Mr. Vinégar + Bath + Jonesy = Disaster!
By four months, Jonesy had matured from a six-week-old kitten into an irrepressible eight year old. I had been forced to establish certain rules. No leaping on my thighs with outstretched claws. No racing across my computer keyboard while I was working, and definitely no staring at me while I sat on the toilet. But his unflagging energy and curiosity I could not contain, especially when it came to the dining room table.
So one morning, I carried him down the backstairs into the enclosed yard – and let him go. He immediately climbed the large avocado tree, raced up and down the steps, and worried all the plants. When, after ten minutes I picked him up to take him upstairs, he howled as if I was strangling him.
I took him downstairs every day for longer and longer periods until he knew the backyard intimately. Then when I felt he was ready, I opened the door and let him go. After an hour I called him and thanks to Mr. Pavlov, he came bounding up the stairs.
From then on I let him out from morning till night. I know of people who have trained their cats to swim, jump through hoops, and even count to ten but I don’t believe cats should be submitted to that sort of humiliation. As long as he comes when I call him I’m perfectly satisfied.
Ok…it looks like Jonesy is especially anxious to tell his side of the story…
I’ll always remember that first day I went into the garden by myself. It was great! I climbed the tree, chased leaves, and rolled around in the sun. From then on I spent as much time as I could in the garden. But I noticed that Mr. V didn’t mention what happened when he tried to teach me how to swim. First he showed me pictures of cats swimming. He kept saying, See Jonesy you can do that. The next time he had a bath he called me in.
Mr. V was lying in the bath, and being naturally curious I stood on the edge. Then I bravely stuck my foot in the water. Good boy Jonesy, said Mr. V. This went on for a week or two. Then he laid down in the water and told me to walk across his chest. Eazy Peezy, I thought. And so I did. But then he had to push me before I was ready…
The next time I was sitting on his chest he lowered himself into the bath so that the water ran over him and onto me. I was so surprised that I tried to leap out of the tub. I slipped, fell off his stomach, and down into his nether parts. Naturally I stuck my claws out to get a grip. The next thing I knew I was flying across the bathroom and he was leaping cursing and screaming and using language I’ve never heard before or since. That was the end of the swimming lessons. And all the other lessons, too.
And it was easy as fish pie to train him. Here’s what I did:
It used to be that when I meowed outside the door, he’d open it and I’d run to the food bowl. But it was frustrating waiting for him to clean the plate, open the can, and pour the food. So instead of meowing, I howled. That changed things. Now he got the food ready before I came in the door. After a couple of weeks of that I thought, he’s ready for step three. So I began to meow as I came up the stairs. I couldn’t have planned it better. Now when I arrive, the door is already open and the food is waiting for me on my plate. He learns quickly. Even better, I don’t have to give him a treat.
To see another video of Jonesy doing crazy things see the post “The First Month.“
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