Simple Cat Training


I don’t have indoor/outdoor cats. They are indoor only. This doesn’t bother Lokii a bit; in fact he gets really scared if we hold him near the sliding glass door. Which we do on occasion, trying to help him bug-hunt. It usually ends in bloody shoulders…

Spot is a different story. I used to live in a house with a balcony and when I was out in the sunshine, Spot and his Good Dog Shade would come out with me. Spot also loves walks on the harness and car trips (if we stay under 30MPH/48KPH).

Returning home from a car trip.

The problem with Spot is that he gets overly excited and starts demanding to go out on the harness. Loudly and often. When thwarted, he starts becoming very intent on escaping the house – and he usually manages it, no matter how careful we are. He will be outside in a fraction of a second if the door didn’t close fully. He can even move the sliding glass door with his arm if given a gap wide enough to get his arm into.

Neko being overly-interested in the fact that her cat is outside.

So, I feel bad a bit by denying him his fun, but I cannot bear the noise and the bad behaviour that always comes after a harness walk.

I did notice that he doesn’t misbehave when it comes to the car trips. He will cry when he thinks he’s about to get to go, and he is usually right. Because car trips only happen on the weekend mornings, you see. He knows it, he’s a smart little bugger. So I put my noggin to thinking of how I could take Spot outside and avoid all the resulting drama.

First: it needs to be a routine he can understand and predict. Second: I need to be in control as I refuse to let him dictate my habits. Lastly: it has to be fun for both of us.

When the weather is good, I sit right outside in my beloved Coleman camp chair and enjoy my morning coffee. I’ve started keeping the chair in the kitchen, all folded up, because I can’t fit into my shed-house anymore (iDJ has taken it over with his bicycle and big-ass Weber grill, sigh). Spot usually comes down with me in the morning and begs for attention, nicely and quietly. Why not combine a happy cat with sitting outside in my chair?

I set the chair outside, and called Spot to me. By that I mean he jumped into my arms (I must video this one day, it’s adorable). We went out, I sat down with my knees together to make a good lap, plunked him down and held on to him loosely. It didn’t take long before he made an attempt to jump down. I immediately got up and put him inside. Total outside time: maybe 1 minute.

The next morning, he lasted about three minutes. The next, over six. He caught on so fast! Soon I didn’t have to hold on to him physically and just made a ‘fence’ with my arms.

He didn’t cry to go out unless I put the chair out, and he was just as annoyingly loving in the morning as always. He didn’t try to escape as he knew the rules.

The weather has been miserable for weeks, too cold or too wet or both, so we haven’t been out together in a long time. Yesterday was lovely, as you can see – bright enough to make us both squint – but he hadn’t forgotten a thing.

When iDJ came down and found us like this, he had to take a few snaps. By then I’d been sitting for at least 20 minutes, my coffee was ice-cold, and I was actually hoping Spot would try to jump down!

I’d also brought my phone with me, and had already killed the battery taking photos of my view.
“What’s that over there?”

“What’s that over there?”

“It’s a bird it’s a bird ehehehehhehek!”

I know a few of my friends here have cats that would love a bit of safe outdoor time. I hope this helps!

21 responses »

            • Change the blanket on your bed to something with a totally different texture, and see if it changes anything. Cats sometimes get used and love a texture so much that they take the bad habit of peeing on that particular texture. Change back to your favorite blanket after several weeks if it worked, by then the cat may have forgotten about it and broke the bad behavior.

              Make sure the litter box is clean every day, but you already knew that bit, isn’t it?

            • Tom, thanks for the ideas. If she hadn’t always been a pisser, I’d have more hope for that, but that’s why her other family gave her up, and she seems to like things that are “piled.” On the floor or on the bed. I try to always straighten the covers out even of I don’t “make” the bed, because for some reason rumpled covers seem to be an invitation to her….

            • Oh I get that. What about putting a large sheet of plastic over the bed? Wetting her paws every time might give her a lesson! Hope you find a solution, I have had pee-in-bed problems before and I know I’d do anything to fix that quickly.

            • Well, as soon as I can, I am gonna get her to the vet’s to at least rule out a physical cause. Then I guess I can reassess the situation. Plus we are getting a new mattress soon, so I am gonna make sure that one gets a nice protective cover under the mattress pad. 😀

  1. Cats are very smart and make connections quickly. Spot does seem to enjoy an outdoor sitting.
    RC was a tiny outdoor stray when Tiger said staff must rescue that little loudly crying creature on the tree limb about to brush the powerlines in the as the storm approached. (If for no reason to shut it up – so loud.) We have a harness so she can go out, but she won’t walk on it …it’s more like stake her in the yard and she explores in a circle. She takes moods where she’s determined to escape -lightning fast. I’ve had to lurch and grab her tail a time or two…resulting in angry cat…but cat inside.
    I think everyone is running outside whenever there’s a bit of sun – so tired of dreary.

  2. My cats don’t approach me when I’m eating or have any kind of human food around. Tigra jumps off the aquarium top if I arrive from work early. That’s about the best training I have attempted. You are good 🙂

  3. Wonderful! Smart kittay. You use the same philosophy I do with my dog. As a puppy she learned that she could chase the vacuum as long as she didn’t bark. She can make the barking motion but no sound. So her whole life she can chase it while I clean but never a sound from her! Also, with playing ball. If she brought it back we’d play as long as she wanted. When she didn’t bring it back the fun was over. I’m not chasing after her ball like and eedjit.

    So good to see pics of spotty so happy. I do enjoy a happy kittay. Other people’s happy kittays 😉

  4. Haven’t tried sitting out back but once we took a blanket and laid it on the grass out there, and Nikita joined us. I bet she’d like more of the same!

    She’s not a fan of the harness though. 😦

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