One Day I Will Understand Why It's Easier to Train My Cat Than My Dog. But Not Today.
Pictured here in a moment of unassailable dignity.
Returning home after the holidays, I set myself a task: train the cat to come and sit beside me on the couch, and allow me to pet her, before she received her dinner. As a proper frame for the trick, one has to understand that this cat would not even be in the same room as me for the first six months after I met her. With the influence of my warm personality, she has gradually become more social, submitting to her morning feeding ritual, and occasionally even venturing out in public when we have guests. She remain skeptical of the benefits of petting, even from my wife, the one person she unquestionably loves. (I have been #2 since I met the cat in the beginning of 2012, but it's a measure of how little she likes people that I have constantly increased in affection received over this period and remain far behind my wife.)
Instituting the evening feeding process took about two weeks: a few days of picking her up, sitting her on the couch next to me, and petting her for 15 seconds; a week of her attempting every other trick she knows to get food, in a battle of wills* that would last long into the evening (when she'd run things out past 10:00pm, she'd get dry food, which she barely acknowledges to be food at all). Now, if I set my laptop aside, she will come and sit next to me, and twist herself around in love/hate, while I pet her, for as long as it takes for me to decide to feed her.
As with the morning feeding ritual, the only question is why I waited so long to try this.
*I have one merit as an animal trainer: once I decide not to lose a battle of will, I do not lose it, and I am prepared to wait or to repeat as often as necessary until I win.