Friday, October 12, 2012

Rewards - Learning from my cats

If I have not previously mentioned in one of my postings, Kelly and I have cats. Three fur balls.

[caption id="attachment_564" align="alignnone" width="584" caption="Monty, Max and Muggles"][/caption]

Much is written about how one does not own a cat, about how they in fact own us. Cats are aloof, proud, mysterious, and good at letting you know when they are not happy. Our cats, on the other hand, love attention. They will follow us around trying to get our attention, or at least get into something they can play with.

Early on we worked with our cats a lot, held them, helped them understand that being held was a good thing, a reward. Kitty treats helped in this training. OK – I have not eaten any of the kitty treats, but somehow our cats will do things for them that food in their food bowl does not match. For a while I was buying a different kind of cat food and pretending it was kitty treats. Hmmm, actually, it worked just fine. But, Kelly, being a soft-hearted lass, thought this was unfair, so we are back to using kitty treats to reward and train our cats.

So. Why am I writing about our kitties? Because, like our kitties, we are all pretty much trainable. In an early post I talked about my method of making myself look forward to taking a test. It involved not having to do any homework on the evening after I had taken a test. To make this reward work I had to plan ahead, get homework done ahead of time, but, it was worth it. And I came to enjoy taking tests. Which meant I was also able to do well on my tests – believe me, you will do better on a test is you are not nervous about it.

My reward – an evening to do what I wanted. As long as I planned before hand how I would get homework done early, hey - it was not a bad reward. A positive reward - sort of like with our cats – turns out the kitty treats that we buy are extra crunchy, which helps to keep our cats teeth clean. Which is a very good thing – ever try to clean a cats teeth? I tried a few times – they make these neat little pieces of cloth with toothpaste type stuff on them. Easy – just pop open your loving cats mouth and rub these pieces of cloth on their teeth with your finger.

Turns out that toothpaste on the cloth also makes a good disinfectant when the loving little kitty sinks his or her loving little teeth into your finger. If bleeding badly enough, you can also use the little piece of cloth as a miniature tourniquet.

Where was I? Oh yes, rewards. Positive rewards. Perhaps lying to oneself. And behavior modification - so that we do more healthy things.

My next post will talk a bit more about cookies - the Stephen equivalent of kitty treats!

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