Some years ago I read an article in a scientific magazine, I think it was Discovery or Omni or the National Enquirer, that you couldn't train a cat.
Cat's are independent, the article intoned. Cats have their own mind, the article continued. Cats are the masters of their fate, the article concluded.
Nonsense. My cat, Nobbs, has been totally trained and does exactly what I want him to do. Without question.
For example, I have trained Nobbs to leap upon my back in the dead of night, clutch me with all four legs - claws extended - and bite me on the knee as a sign that he wants to go out. I get up and let him out.
I've also taught him that if he doesn't want to go out at that exact moment, to wander into the kitchen by going through the den, up the stairs, around the TV room, through Claire's bathroom, back through the TV room, across to the study, down the stairs, through the living room and into the kitchen where I can pour him a midnight snack of Cat Chow. I can tell you it took quite a lot of training to get him to take that route which is about a mile in length in our house. I appreciate the exercise. Nobbs appreciates the Chow. Win-win, I say.
While Nobbs is Chowing down I'll wander back to bed. Just when I've drifted back to sleep I've trained Nobbs to leap on my shoulder and exhale tuna-Chow breath into my nostrils. The effect is accentuated by claws in the shoulder and a "Rowl!" in the ear. It's a complicated maneuver that took me years to perfect.
I then get up and follow Nobbs to the front door, via the upstairs study, pantry, guest bedroom, dining room table and bookcase where I let him out for the night.
As I stumble back to bed I think, Siegfried and Roy. Pikers!