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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Being a Jerk to Cats

Normally, I'm a large fan of the concept of negative reinforcement when it comes behavioral modification techniques. Not only does it help illicit the proper behavior from the subject, but it also feels mighty fine as well. Ex-girlfriends, ex-coworkers, ex-friends, ex-children: all successfully modified (right out of my life) using the above system. There is one subject, nevertheless, that seems completely immune to such psychological devices:


They appear to operate on a specific wavelength of life; one that doesn't involve the stimulus --> response --> knowledge-acquired system.

Through much trial and error in interfacing with cats, I've learned the above is some sort of genetic defect inherent to all of them. 100% of cats are deficient in learning to succumb to the rules of the household. Cat's only gonna do what a cat wants to do. With all that in mind, allow me to share with you the top three generally effective negative reinforcement techniques that don't work on cats.

#3 - Degrade to an Object

Generally, removing all sense of individuality and intrinsic life-value from something, rendering it solely an object for your use, breaks it down enough that it then begins to question and reevaluate itself. Not so much with cats.

One tried and failed application of this method is to use the cat as a cleaning device. Cat likes to play with the toilet? Scrub the bathroom floor using cat's body. Cat likes to climb up on kitchen counters? Again, use the cat's body to scrub them clean. Surprisingly, it seems that no matter how much piss and food sauces are forcibly embedded into the cat's fur, it simply will not stop going to these off-limits areas.

We appear to be having a communication breakdown, cat.

#2 - Dispose of

When an employee is no longer needed, they're typically fired; helping them take personal stock of how big of a fuck up they were. Relationship simply not working? You dump 'em, and the situation resolves itself. You can't break up with a cat though; and turning it loose would only be wishing ill of whomever finds it. Naturally then, you just throw the cat away.

Seems pretty straight forward and logical, but again, seems to have no effect on the cat. No matter how many times you pick the cat up and gently place it into the trash receptacle, it seems to find a way out. Thereby allowing it to perpetuate the clearly dysfunctional relationship between you two.


#1 - Physical Violence

Let's say for sake of argument, that you're being a piece of shit, and need a manual adjustment. If I haul off and thrust my fist into you, your behavior generally changes in rather rapid order. For countless centuries, man has applied this system to interactions ranging in scale from person-to-person to empire-to-empire dealings. And it's worked out pretty well so far.

It stands to reason then that because it's a working sociological format, that it would be completely ineffective towards cats. When you come home to find a hefty cat-log left in the middle of the floor, after repeatedly, and generously, explaining that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, sometimes shit has to be escalated. Escalation being in the form of a jab to the torso.

You'll find that the cat will immediately run away, which is a positive sign. You may not even see the cat for days, and assume that you've rightly put the fear of God into it, forcing it to consider its actions before undertaking them. But you'd be wrong. The cat is now only hiding its logs in tougher to reach spots, and will not fear the fist o' justice it knows comes with the territory.

What do you tell a cat that has two black eyes? Nothing. You've already told it twice.

The only foolproof way to deal with a cat is to avoid them all-together. Do not allow you or your loved ones to become burdened with this untrainable beast. The best cat is a non-existent one.

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