2001-Fri Feb 24 01:17:54 MST 2017
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Cat training: It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?
I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t
believe cats can be trained, but a quick
YouTube search brings up dozens of videos of cats doing activities as exotic as jumping through
flaming hoops or running agility courses or as mundane as sitting or coming on
command. Cats can learn to walk on leash and even use a toilet instead of a
litterbox. (But what I want to know is, can you teach them to flush?)
Now, does that mean that every cat is a feline Einstein?
Just as with people, intelligence and trainability vary among cat breeds and
even within breeds. For instance, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to find
a Persian or an Exotic Shorthair jumping through rings of fire (which actually
may make them the most intelligent of cats). Those cats simply take
a more relaxed view of life.
Some breeds or individuals are definitely more willing to
learn — and to show off their talents — than others. Let’s meet five cat breeds who
are renowned for their brains and trainability, which are not always the same
thing. (I’m listing them in alphabetical order; I’m not about to say that one is
more intelligent than another.)
Abyssinian: The “Aby-silly-an,” as he’s sometimes nicknamed, combines
intelligence and a daring nature with a highly acrobatic body. The Aby excels
at learning tricks and could probably solve a Rubik’s Cube in seconds, if only
he had opposable thumbs. His highly social personality makes him a star entertainer.
Walking on a leash is a perfect activity for this cat because he likes greeting
his adoring public.
American Shorthair/Domestic Shorthair: These all-American cats — American Shorthairs are pedigreed,
while domestic shorthairs are what we call random-bred — have a lot going for
them: They are easygoing, tolerant, adaptable, agile, patient and keenly
intelligent. Their people-watching skills are second to none, and that makes
them quick learners. Not only can you find them responding to requests (you don’t
command a cat, after all) such as sit, down and come, they also may be willing and
able to learn other tricks, walk on a leash and pick up house rules, such as
using a scratching post instead of your favorite
armchair to sharpen their claws.
Bengal: The Bengal is the cat you find turning on the kitchen or
bathroom faucet so he can play in the water, or figuring out how to get a nice
fish dinner from your saltwater aquarium. He tends to be highly intelligent, curious and
active, a combo that makes him a trainer’s dream but a normal cat owner’s
nightmare — unless she’s prepared to challenge his brain with puzzle toys and
other activities that will keep him entertained. Otherwise, you may find him
taking objects apart to see how they work or pawing through drawers and cabinets
in search of something interesting to play with. The Bengal is good at learning tricks,
including playing fetch, and will take you for walks if you are attached to a
Savannah: This is a smart cat with a sense of humor who likes a good
joke, especially if it’s at your expense. Don’t be surprised to find him
turning on your alarm clock just to see if he can get you to give him breakfast
an hour early, pushing items off shelves so they land on your head or running
water into the sink so he can splash around in it. Keep the Savannah occupied with
interactive toys and games, walks on leash, and steps and bridges throughout
your home that will challenge his gymnastic skills. Exercise his brain and body
by teaching him to walk on leash.
Siamese: These endlessly curious cats are typically both smart and
demanding. They want to be involved in everything you do, but if you’re not
around, they will entertain themselves by turning on faucets, opening and
rummaging through cabinets, and watching television with real interest. The
Siamese usually takes to leash walks enthusiastically and doesn’t disdain playing fetch
or performing tricks — although he hates being compared to a D-O-G. His best
trick? Teaching you to do what he wants.
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