Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Chats du jour: Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit?

When I posted the photo of Laverne sitting on the cookbook on facebook, a friend asked, "Why do people let their cats on the counters?"

To which I thought, "You, sir, have never owned a cat."

Only someone who has never had a cat would think that cat owners "let" their cats do anything.

Dogs can be trained. Dogs will respond to positive and negative reinforcement.

Cats can move in three dimensions.

There you have the big difference between cats and dogs.

If a dog could climb on the counter, he would. No matter what his training. Because the counter is where the food is.

We have tried. We have tried and tried to keep the cats off the counter.

The only way to do it is to keep the cats out of the kitchen. Which means locking them in the basement. Which, if you are going to do that, why have cats at all?

It's like the people who have kids and then buy enormous houses where the kids' rooms are a mile away from the adult spaces. I understand the desire completely - note that SH and I do not have children - but why have kids if you never want to see them? Just don't have kids. Then you can have a smaller house that's easier to clean and it will still be quiet.

We have tried negative reinforcement. We put sticky paper upside down on the counter thinking the cats would not like the sensation of stickiness on their paws and stop jumping up there.

We were wrong. The cats loved the sensation and played on the sticky paper. I found little cat footprints crisscrossing the paper. From the bedroom, I heard the slow unpeeling of a cat foot from the paper - a long pause - another slow unpeeling - a shorter pause - and then a steady splick splick splick as Shirley enjoyed the novelty of both noise and sensation.

We tried putting pots and pans and anything else that would fall, make noise, and not break on the edge of the counter. They figured out how to jump over them.

We tried spraying them with water when they were on the counter. Water torture doesn't work. I have run the kitchen tap on Shirley for a full 30 seconds to try to keep her out of the sink. All I have done is made her wet, so that when she shakes in disgust as she glares at me, water flies onto the wall, the coffee maker, the toaster oven, and the clean dishes.

SH and I were discussing cats with our voice teacher the other night at our traditional post-class karaoke. "My cat thinks her name is Babygetdown," our teacher sighed.

If I can invent a process or spray or magic spell that would make cats do what their owners want them to do, I would be rich beyond measure.


smalltownme said...

One of my cats is always in search of food. Hence the kitchen is the best place to be. To get him off the counter, I throw food on the floor for him to fetch like a dog.

Beryl said...

Cats are good practice for when you have teenagers. I don't want my cat to always do what I want her to do - just to understand what the kitty owner deal-breakers are. Ha!

Evelynne said...

Your description of the sound of kitty paws on sticky paper made me laugh out loud. :)

Diedra B said...

Our cats only go on the counters when we're not around (it took years to convince them that they should not insult us right to our faces). They once got the donuts down from on top of the refrigerator. They don't like donuts. They just seemed to think we shouldn't hide anything from them. It's all about trust.

Class factotum said...

Smalltownme, how do you keep your cat from getting fat? Laverne would eat all day long if we would let her.

Beryl, teenagers eventually get manners, but cats don't need braces, so I guess it's a wash.

Thanks, Ev!

Diedra, the cat we had when I was a kid never did the forbidden things when we were around, but we would find his little footprints in the dust on the table and the mantle. I guess we needed to dust more often. I bet Laverne would like donuts. She likes everything.

John0 Juanderlust said...

Too late for you. You did not start out in charge, so you never will be. It is just like parents who wonder why the kid is a terror at 12 or so, even though they made no move to make it otherwise when the kid was younger, like 3 or 4 or so..
Have to start with cats when the are kittens.

class factotum said...

John0, you are so right. When we got the cats, they already had bad habits. Next time, we take them from their mother and train them right.

BTW, I clicked over to your nephew's FB page and thought I was looking at you in the photo. It is very clear that the two of you are related.