What do you think about this? The cats are undeniably impressive. They are almost bound to be because domestic cats are so athletic. Training them is not that difficult as long as you have the patience and the commitment to see it through.
|Trained cats perform tricks on America's Got Talent. Screenshot.|
On the downside, you could argue that it is not a great example of cat welfare. Although I don't know how much the cats dislike doing this. They probably actually quite like it or certainly do not dislike it. And when you train cats you have a very close connection to them which is good for both the cat and the person. And also when you train a cat to do these circus tricks they are challenged and fully occupied.
One of the great problems, I think, of modern day life for a domestic cat, particularly full-time indoor cats, is that they do not have enough to do. They are not challenged enough. Training them to do things, and it need not necessarily be circus tricks like we see in this video, is good for them.
That's the argument about training although nobody does it because it's too boring I guess for most cat owners. And some cat owners simply disapprove.
The point, though is that both the person and the cat are automatically trained in a good relationship. There is a lot of informal training going on and of course cats probably train their owners more than vice versa.
Arguably, all domestic cats need to be trained to live with people in their homes. They are self-trained very often. They learn by observation how to fit in.
The most basic form of training is to request your cat to come on a call. A lot of cats respond because they learn the sound of their name. It is a "command" which enhances their safety if they are outside cats. This basic training like all training is based on positive reinforcement. The cat comes because there is a reward at the end of it.
You can link a another sound to the sound of their name. Dr Bruce Fogle trained his cat Milly to come to him on calling her name. And at the same time he shook a pot of vitamin tablets that she craved. The shaking of the vitamin tablets in a container enhanced the command. It made it sharper and it made the command more recognisable.
And after a while he dispensed with the name and shook the container to elicit the same response. That's a classic example of associating a sound with a call to the point where the original call is no longer required.
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