Many people assume cats aren’t trainable; have you ever seen a cat play dead, roll over, bark on command, or play fetch? And if you don’t believe cats are trainable, would you believe goldfish are trainable?
This isn’t an Onion video! And it isn’t a gimmick to get people to buy a fancy, expensive training kit for their lazy, boring goldfish. Ogden Lindsley, one of B. F. Skinner’s first graduate students, had his students train gold fish. He explains the process here.
I’ve recently learned just how trainable cats are: After a few days of a several 5-minute clicker training sessions, Misha and Carmen seem to be picking up on target training. Either that or they just like to chase the fuzzy orange pipe cleaner attached to the end of the target stick. I suspect this isn’t the case, though, because most of the time they walk up to the target and sometimes even touch the target with their noses. Maybe I’ll collect and graph data on their performance… Anyway, Carmen seems to be a little more challenging: She’s a picky and slow eater and hasn’t shown much interest in dry treats, which have been easier to use than wet food. When I tried training Misha with wet food he went a little crazy (watching him you’d think he hadn’t eaten in days) and training sessions ended with him covered in pulverized fish guts (i.e., the wet food).
Regardless, I’m excited to continue clicker training our cats Misha and Carmen, and who knows, maybe they can learn to play dead, roll over, and play fetch.