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Rapid Learning Behavior in Felines

It’s amazing how quickly our cat learns new behaviors.  He’s quite sick so we’ve been more accommodating than we’d normally be, but we have to be very careful what we choose to do: because he will come to expect and demand it.

Exhibit A: Drinking From the Bathroom Faucet.

This was never a cat activity before, but he’s been severely dehydrated at the vet’s several months in a row, so we figured that might help encourage him to drink more.

Now he camps outside the bathroom so he can mew piteously at you and look longingly at the sink.

Exhibit B: Food Bowl On Demand.

He has lost 20% of his bodyweight in the past month (after dropping precipitously every month prior to that for the past 4-5 as well) and has been showing less and less of an interest in food, so two days ago I hit on the “bright” (please notice the quotation marks) idea of bringing a food bowl up by my computer where he spends most of his time and hoping the nearness of food would tempt him.

It definitely has, but he also now, sometimes as often as once an hour, hops on the desk and sniffs at the spot where I put the bowl with a “hm, so odd, I know I left food here just a moment ago” look (I move it, otherwise his very-overweight brother would happily eat it to save a trip downstairs.)  He often only eats a few kibbles, as both have always been slow grazers, but at least he’s eating.

I’ve seen him still eat from the bowl downstairs so he hasn’t formed a total dependency on food at my desk, but it was amazing to see him fixate on “there’s a bowl here I can have if I can JUST figure out where it went” after only two rounds of finding the bowl.

Exhibit C: The Lost Litterbox.

Many years ago, their litterbox was upstairs in the master bathroom because I had housemates.  Many years ago, as in 4-5 years ago — over a third of his lifespan.  Recently we had an electrician in, and he was doing work in the house for almost ten hours, so I decided to bring up a litterbox for the cats.  This litterbox was in the bathroom for no more than two hours total.

At least once a day since then Kulha will meow at me until he gets me to stand up, lead me into the bedroom, walk into the bathroom, and stare at the spot his litterbox had been, with his ears turned back towards me in a very clear “Ok, see this? Now fix it!” attitude.

Two hours. And now I’m pestered daily until when (and if) he forgets again.

3 comments to Rapid Learning Behavior in Felines

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