How to Tame the Tiger in Your House


cat pixThere’s a tiger lurking in every tabby. Just look at the way kitty stalks and ambushes your feet. Those hunting instincts are as strong as his ancestors’ who roamed northern Africa nearly 5,000 years ago. Actually, cats haven’t changed much during the time that they have been living with man; they are essentially the same in mind and body as their wild ancestors

Cats as solitary predators have depended solely on their own hunting abilities and have had no need for group living. The idea of being corrected or dominated by another individual is foreign to them. Any attempt to punish a cat is counterproductive as it only confuses and frightens the animals. Rather than associating the punishment with the crime, the cat associates the punishment with the owner. This approach to training may damage the cat’s temperament and ruin its relationship with the owner. It also may result in the cat learning owner-absent behavior. Since the corrections only occur in the owner’s presence, the cat feels free to engage in the forbidden behaviors when the owner is asleep or a work.

As in dog training, praise and food treats are important to reinforce desired behaviors. Problem behaviors in cats, however, are best discouraged by the use of remote correction techniques in which the environment is booby trapped so that the particular behavior becomes self-correcting. Since the behavior, not the owner, is associated with the negative experience, the cat learns not to scratch the furniture, jump on the counters, eat the plants, etc. even when the owner is absent. Fortunately, cats delight in routine and are truly creatures of habit, so once a bad habit is broken and replaced by a new behavior, the new behavior becomes routine.




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My Beloved Buster

By Janette Blackwell

cat on bed"Dogs have owners; cats have staff," and I have worked for some wonderful cats in my time. The one I loved best was named Buster. Buster had an unusual mind. He didn't think like other cats; he didn't act like other cats. Maybe that's why I loved him so.

We got Buster from the county animal shelter. One fall, after our cat had died and left a big hole in our lives, we went to the animal shelter for a kitten. There were no kittens.

I was about to give up, but my husband Bill kept saying, "That one over there looks good." And he did. He was about three-quarters grown, grey and white, and had a sweet, hopeful expression on his little face.

When we got Buster home, he of course had to inspect the house. After a brief look around, he went into my mother's bedroom, where the sun was shining warmly on her pink bedspread. He jumped onto the bed and promptly went to sleep in a patch of sunlight, sprawled out on his back, paws up, the way a cat sprawls when he's feeling completely safe and happy.

"Home at last," he was saying. "Home at last."