes we practice doing it all with only hand signals, since my voice is sometimes not there. He’s so good at self-discipline, we can put a sandwich on the floor, tell him “leave it” and walk away, knowing that he won’t eat it.
    We can put cat treats and a dog treat in front of him, tell him “leave it”, call the cats over to get their treats first and he will wait until we tell him “OK” to dig into his treat.
    Our cats do the same thing that PZ mentioned with insisting that I add more to the bowls even if there is still plenty in there. I get the food bag out and add just a few kibbles, which seems to satisfy them.
    Hubby and his spoiled rotten Maine Coon cat have a ritual when he comes home. Dax greets him at the door and is miffed if he doesn’t get immediate attention. Hubby picks him up, holds him like a baby to give him a good belly rub, and often sits down to rock him like a baby. That cat also insists on lying on one side of his laptop when they spend their evening in the recliner. Dax sprawls out upside down on the chair arm, with Hubby’s arm on his belly. They will often nap on the chair, and they both snore!
    My flame point Siamese named Casper acts more like a normal cat most of the time, but he is aptly named because he’s mostly white and is overly friendly. He follows anyone, even the exterminator, begging for a petting.
    Since our children and grandchildren have all moved out, those three animals give us endless love and amusement.

  32. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Oh, cat stories! What a wonderful distraction.

    We currently have 4 black cats.

    Little One’s cat is the spitting image of the typical Halloween cat. Slim with those golden yellow eyes. She of many names: Scrappy, Houdini, Catdog. She gets in every cabinet and can close the door behind her so we don’t see that she’s inside eating all the things. Or destroying all the things. She also routinely tries to break out. She’s figured out how to open our windows, latch and all. Now, she’s working on figuring out the double lock system we’ve got working. She’s also very cuddly with Little One and loves licking her. She also plays fetch and comes when Little One calls her. We’ve also got to police the dishes because she’ll lick everything clean and steal any food she get ahold of.

    Roomie’s second cat sits behind his chair on a table and meows for him to turn around. When he doesn’t she starts tapping his shoulder with a paw. She also sleeps with him and follows him around to guard his steps.

    Roomie’s first cat is an oddball. She’ll meow at the ceiling fan like a wolf at the moon. She tries to eat everything plastic. If you bend, kneel or sit, she’ll jump on your shoulder to be a parrot, meowing conversation in your ear included of course. She’s the only cat here that walks on keyboards often, follows your mouse on the computer screen, and sit on any paper you’re trying to work on. At least we’ve got her to stop pissing on my bed whenever the box isn’t clean enough for the queen or when she’s kicked out of the kitchen when cooking.

    My cat is the lay around and do nothing type. She only bothers me for pets when I lay down, digging her claws into my side, and will not lay next to me or allow me to move. It’s cling to my hip for dear life or she runs away. Very quiet and she has her shelf that she’s laying on constantly. Since it’s shoulder high, everyone pets her as they walk by, which we do often since it’s by the hallway next to the bathroom. Smart.

    Feeding is hectic. They swarm you. Set the bowls down for a second next to the bag and they pounce on the chance. Then there’s the dominance game when the bowls go down of who gets first, who gets what bowl and generally being a pain. There’s a rough time schedule and dear god do they let you know when they are out of food. They’ll all meow and all of a sudden become lap cats. Then there’s the problem of them getting into the cabinets and eating that way. Even when their bowls are full. Houdini lead the charge but now they’ve all copy-catted that technique. She’s still the only one getting in high cabinets and on top of the fridge (etc.) though.

  33. magistramarla says

    My cat does the same thing with the water. He follows me to the bathroom so that he can drink from the faucet.
    It’s hilarious to see that 17 lb. cat curled up in the bathroom sink. He’ll try to catch the drips before they land on him and won’t leave the sink until I turn up the water and he gets wet.

  34. frog says

    On fetching:

    My cat has a natural tendency to play fetch, but not the way a dog plays. A dog fetches to make you happy. A cat fetches to make you throw the object again. (Or maybe a dog just has less patience and wants to give chase again right away.)

    My cat’s favorite is rubber bands (the big kind used for book manuscripts). I’ll wave one and he’ll get all tense and ready to chase. Then I shoot it (across the room or down the stairs). He runs after it, rolls around “fighting” it for a minute or two, then brings it back to me in his own sweet time. If I get up and go to another part of the house, he’ll come find me with it in his mouth and drop it at my feet. Not close to my feet of course. I have to at least stretch, if not actually get out of the chair, to pick it up. Because cats don’t do anything for human convenience.

    He’ll also chase little balls of paper. With either object, he’s good for maybe 4 or 5 repetitions before he gets bored and wanders away.

  35. freemage says

    Our ShiShi has mastered the Fine Art of Scratching Post Deflection. If she’s just done something meriting a scolding (or even, possibly, the dreaded squirt bottle), she immediately dashes for the scratching post, and begins clawing at it, because she knows that she gets praise and gentle speech (and often pets) for that.

  36. 5Up Mushroom says

    We had to do much the same thing for our cats. They refused to eat from their bowl until it had been “Blessed”. Later in their life the food bowl was replaced by an automatic feeder, and we still had to walk down to the basement and touch the food before they would eat it. We always joked about “Blessing” the food for them. It’s a bit like Kosher products.

  37. Alverant says

    Don’t be too hard on cats. We humans have our routines as well. We find comfort in them and they give us a sense of normalcy. How many of us would not like to have the wait staff at our favorite restaurant know us on sight and have a good idea about what we’re going to order when we sit down?

  38. says


    How many of us would not like to have the wait staff at our favorite restaurant know us on sight and have a good idea about what we’re going to order when we sit down?

    I’ve worked at many restaurants and have seen how much guests appreciate this (hell, I can still remember the orders and drinks for more than a few of my regulars over the years)

  39. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Her Royal Highness, Pixel the Cat, Princess of Smug, has a few fun (and she is quite aware of just how adorable they are) rituals.

    She’s long haired, so she needs a lot of brushing. Luckily, she enjoys being brushed and even furminated. She jumps up on one specific arm of the couch and will look expectantly, usually at me, since Pix isn’t so fond of the way my wife brushes her. Usually, when I get home from work, she’ll do her double chirp ‘hello’ (she rarely actually meows) and jump up on the arm of the couch.

    My favorite ritual of hers is when she wants attention. If we’re standing anywhere, she’ll sit right in front of one of us, make sure she has our attention, then stand on her hind legs and reach up with her front to be picked up. Rather like having all the best aspects of having a toddler around with few to none of the downsides. :)

  40. geekysteve says

    Tony @34,

    Several of our cats have been “fetchers” over the years, but, as others have pointed out, always on their own terms. One in particular would bring foam rubber “golf balls” to us several times a day and expect us to “give it a good throw”.

    And it HAD to be a good throw or she would look at us with utter scorn and refuse to even bother chasing after it. A Good Throw was defined (by her) as “down the hall, past the jig-jag and completely out of sight”. Only then would she bother to “hunt”.

  41. chigau (違う) says

    We solved the non-retrieval problem by playing catch.
    Rolling a ball down a long hallway to the person at the other end.
    Cat would lie in wait and nab it as it went by.

  42. LicoriceAllsort says

    I did this little thing in which I’d tap on a glass to make it ring a few times before feeding her, with the idea that if ever she escaped outside we’d just ring the dinner bell and she’d come running.

    I did this with my kittehs and am happy that it still works as well as it does, 10 years later. It doesn’t work if there is something sufficiently interesting outside (like another animal) or if they feel too threatened to race to the door (visitors or, occasionally, a bully stray). And of course you have to be okay with the idea of walking the neighborhood tinking a food dish and being a spectacle.

    Just beware of accidentally conditioning them to the sound of the toilet seat and the offer of being unable to run away from petting them.

  43. weatherwax says

    I did the same with a cricket clicker for the same reason, but my cats never demanded the clicker before they would eat. Good thing as my family broke the clicker, and it could’ve been a real problem.

    On the other hand, one day I accidently put the food and water dishes down in reversed positions. A half hour later I found the long haired, Teddy, sitting between them, looking back and forth between the two with a look of helpless confusion. I had to put them back in their proper positions before he could eat.

  44. Cuttlefish says

    I taught one of the Cuttlecats to jump through a hoop… she reliably did that trick, on cue, for 15 years, up to just a month or so before her death.

    I miss that kitty.

  45. A. Noyd says

    JAL (#40)

    She gets in every cabinet and can close the door behind her so we don’t see that she’s inside eating all the things. Or destroying all the things.

    My tabby likes to get into cabinets to play peekaboo paws with my black kitty. I have to keep the ones under the counter in the kitchen taped shut because, even though one of the cabinets would be otherwise fine for them to get into, they bang the doors incessantly while playing.

  46. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    A. Noyd

    My tabby likes to get into cabinets to play peekaboo paws with my black kitty. I have to keep the ones under the counter in the kitchen taped shut because, even though one of the cabinets would be otherwise fine for them to get into, they bang the doors incessantly while playing.

    Oh I wish taping would work for us. And you’re so right about the incessant banging. Just the other night we kept hearing it but even after checking every cabinet (there aren’t many in our tiny apartment), we could not find her. Gave up, it went quiet, and then found her laying on my computer chair. Still no idea how she pulled it off or just what she did.

  47. says

    I’m glad I don’t have to deal with my cats getting in my kitchen cabinets. That sounds annoying.
    The most annoying thing I’ve had to deal with from my cats is my tabby, Kayta, pawing at my door in the morning when she’s ready to eat. That was until I got a kitty gate to go up in the hallway to prevent her from getting to my room.
    (Yes, even in the early morning hours while I’m still asleep, her claws on the door were enough to wake me up, and that’s so irritating)

  48. Skatje Myers says

    Before we got the automatic feeder, Midnight would follow me around and bolt towards the food bowl if I looked like I was finally heading there.

    For a bit, we were actually trying to see just how far he’d go given two steps in the direction. He’d keep going farther each time, as though we just didn’t understand where he was trying to tell us to go — we could get him to run across the room and down the stairs, then he’d meow pitifully off in the distance before coming back. Eventually he realised we were too stupid to understand and we’d need our hand held the whole way there.

  49. gerryl says

    Pop corn. Fred E Cat was old and had trouble moving around, so he would sleep on the ottoman in front of the TV and not bother following me into the kitchen. But when the pop corn started popping, his head would lift up and by the time I got to my chair with the bowl he was awake and ready to share. I only gave him tiny pieces of the soft part of the corn. It would often attach to his whiskers and very little made it into his mouth. I think it was more the ritual of getting hand fed that he liked.

  50. chigau (違う) says

    Kitty opens the corner-cupboard and looks in.
    Doesn’t go in, just looks.
    For twenty years.
    First thing when we go into the kitchen, close the corner-cupboard.
    For twenty years.

  51. says

    My experience with training cats is that they often attach the reward / punishment to the person doing it, rather than generalising. My most successful attempts at preventing cats from doing things (scratching the furniture, stealing our food, etc) has been to remove the human administered aspect of the punishments. So to prevent the cat from stealing our food I left some chicken out that had Tabasco on it. To stop her scratching the couch I put cling film on it for a week. Of course, YMMV.

  52. says

    Gracie does the “freshen my food, plz” thing, which I don’t mind. I’d be a little annoyed, too, if I kept getting stale food. The one that annoys me is the “I want out, no, wait, I want food, om-nom-nom, and now I will stand here in the open doorway while I decide where I want to be” thing.

  53. 2kittehs says

    I think Maddie’s decided to learn to cook. The kitchen cupboard was open this morning and the oven gloves on the floor.

    Crimson Clupeidae


  54. leel says

    Things we trained Cat to do:
    Not to get up on the table or the kitchen bench. Not even when he was hungry and there was tasty food.
    To sit up on his haunches or stand up to reach for tasty treats.
    To come in the evening when called or at the sound of my keys jangling. As long as he wasn’t busy. If he was, clicking the can opener (used on tuna cans) would often do the trick.
    To get out of his window basket and join us in bed, by getting ready for bed ourselves.
    To tolerate being groomed, as long as we stopped when he started biting the comb.

    Things Cat trained us to do:
    To open the bathroom door, by rattling his claws on it as soon as the shower stopped – he never bothered while the shower was running.
    To let him out on weekend mornings by grabbing the flimsy hall cupboard door and shaking it violently.
    To open a door for him, by putting one paw on it and looking up appealingly.
    To play chase or otherwise entertain him, by setting very provokingly down in front of us and posing both sets of front claws on some piece of furniture. No scratching ever happened, he only did it when he wanted to play.
    To stop playing chase by lying down on the floor defensively and enforcing the time for quiet pats again.
    To hold our hand under the slow-running bathroom tap so he could drink, by sitting on the bathroom counter.
    To lay the shower head down and turn it on a trickle so he could drink, by going and sitting in the shower – sometimes he would wait in the dark for half an hour before we noticed!
    To fill his water bowl with fresh water, get down on the floor, and hold it up for him while he had a long refreshing drink, by sitting on the bathroom floor staring fixedly at us.
    To follow him to the kitchen and produce more food, by coming and sitting in the middle of the living room floor and licking his chops pointedly at us.
    To feed him by hand on occasion, by staring down at his food and finding it unable to get into his mouth by itself.
    To say he was finished and we could go now, by shaking his magnificent mane and walking off.
    To go to bed and provide him with tummies to sit on, by ostentatiously jumping onto the bed as a hint.
    To roll over and provide him a tummy in the middle of the night by settling down on a hip and demonstrating how uncomfortable that was for him.
    To lie down on the futon and provide him a tummy, by hopping up on the end of it and waiting until we either moved our books/laptops and stretched out, or left our chairs and came over. The enormous purrs of anticipation were all the encouragement we needed. Only once did he have to speak, and then it was a warm and friendly ‘Come along now’.
    To scratch his chin, head and neck – *so itchy!* – by pushing his face at our hands while he was lying on a tummy.
    To stop scratching when he’d had enough, by putting his paw on our hand and holding it down.
    So much happiness and affection from the world’s best cat. It’s only on Sunday evening that we had to say goodbye to him :´´(

  55. says

    leel @66:

    So much happiness and affection from the world’s best cat. It’s only on Sunday evening that we had to say goodbye to him :´´(

    From reading your comment, your kitty sounds awesome. I’m sorry for your loss.

  56. giabread . says

    My cat has the peculiar habit/need to see me put food in her bowl before she starts eating. It’s not something I trained her to do, but she’s definitely obsessed with it, It doesn’t matter whether the bowl’s full or not – the act of putting food in it is important, she refuses to eat and keeps meowing and shuffling her feet until I do.

  57. 2kittehs says

    leel @66, I am so sorry. Hugs if they’re wanted.

    Crimson Clupeidae
    @69, gorgeous pics! I loved grandpa and cat in particular.

  58. Lyn M: G.R.O.S.T. (ADM) -- Membership pending says

    I find most cats are great characters if you get on their wavelength. One we called the Tiny Tabby Terror fetched endlessly. I tied a knot in a length of rope, and she would fetch up to 50 times in a row. She loved it. Another we called Kelly Catherine, would sing a song with me, if the payout was right. I would sing “If you’re happy and you know it say…” and she would do the meow part. It was a party trick she loved because then she got a bunch of star anise Chinese chicken scraps. Last cat I had was Harley. He chatted. If I said something with Harley in it, he would chirp or meow. Always ready to chat. He loved our patio door, which we called Cat TV, the all bird channel. He did the head butt thing too, but the glass rang like a bell. Then he would stalk through wherever you were sitting, looking pretty damned mad.
    Sorry if I’ve told these before, but they were epic cats.
    Also condolences to leel. A cat that loves you and is a companion and funny to boot, is tough to lose. I sometimes still tear up thinking about mine.

  59. Chicken Chicken says

    My cat does the same, but he has to perform ‘sit!’ before he gets his food. Only, he never actually sits down, he just loweres his butt a bit. It’s like the most humiliating thing anyone could do to him, make him obey a command before he gets his food, so he just kinda sorta does it.

  60. Sonja says

    My cat Rory answers my phone — if I don’t answer, the answering machine starts, and if the caller is leaving a message, Rory the cat will knock the receiver until it hangs up on the caller. He also does this when I play back the messages. I didn’t have to teach him this “adorable” trick; he figured it out on his own. Clever Rory.
    See video