I'm so proud of my kitties!
Bruce has learned a "drop it" command - without me even trying to teach her! (Who teaches a cat to "drop it"?)
Recently, she was playing with a rubberband, and it looked like she was starting to eat it, so I said "what are you eating?" as I have said many many times. To my surprise, she dropped the rubberband and backed off a bit, waiting to see what I would do. I was impressed and praised her profusely. Later that day, she was intently stalking a fly, and actually succeeded in catching it! (The kitties both love to chase flying insects.) Reflexively, I said "what are you eating" and she actually dropped the fly! (Considering that she'd been in hunt and capture mode, I'm really amazed that she let it go.) I praised her again and again, and gave her a couple of greenies to make up for taking the fly.
I'm working on this as a command with Ninjai also, and she is also doing well. There's a lot to be said for verbal repetition when working with animals (my golden retriever, Yankee, who I raised from a puppy when I was in high school learned to recognize the phrase "call the dog!" as a command meaning "back off from me" in much the same way - he'd back off a few feet and then wait for further instructions.)
All of this has had me thinking about feral cats quite a bit lately. Bruce is a tiger (tabby) and tortie mix - known as a torbi. I learned that when cats breed randomly, that many of them come out as tabby or tabby variations. (Markings are not very closely related to breed, apparently, and geneticists believe that the tabby or tiger markings very likely go all the way back to the first domesticated cats.)
I've also read that ferals are very difficult to tame if they are rescued when over a month old.
My cats are amazing, and I feel so incredibly fortunate to have them. If it wasn't so difficult to adopt out non-purebred kittens, I'd really consider letting them each have a litter, as they are truly exceptional kitties and it's sad that they won't get to pass along their intelligence and unique personalities. (Of course, they were fixed when I got them, so it's a moot point anyway.)
Then again, I also get to thinking about them in another light: how fortunate it was that they were found and rescued at such a young age. These are AMAZING cats, and we are all lucky to have one another. I've been learning a bit about feral cats, and the people who work to help them.
Apparently, kittens born feral are very fortunate if they live to two years old. There are so many predators (not to mention cars) and some actually die of anemia caused by fleas.
When they were found, Ninjai and Bruce both had ringworm (a miserable, itchy skin fungus) as well as eye infections. Ninjai's eyes were so bad that Carole feared that she might lose sight in one, but Carole diligently and lovingly nursed both of them back to health (along with a third kitten, who I sadly could not take in, but who was quickly adopted from the SF SPCA. I'm sure she is bringing much joy to her new home.)
Bruce and Ninjai are so happy here. We dote on them (although we also have clear boundaries which they understand, like don't hop up on the table, don't claw people, etc... and now "what are you eating" aka drop that!)
I is Happy.
(For their catster pages, check the link box in the right hand margin!)
(Hopefully someday the LJ icon-maker will function again... I want one with them!)