What's New Pussycat?

Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by StrangerInAStrangeLand, Jun 24, 2014.

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    Why You're Probably Training Your Cat All Wrong
    Yes, they're independent and willful, but felines can be taught certain behaviors—to the benefit of both cat and human.
    By Linda Lombardi May 17, 2018

    Training has always been part of the deal when you own a dog, though methods have changed a lot over the generations. Cats are a different story—but they shouldn’t be.
    “People don’t traditionally train cats because they think of cats as ... independent and full of free will,” says Sarah Ellis, co-author of The Trainable Cat.
    “What they don’t realize, though, is that they are subconsciously training their cats on a daily basis.”

    Herding Cats
    The bad news is that you’re often training your cat to do the opposite of what you want. How many times have you yelled "No!"and run over to scoop your cat off the kitchen counter? And yet, it never seems to learn. There’s a reason for that.
    You think you’re scolding, but you’re “inadvertently giving the cat attention, which, in the cat’s mind, is better than nothing, and so it’s rewarding,” says Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, Davis.
    It’s a basic principle of training: If a behavior results in something the animal likes, it’ll do it again.
    So, stop letting that principle work against you and get it to work for you instead. “Reward what you like and ignore what you don't like,” says Delgado.

    The Power of Positivity
    Training gives you a more effective way to communicate—and you may even find your cat communicates back.

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    Delgado saw this when she taught her cat to use the scratching post instead of trying to teach her not to scratch the couch: “When my cat wanted a treat, she’d go to the scratching post and put a paw on it and look at me like, 'Hey, are you going to give me a treat for this?'”
    When you start ignoring undesirable behavior, you’ll need to hold your ground through the “extinction burst,” as trainers call it.
    “Initially the animal will try harder, so if you stop getting up to feed your cat in the middle of the night it'll probably meow louder and walk on your face,” says Delgado. “You have to be very consistent in not responding.”
    To start teaching your cat to do things you want, Ellis suggests training it to come when called. Stand two or three feet away, call your feline friend’s name to get its attention, then say, "Come," and hold out a treat.
    If necessary, reach out with the treat then move it closer to your body to get the cat to follow it. Repeat until the cat starts to respond consistently, and then gradually call to your cat from farther and farther away.

    Rich Rewards
    Once that makes a believer of you, you can start training you cat to do more challenging but useful behaviors, such as tolerating nail trims or going willingly into a carrier.
    Always break the process down into tiny steps. For nail trimming, start by rewarding your cat repeatedly for just allowing a paw to be touched.
    Once your cat is comfortable with that, give it a treat when you press its paw gently to extend a claw. Step by step, work up to trimming one nail, then more than one at a time. The process may sound tedious, but it’s worth it for a lifetime of not struggling with the routines of basic care.
    Make sure you’re using food rewards that your cat is enthusiastic about: If kibble isn’t exciting enough, try soft treats, or bits of canned food. These rewards should be very small, and make sure to cut back a bit on your pet’s regular meals, to prevent weight gain. Train in very short sessions, and don’t try to progress too quickly.
    “The most common mistake people make when training cats is to ask for too much too soon,” says Ellis.
    Training is worth the effort: It's easier for you to care for your cat, as well as builds your relationship.
    People who train their felines "feel that their cat is not just this willful, stubborn creature doing things to annoy them," Delgado says. “There are real benefits for the human-animal relationship, and it’s not as hard as you think."

    https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/animals-cats-training-pets/

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    What if Everything You Think About Cats Is Wrong?
    A study of feline behavior shows that cats can be taught—despite their reputation for being untrainable and aloof.

    By Nina Strochlic


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    For those who’ve long wondered if their cats regard them merely as kibble dispensers, a report in the journal Behavioural Processes should be reassuring. In a study that exposed adult cats to four categories of stimuli—food, toy, scent, and human social interaction—the majority of cats preferred human interaction over all other options, even food.
    This type of research “was done on dogs in the ’90s” but not on cats until now, says Oregon State University’s Kristyn Vitale Shreve, a co-author of the study. “We’re trying to catch up.” Cats are stereotyped in the U.S. as untrainable and unsocial, she says, but they can be taught using the same general principles as dogs—so long as the incentives are right. Vitale’s next study will research how to use cats’ preferences to train them.
    What else don’t we know about cats? For instance, is the kitten in this photograph scared or playful? (Answer: It’s leaping at a toy dangling in front of the camera.) Cat emotions are notoriously hard to decipher: A new study in Italy by veterinary scientists found that most owners don’t recognize the range of signals cats use to show stress. “Dog owners know more about dog behavior,” says author Chiara Mariti. In contrast, cat owners often interpret their pets’ behavior as normal to the species, rather than a signal about how they’re doing.
    Scientists are working hard to solve such feline mysteries. Last year a Swedish university launched a five-year study into human-cat communication. The goal: to see if cats react to different ways humans speak to them, and to translate meows into emotions and desires.

    The Science of Cats
    Independent Streak When dogs and cats were tasked with solving a puzzle, a study in the Journal of Comparative Psychology found, dogs looked to humans for help with an impossible task while cats kept trying on their own.
    Cat Transit By analyzing mitochondrial DNA in the remains of some 200 ancient cats, researchers in France found that felines spread across the world first with farmers from the Fertile Crescent and then with sailors trading around the globe.

    RELATED VIDEO: Can you really train your cat?
    A circus troupe of well-trained cats is touring the United States—proof that the famously stubborn domestic house cat can indeed learn new tricks.

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/10/explore-animals-cats-science/?beta=true

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