Who Says You Can’t Train A Cat?
My wife and I got our first cat Pebbles 14 years ago and enjoyed her so much that we decided to get Pebbles a companion. Enter Rocky. Though cute and cuddly at a whopping 2 pounds, Rocky almost immediately revealed his rascal nature. Even Pebbles knew he was trouble and tried in vain to keep him in line. As he grew to a healthy adult weight of 14 pounds, so did his mischievous antics.
This is the story of Rocky and the kitchen trash can.
One day after returning home from the veterinary teaching hospital, I noticed the kitchen trash can had toppled over and its contents spilled onto the floor. Figuring out who did it was not difficult, as Rocky’s tail flicked back and forth from under the debris. I politely scolded him and then proceeded to right the wastebasket and clean the litter. Minutes later I was on the living room couch watching a rerun of The Golden Girls when I heard a thud in the kitchen. It was Rocky, and he had tipped the trash again. Scolding him, I cleaned up the mess only to see the same scenario replay itself over and over throughout the night.
The next day I decided to get a spray bottle and fill it with water. Cats don’t like water, and spraying Rocky will lead to a cease in the unwanted behavior. Sound logic indeed. At first, Rocky ran away from the sinister stream of H2O but admittedly it did little to stop him from his favorite pastime. In fact, after a few days of this exercise he would no longer run away but just squint his eyes in anticipation of my spray-happy sadism.
Seeing that the spray bottle did not work, I decided to place Rocky under an emptied laundry basket turned upside down: a makeshift jail, so to speak. I calmly explained to him that if he kept on making a mess in the kitchen, he would be placed in “time out” as a punishment. He didn’t like his confinement, as witnessed by his constant meowing. Did it stop his trash can delinquency? Nope.
A few days later I would see him lower his head and push the prison around the room. I started to place heavy textbooks on top of the laundry basket to prevent any movement. It worked, but Rocky still tipped the trash daily. One day after catching him in the act I scolded him, and before I could grab him to put him in time out, he ran over to the laundry basket and jumped in. I just couldn’t win.
Then I had a novel idea. Instead of punishing Rocky for making a mess, why not prevent the grungy vessel from toppling in the first place? I put 20 pounds of dumbbell weights in the bottom of the trash can then stood back and watched Rocky approach his favorite toy. Reaching up, he pulled, but to no avail. He tried again without any success then glanced at me with a look of disbelief. I returned his gaze with a smile that conveyed evolutionary dominance. Quietly, Rocky left the kitchen never again to cause his filthy mayhem.
Who said training a cat was difficult? On that day, domestication dominated the wild side. Whew. firstname.lastname@example.org