Several years ago, a popular YouTube video showed a young woman attempting to bathe her cat in a tub of water. The horrified cat appeared to be screaming nooooo each time it was moved closer to the water.
Now, I ask, how funny is that?
Not very, unless you are sadistic and enjoy scaring the wits out of a helpless animal.
The person recording the event and the woman holding the feline thought it was hilarious enough to publish the episode online.
The owners of the cat were unaware of the abject fear the cat was exhibiting, but the video was shockingly brutal to someone who understood the cat’s body language.
“I don’t think they were trying to be mean, I just don’t think they recognized the cat’s trauma,” said Jennifer Mauger of Akron, Ohio, owner of L’Chaim Canine and Feline.
Mauger, a certified professional dog trainer, said she realized that for the sake of their feline pets, owners needed to be educated on the responsibilities of owning a cat.
Some pet owners believe it is necessary to bend a pet to their will for its own good. All that does is cause ill will between a cat and its owner, Mauger said.
“You can do almost anything to a dog and it will forgive you. A cat is not like that,” said Mauger during a class on kitten basics held at her Richfield, Ohio, studio.
The classes teach kittens 8 to 12 weeks of age the art of socialization under the tutelage of Juice, the staff cat. The sessions help accustom the kittens to different sights, sounds and textures via a mat in the center of the room piled with irresistible toys.
Naturally, a couple of them discovered it was more fun to explore a few boxes stacked under a table.
It took about 15 minutes of solitary play before the six kittens discovered the toys were more fun while playing with a companion. Those favoring the boxes began chasing each other in a game of tag.
Owners are taught to recognize feline behavior and how to handle a kitten properly so they aren’t fearful. The class teaches owners it is possible to take the fear out of getting into a carrier for a trip to the vet, or to trim their claws so there is no need to have a cat declawed — a horrible and inhumane surgery in the eyes of most pet lovers.
“If we can avoid declawing, that’s what we want to do. If the nails are short enough, they aren’t going to scratch,” she said.
A word to the wise, Mauger noted: Cats need scratching posts taller than they are when stretched out. Don’t waste money on a scratching post that is too short.
“So, if your cat is 20 inches long when stretched to its fullest length, you should provide it with a 25-inch high scratching post,” she said.
Shoving an ill cat into a carrier is very traumatic for an animal that is not crate trained and can result in numerous cat scratches for the owner.
“The No. 1 reason people don’t take pets to the vet is because they can’t get them in the carrier,” Mauger said.
On a recent Monday, assistant trainer Kelsey Hrusch clipped the claws of an 8-week-old kitten that was so intent on licking baby food from a spoon she had no idea she was being attended to.
Three kittens from Pawsibilities, Humane Society of Greater Akron attended the sessions “because they needed a little extra socialization,” Mauger said.
One of the younger kittens at the class, a feral rescue, learned hand targeting — touching its nose to Mauger’s hand to get a reward — in less than three minutes.
As Mauger moved the treat-filled spoon in her left hand behind her back until the cat touched her right hand, unbeknownst to Mauger, a second kitten patiently waited behind her for the spoon to reappear to delicately take a lick.
Whoever termed the phrase “dumb animals” obviously never met an 8-week-old kitten.
Within the two-week, $40 session, kittens learn to adjust to harnesses and leashes, meet friendly dogs, come when called (OK, if they choose to come) and get into their crates by themselves.
The whole idea is to accustom animals to the things you want them to do and not make them afraid and run away, or fight back.
Cats are members of a family and should be treated as such.