Jean Croker Petke

To Train or Be Trained

To Train or Be Trained

The question of the week at my house is:

Am I the trainer or the trainee?

You see, there’s a new resident at my house. A cat, named T. He gorgeous — I chose him for his looks. He’s about four months old and was a feral cat, so life at my house is totally new to him.

I’ve never actually bought a cat before. I’ve usually gotten them free when someone was giving away kittens. This process seemed as complicated and time consuming as buying a car. I felt like I signed my life away and that I would be checked on to make sure I was abiding by the adoption policies.

Here’s what T’s learned in his first two weeks living with me:

  • if you jump on the dining room table, you and the tablecloth slide together, perhaps landing on the floor in an unexpected heap and thud.
  • If you sit on the scratching pad, look longingly at your human, you get a handful of the good food.
  • If you sit in the bathroom, near the sink, and meow, the human will turn on the water so you can drink directly from the spigot.
  • To come when he is called.
  • To get in the bedroom closet, close the door, and can’t get out.
  • To respond to his human’s command, “Get down!” when he’s where he shouldn’t be.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • To turn on the water in the bathroom sink in response to his meow and look.
  • To give him the good food in response to his meow and look, near the scratching pad
  • To scratch his head and ears when he sleeps on the bed next to me
  • To keep my desk clear of papers and items to minimize damage when he roams my personal space.
  • I am T’s staff, to pick up after him, to clean the litter box, replenish his food and water, and to be his playmate.
  • He thinks he’s my assistant when I’m working at my desk. He mostly sits on my papers, walks across my computer keyboard, sends papers and books to the floor. His work habits are inconsistent and he often sleeps on the job.
  • My preplanning for his arrival has paid off: location of litter box, location of food/water dishes.

Obviously, we each are both trainer and trainee. And learning has occurred. We both have more to learn but there is hope based on our successes so far.

My advice:

  • Choose a companion based on looks. His looks got my attention immediately.
  • Patience — wait for him to warm up to you. Relationship can’t be forced.

There is an explanation for his name. A young friend of mine who comes to my house twice a year for high tea, thought I should name a cat Teacup. Very appropriate. I thought I would get a female cat. However, since I have a male, Teacup sounded a little prissy. The name got immediately shortened to T — which stands for Teacup, but could also stand for Tea Pot or Tea Cozy or Tea Party or Mr. T. Several have suggested that T stands for Tennessee — but absolutely not — even though he is orange and white.

Living with a new cat is similar to living with a toddler.

  • Be careful what you leave within reach.
  • Nothing escapes his notice or attention.
  • Things will get climbed on, knocked over, played with.
  • Be consistent in your expectations and demands.
  • Beware of items that will tip over, fall on him, or places he can get stuck.
  • He takes up every room in the house.
  • He’s worth the time, the dollars, the energy.

Like children, pets change your life — in a challenging and very good way.

Until next Tuesday . . .



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