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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

I recently adopted an 8 week old kitten, who has not found his name yet. I brought him home two days ago from the shelter, and I am already in love. We're starting Kitten Classes in two weeks at my vet's office. Should be fun!

I live in a large apartment with a roommate and her 16 month old spayed cat "Zazzy". The kitten and Zazzy have not spent time together yet, as the kitten stays in my bedroom for now. I'd rather go slow with the introduction and be sure that we won't have any issues than rush and have regrets.

Zaz has separation anxiety and pica (she eats things that aren't food), which was a real struggle for the first few months. However, as long as she is properly exercised, entertained and has limited exposure to her triggers it is now under control. She is very high energy. My roommate works 10-11 hours a day, and I don't mind taking on the cat exercise duties since I mostly work from home. Zazzy and I have been doing cat agility for six months or so, and she is a superstar at it. She loves to jump. She'd rather jump than do any other piece of equipment (though there are no pieces she won't try). We are starting to train on weave poles and she is doing really well. She also does a lot of other tricks: high five, bow, fetch, play dead, roll over, and a few neat "disc dog" moves to catch her favourite toy mouse. Zaz is extremely friendly with people and other cats. She goes on regular play dates with my roommate's parent's two friendly cats, as well as with our neighbors' three sweet Siamese. We can just say "Wanna go see Tony?" and Zaz is at the door, ready to go! She and Tony (a giant lynx point Siamese) are particularly close. They play wrestle for a while and then settle down to groom each other's ears and have a nap.

I think the kitten and Zaz will be a good fit. Zaz is a confident, energetic goofball, and the kitten is a confident sweet lovebug. His personality is very similar to Zaz's "boyfriend" Tony, in fact. He is also a big shoulder kitten, which is something I love. I had a shoulder cat growing up, and it's a behaviour I just adore.

Anyways, that is us! It's nice to be here.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited by Moderator)
Finally, A Name!

My new kitten went nameless for over a week because I just couldn't settle on one. However, I am now proud to introduce:

Neville Longbottom


He's just about 11 weeks old, and he is perfect! I suspect now that he is not the black cat I thought he was: I think he might be a black smoke. His tabby markings are more clear than any I've seen on a black cat before, and under his chin, groin, etc is a pale creamy grey. If you part his fur, his undercoat is very pale as well, though darker where the tabby stripes are. In over a decade at working at vet clinics, though, I've only seen two confirmed black smokes so I could definitely be wrong! It's not like I have a lot of experience identifying them :) We'll have to see when his adult fur comes in, I suppose.

Showing off his fluffy grey pits:


For some reason these photos make his pale stripes look a lot darker than they actually are. In real life the contrast between his grey stripes and his black stripes is very clear, regardless of the lighting It's definitely not your typical black cat stripes, which you generally only see in bright light.

He is a wonderful kitten. He purrs every time he even looks at a human, and is rather desperate to be friends with my roommate's cat. However he is still in quarantine as he is from a shelter and was sneezing a bit over the last few days. He is now harness trained- only took three days- and will put on his own harness as much as he can (we still have to do up the buckles, though). Neville is an adventurous, sweet guy and I'm so happy he joined my life!
 

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Neville looks beautiful. You interact more with your cats than anyone I've known. I think I take it for granted that my cats wouldn't take well to training, but who knows until you put in the time?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't think all cats would respond well to training in agility: it's really physical and intense, so your average Persian would have a hard time keeping themselves cool (short faces). Some cats are just not as motivated, as well. Like dogs: not all dogs can be search and rescue dogs! Some are just fine being lovely pets. Zazzy just happens to have a few behavioural issues that demand a lot of physical and mental activity to address. I purposely chose my new kitten as one who may mature into a cat who would like the activities I do: adventurous, bold, extremely outgoing and well socialized. He already learned to stand still for me to put his harness on, come to his name, sit for his meals, and fetch a paper ball. He is very smart!

Cats are also more difficult to motivate than your average dog. They really have to want whatever you are offering: be hungry if you are training with food, be feeling affectionate if you are training with scratches, be rambunctious if you are training with play, etc. It's very much a "payment for work" scenario, and their pay off better be "worth" the work you are asking of them in their minds, or else they will just walk away in disgust. If your cat will only work for food and it's not hungry, you aren't going to get very far!

As someone who specializes in animal behaviour, I do believe that ALL animals can be trained to a certain extent. I guarantee you that you have trained your cats before: learning is lifelong and can certainly be inadvertent. If your cats have a particular way they ask for affection, or meow at you at dinner time... congratulations, you have trained your cat! :)
 

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Ooooh, NL is perfectly charming! :) I've had black cats with that pale undercoat, but never saw stripes on them.

Funny about training... I always thought the *cat* had trained *me*!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Funny about training... I always thought the *cat* had trained *me*!
In essence, all training is nothing more than effective two-way communication between teacher and learner. Like virtually all living things (right down to single celled organisms), cats are extremely good at making "if-then" contingencies.

"If she is in the kitchen, and I meow like this, then she puts my food dish down!"
"If she says "jump", and I jump over this thing in front of me, then I get a treat!"
"If we are on the couch, and I touch her face gently with my paw, then she picks me up!"

In return, by sitting on the couch you are saying "If you touch my face with your paw right now, then I will pick you up".

If that isn't two-way communication, I don't now what is! :)
 

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Aw, the pic's no longer there, but I assume that's him in your avatar pic? What a little cutie he is! Both he and Zaz seem like very smart and active kitties - I hope the intro goes well! :)
 
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