Teaching my cat to do dog tricks

I have been trying to get to this blog for ages… looks it’s been years at this point. Where does the time go? (when senility begins…)

For Angie, who didn’t believe me.



Gosh, I never think, when filming Cecil, about how what I say to him is going to be part of what I post. Cringing…]

Cecil was a feral stray cat when he first appeared at Karen’s informal Cat Sanctuary, an ad hoc thing, which began with feeding a few strays and grew over the years to include a little house that Emery built — a veritable Cat Hotel — with rooms for 5 cats. It is a little house with a pitched roof (for the snow) with doors cut out of the front as circles like with a huge drill, and heavy plastic flaps covering each door for warmth and drafts. Inside each bedroom is a little comforter for each room and a light bulb for heat. As winter gets colder and colder, each cat’s room gets a brighter bulb — I wonder if the cats thus think of light as warmth, with the light bulbs as little bits of sun and being what most animals likely think of as warmth, and the dark nights being about their worst endurance?

Anywho, then she started wrapping tarps around the beam of the porch so snow could not get to their cat house and to keep out the winter winds. The cats get two meals of moist food per day, with each cat getting a separate dish. The meals are carried out on plastic lunch trays and arrayed on the ground strategically; some dishes are placed far away from the bulk of the food dishes, for the more shy cats, which the more aggressive cats (like Cecil) will move on to upon finishing their dishes.

Karen also washes all the twee comforters once a week and refreshes the unlimited dry and water daily, which the raccoon family also uses as dinner trough, water, and bathtub, respectively and in that order. I have seen this, and melted. Raccoon babies are CUTE! But, though I want to hug them, we stamp our feet and make loud noises if we happen to be on the porch when they come, so they will not mistakenly learn to trust humans, because not all humans have food on their decks in order to feed them.

About the day Cecil arrived Karen says, “We never thought he would make it. We have had some cats show up in really bad shape, but he was torn to bits and was just skin and bones. He looked like a pack of something had gotten a hold of him.” Indeed, a few of his scars are visible to this day, in this video. The first time I saw Cecil, from inside the kitchen, I said, “Who is the new cat? He is the ugliest cat I have ever seen.”, for he looked all puffy in the cheeks, and mean, and all cocky like the mean alley cat in the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. He looked mean in a cartoon way. He sat on the deck right outside the door and every time I, or anyone, went in or out, his paws started flying and he always ended up tangled in one’s socks, if one were lucky enough to be wearing socks, else he became tangled in ankle skin. He was a scrapper. And he had a huge pair. He would chase off the weaker cats and also chase any animal, of any size. I now think he was overcompensating out of fear. back then i thought he needed to be fixed, due to that huge pair, and that he had just gotten both used to andf sick of fending for his life in the scary outdoors.

Karen did trap him and have his pair reduced and then began the long and patience-necessitating, task of taking him. It took months before she could pet him and we still all had to be careful when going in or out the back door, “Walk very slowly! If you make sudden or fast movements he will attack”. When we had cookouts or visits on the back deck we even had to try to remember to move slowly if passing chips to another or uncrossing our legs too quickly for Cecil sprang to action. I’d never had a cat — all the kittens I’d snuck home as a child and tried to hide under my bed were inevitably returned, and I’d not made good on all aspects of my childhood swagger-induced promises of “eating cake and ice cream every day, and having 27 kittens. No, they will NOT grow up — I will get special kittens.” , though ice cream is often breakfast these days.

After months of patience and unconditional love Cecil did succumb to and then enjoy being petted by Karen, and then he became voracious for it, like a kid fascinated with a new toy. Emery, once, as we were gathered on the back deck, hilariously said, “I just pet the shit out of him for a few minutes and then he runs away”, when he noticed I had been trying to extricate myself for many minutes so as to “get going to meet a friend” as I’d mentioned a few times. Cecil “LOVES to be loved”, Karen would say, and she’d nailed it. This was a very new thing to him.

Soon he started sitting next to the back door for a new purpose; rather than swiping his claws at anything that moved on it’s way in or out, he was now trying desperately to get inside. Fall was coming to an end and he knew, as animals know, better than humans, what was coming next. He did not want to spend another winter outside. He’d successfully gotten in twice and though his path was thwarted by a few of the 5 inside cats, he evidently liked what he saw and felt and smelled inside.

Around this time he also developed new habits, one of them very disturbing but also to be prophetic.


5 Responses to “Teaching my cat to do dog tricks”

  1. It looks like you got your finger scratched at some point in the training process. :)

  2. Martin,

    You are very observant! But that is actually a scratch from another, of many (almost daily) accidents; using a knife to add rock salt to a disposable salt grinder, as I had just made organic popcorn and it needed salt but my disposable grinder was empty so I “drilled” a hole in it with a knife to make use of the rock salt.

    I read your post — I unfaced myself in mid November, after a series of other — both physical and emotional — accidents, and haven’t gone back.

    Cecil’s love bites never leave a scar, though when I first got him, as feral cat needing a home because he was chasing and attacking pitbulls, I did get a few scratches for touching his paws, which I am infatuated with. They are so cute and enticing!

    • Hi Mo,

      I have a little, orange, 5 year old female that showed up in my backyard in the fall of 2007. She is so sweet. I have been teaching her to bite. :) It’s really funny, but what I do is make a pinching sort of motion with my thumb and forefinger. I then make my hand move around like a snake and then “strike” at her front shoulders. I pinch down on the skin on her shoulder and then it is her turn to try and bite my hand or bite the “snake” before it can pinch her shoulder. It is so cute how she follows my hand with her head and eyes. :)

      When she is successful at biting, I will then scratch her on the head and give her kisses while telling her how good of a girl she is. If he tries to scratch with her claws I tell her “no scratching” then try to grab her shoulder again. As a result of many sessions of training she will growl and act very ferocious but won’t bite hard or scratch. It’s really funny, but once she is all worked up I can put my finger near her and she will basically just hold my finger between her teeth while growling as I scratch her on the ear. :)

      Cats are such fun.

      On a personal note, I’m glad things are going better for you. It seems to me that life always have something to test us with. As we triumph through adversities, things tend to get a bit easier. For me, focusing on art, music, and cooking have been great ways to stay grounded and persevere. Eventually, I’d like to start doing a blog or website, but finding the time is the big obstacle. When I found your blog I really liked your writing style and worldview. Thanks for posting more content. :)

      All the Best,

      Martin :)

  3. Martin,

    Video please! That sounds adorable!

    Wasn’t that your post, though, about unfacing from facebook? Your comment seemed to link to it… but then I am easily confused. It did seem to be on a blog with different writers, so you write there?

    As for life testing us, with me it always seems like a tsunami in which everything is turned inside-out — to the point that I have coined a phrase — I call these my “and then…” stories — and then it is smooth sailing for bit, which I suppose I prefer over every month having some physical or emotional upheaval.

    A possible future topic for when I *really* get back to writing, over posting old videos and pictures of my cat (a very new phenomenon for me still, as I had 2 dogs [and gerbils and fish] prior to ending up with Cecil, my first foray into cat-ism) might be how the adage, ‘that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’, might not necessarily be true. In my case it does apply, in a way, but also makes me gradually more and more unfiltered, which I see as an outpouring of whatever I feel, as driven by amplified vulnerability.

    At dinner with my friends Larnett and Amy last night the remark was made, “Next to “Free Association” in the dictionary there is a picture of Mo!” which admittedly describes me. That was followed with, “Well, you always know exactly what Mo is thinking and you know where you stand, which is refreshing and fortunately always good”. I think all of this is the result of emotional trials and tribulations.

    And, like having this conversation here, rather than in an email, I never think to withhold any thoughts in any way. I often put entire emails into the subject line, which friends find both amusing and odd, especially the ones to my boyfriend at his work address.

    But then, I am the opposite of a poser — a perhaps hapless (alliteration!) ‘blurter’.

    And now I will end this as it is turning into a post of it’s own.

    In parting, cats are so much more complicated than dogs, and everyone told me I’d never be able to train Cecil, and so that’s why I decided to teach him things. That word never is a trigger for me.


    p.s. I seem to recall an old post here in which somehow, without thinking, half the post was me in the comments section. Going to find it…

    • Hi Mo,

      I would be happy to do a video, but I don’t really have a way to do so. The only video camera I have is the webcam that is built into my laptop. This is the only computer I have and I’m not very good at using it either……basically email and message boards is about all I do online….and research of course. :)

      As far as facebook, I never really got into it. I think it is nice to see what some of my friends from when I was an adolescent are up to….I’m 39 now, so to see how my high school friends have aged is neat. I follow some of the AM talk radio hosts I like, but mostly I just call into them when there is something I’d like to say.

      I totally agree with the idea about life being a struggle. For me, I’ve done a great job of carving out a little hole in the side of the “cliff of life” and all in all, I’ve made it quite comfortable for myself. The biggest problem for me is that my job and family and life are all located here, in rural Ohio. The reason this is a problem is because all of the things I like to do (techno and house music and art) are all located in metropolitan locales such as Philly, DC, NYC, Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, etc.

      Having pets is both a blessing and a big responsibility. They are great when I’m home, but the biggest problem is that if I were to decide to drive 4 of so hours to Detroit or Chicago, who is going to take care of my animals? When I would go up for an event somewhere, I’d have to drive right back home afterwards. Too much responsibility makes going out to socialize too much work, plus with gas prices, I can’t really justify spending $60 to go out for a night especially when I have to drive right back home and be completely exhausted afterwards.

      As a result, I just stay home and make my own live music and do stuff around the house like home improvements and gardening. I love cooking too. :) Usually when I find myself thinking that life is a drudgery, I try to focus on the good things I have going and just keep on chugging along and chipping away at the endless number of tasks that need attention. As I accomplish goals, the feeling of satisfaction makes everything all worth it. (for a little while anyways) :)

      All the Best,

      Martin :)

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