Friday, 7 January 2011

Human Vs Cat

Friends, I feel the need to begin this post with an apology. As you are no doubt aware, i normally attempt to stay pretty philosophical and even tempered and toleratn (and all the rest of that jazz) over my human's various stupidities and lacks and general shortcomings. I have frequently said that they aren't her fault, that I mustn't judge her harshly because she has a small brain and does the best she can, that I need to remember to cut her some slack. But this morning, she did something so ridiculous that I didn't even have the capacity to be truly mad at her. I ended up laughing, which really isn't a kind thing to do, bearing in mind that, with her capacity, she's making the best that she can. That being said, what she did do, as well as displaying ape-like intelligence, is give me food for thought, and I don't mean the stinky goodness kind. Allow me to elaborate.

As I mentioned yesterday, the human has started this ritual, a very pleasant one actually, of sprinkling some yummy treats on my new blanket before she leaves for the work hunt. This has met with nothing but favour on my part, for why complain about free food, and nice food at that. Now, my motto is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but in my eight months of training, I haven't managed to get that across to the human yet. Accordingly, she decided to fix it.

When I want something badly from her, or when I simply want a snuggle when she's come in from work and decides to head straight to the litterbox room instead of to my sofa for cuddle time, I will follow her, then, when she stays still, put my two front paws up on her knee and wait. I know this melts her insides to mushies which is why I do it, cuz she can't refuse me anything after that. Regardless of whether she's on that litterbox or not, I get my own way! The human decided she wanted to encourage me to do it more, although in a, by her standards, more appropriate place and at a more appropriate time. I've mentioned my background to you previously, so you'll understand it when I say that, when I've done it, I've been a little timid about it. It was a new thing for me. In order to minimise the timidity, the human formulated a plan.

This morning, instead of simply giving me the treats, she crouched on the floor and held one in her hand just above her leg. Because she was crouched, the leg provided a flat platform kind of thing, but still, I wasn't going to climb for a treat. I waited. I've done this before, and I always manage to wait her out. It semi worked this time, cuz she lowered her hand down to me, but kept it close to her knee, so that I had to come forward a few steps to get the morsel. Oh, and how good it was! She picked up another one, and this time, her hand went a little higher so that I had to stand right up on my tippy-toes and push in against her knee to get it. The third one went right back above her leg. I wasn't jumping. I've told you, I don't work for treats. I waited, but nothing happened other than that she started to coo at me to come up. I ignored her, and instead turned my attention to the box of treats open on the floor. But friends, I hadn't even got my nose into it before she whisked that away to the heights too! I still wasn't worried at this point. I could still wait her out.

Except that I couldn't. For an eternity that lasted a full minute, my nose twitched and the treat called. So did the human. Eventually, I hopped up with my two front paws on her knee really quickly, grabbed the treat and jumped back down again. Oh, it was so good! She picked up another one, and again I waited, and again she waited, and another eternity of thirty seconds passed! Do you know how hungry and near to starvation you can get in thirty seconds? I was seeing pink mousies and everything! But the call of the treat was too strong, and up I hopped.

Ten treats later, and the human was having to tell me to get off so that she could teach me to put my paws on her for a treat. This was fun. Without knowing it (and that pains me to admit), I'd trained her to give me treats on demand, and all I had to do was put my two front paws on her leg. how simple! As she stood up from giving me the final food, she said in a self-satisfied voice, "Well, that was a good first training session." Well, it's unlike her to admit I'm training her, so I was surprised but gratified, that is, until she continued. "I'm really making headway with her." um, what? Lady, you ain't making nothing with me sept more treat time!

The concept that the human thinks she's training me when I'm actually training her is so ridiculous that, even now when I think of it hours later, I am forced to shake my head in amazement, then wipe a grin off my furry face at the very idea. Humans are so simple, bless them.

We had a repeat of the training session when she came home from the work hunt, and again she mentioned that she was doing well. In the midst of my laughter though, I began to think. To think really about reciprocal cause and effect. I put my paws on her leg because I know she likes it and that will subsequently generate a treat, so, in essence, I put my paws on her leg because I like the treats. She, on the other hand, gives me a treat because she wants my paws on her leg because she likes the feeling. So, in essence, she provides the treat in return for something she likes. What that boils down to is this. I give her something she likes in return for something I like and vice versa.

Training is all about cause and effect, in essence, you do something to get something, or you do something to receive pleasure. Even stupid Dogfaces understand this concept, so it's in-arguable really. Now, if you apply that definition to the last paragraph of what I said, well, friends, it provides a frankly terrifying conclusion. We are training each other, and what's worse, we are doing it in a mutually pleasant, mutually beneficial way.

The thought of the human having influence over me is very unsettling, and yet, that then begs another question. Should it be brought to a brutal end? Should I cease doing what she wants in order to get what I want? I tried that today, namely the waiting game, and it didn't work. So in essence, do I deprive myself of a good thing just so that I can be content that I am not being trained? There hardly seems any point. This exercise provides benefit, not hardship, whereas to refuse to participate gets me nothing but terrible deprivation. And still there is the looming, and even larger question to be answered. If I allow myself to be trained in this way, will I do so with other things? Will the human be resourceful enough to always provide me with a benefit for doing what she wants, and more importantly, will I feel that this benefit is one I do not wish to go without?

I have no answers. I need help.


careers4YourCat said...

Hmm.. Yes it it is very perplexing. Similar to the famous conundrum: what came first the chicken or the egg?

Who is training who?

And the other question is: what will you do for a treat? (soon your human may give you the keys to the car and expect you to drive!)

These are difficult questions. I would take an Advil, find a comfy sofa and take a looong catnap.

Katnip Lounge said...

Tia, NEVER forget WE, the Cats, are in control. We think you might be overthinking this a bit too much. Have some nip, play the game with your Human, and eat those treats!
It sounds like she's coming along nicely, actually.

Old Kitty said...

Oh sweet Tia!!! Just think of the treats! :-) But you must always be in control - that is the natural order of things. Remember - they always loose at the "eye blinking/staring" contest.

Take care and good luck!

Harry Spotter said...

Treats....Treats...Treats...You are so lucky. Have a great weekend.

Wyatt's Corner said...

For shame, she made you wait to long. I trained my dad to brush me on a tray table instead of chasing me around the house.

The Cat From Hell said...

Dear Dear Tia!
Wes cats is always in control. We can let our humans think they has the upper hand, but we KNOWs they is really doing what we want.
That way we always gets treats!!!
Me has Mommy trained so that when she comes home, she always puts my trats on her dresser.

Puss-Puss said...

Oh, my dear Tia! No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You are a cat. By definition, you are NOT the creature requiring training! Humans, slow and dimwitted, are the ones who require training, and from a superior species (cats) if they are lucky. Have you ever seen a human who has had to make do with the bumbling, ignorant, unskilled training of--Bast help me--a DOG? After that kind of hamfisted treatment I don't know how the humans can manage to find their way home again without the aid of a trail of breadcrumbs.

So, NO, you do not permit this treatment to go on. Treats, especially my personal favorites, tuna-flavored Pounces, are delightful things, to be sure, and those thumbist humans are mighty cocky keeping them sealed up out of our reach. But no quantity of delightful, smelly, stinky treats (now I'm hungry) is worth permitting the upstart presumption of a human to allow them to think that THEY are training US. It is laughable. You must not permit this to continue.

The human requires punishment, also known as negative conditioning, for her presumption. Go throw up a hairball on her pillow right this minute, Tia, and then I think the human needs to be flatly ignored for the next week or so, so that she understands that her behavior is unacceptable. If she should have other human guests during her punishment week, make sure you butter them up in her presence, and continue to ignore her. She'll figure it out.

Best regards,