The Show Must Go On

I recently watched the Acro-Cats on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”. Who are the Acro-Cats you may be asking? They are a troop of specially trained trick cats that are far more talented than meow is. They’ve taken obstacle and agility course stunts to a much grander level, and even have their own music band called the Rock Cats. Not bad for a bunch of rescue kitties.

Here’s the show under review:

If anyone saw them like that for the first time, I guess I can’t blame those who couldn’t hold back their catty hairballs of sarcastic humour.  I have to catfess though, I thought the comments could have been much worse than they were, and was glad they weren’t. If their trainer Samantha Martin had been able to preface the performance by saying that sometimes things don’t go as planned, it might have gone a long way to elicit a little more understanding. Being a trick cat myself, I can totally empathize with the level of distraction those kitties must have experienced being on a show like that: the noise, the lights, the size of the venue. I probably wouldn’t have left the safety of my carrier either no matter what tasty treat they waved in front of me.

So what do you do when the stars of the show won’t purrform? The show must go on, and if you have to, fake some of it like it’s part of the show. I was very impressed with the way the humans just kept smiling and moving on to the next stunt with their arm raised ‘Ta Das” even when any of the cats couldn’t overcome it’s stage fright to perform it’s trick. Stephen Colbert, to the audience’s delight, joined the act and pretended he was a cat doing the “roll the ball along the balance beam” trick. Of course for those cats that did perform their tricks, the audience was very supportive and, judging by the laughter, all in all it was still very a entertaining act, even though it seemed like it was a bit of a fail. But on the other hand judging by the comments, some of audience members weren’t really sure if that was the way the act was supposed to be or not, so then it was actually rather genius when you think about it. The music really had a lot to do with that as some of the notes in light genre refrains seemed to play with the scene.

To be fair, I think their real abilities deserve equal air time so you can see they’re not fake. Take a couple of minutes and check out this video from Youtube.com. We think they, and what they are doing for shelter kitties everywhere, is very special and I wholeheartedly recommend their show to everyone.

=^,,^=


Writing 101 Day 12: Critique a piece of work; express your opinion on a topic or a piece of work. This is your opportunity to comment on something you’re passionate about, or review a piece of art or entertainment that you love or despise. You can approach this assignment in your own style and preferred format. Here are some ideas: Review something you’ve recently read, watched, or experienced: a book, movie, TV show, art exhibit, festival, or something else.

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Motion Monday: Cat Agility Around the World

Meow my furiends,

Today on Motion Monday I would like to show you several short videos on other kitties showing off their agility skills ranging from beginner to more advanced. You might think an agility course needs a large outdoor area, but as in the first video, it can be setup indoors, on a table! Do you think you need to start out as a kitten to learn? The second video shows a formerly feral cat who started at seven years old! From cute cat tricks to a cat that can skateboard, we cats are very athletic. You don’t have to learn agility to compete either. You can learn for just fur fun and fur your human’s enjoyment.

My humans had a very busy week so we didn’t get the exercise room setup for me like we planned, so this post is “Plan B”. This week we’ll be assembling the PVC tubes and fittings my humans purchased to show your humans next week how easy (theoretically) it will be to put together the weave poles and a jump. Mom made a teeter totter out of a wedge shaped log and the leaf out of the dining room table…how creative.

A “crash course” in cat agility video filmed at cat show in Turku Finland…

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Motion Monday: Agility Tunnel Training

Today furiends I’d like to show you how I am progressing with the tunnel obstacle.

While my human was post-editing my video, I did a little web-surfing on the history of cat agiltiy. I was surprised to learn that the birth of dog agility was rather unintentional. Back in 1978 at London’s famous Crufts Dog Show, a horse-enthusiast was tasked with entertaining the crowd between events. He came up with an event that employed dogs doing equestrian-like feats. It was a hit, and then in 1986 it came to America under the title of the U.S. Dog Agility Association. It was so much fun that it has become the fastest-growing dog sport in history.

ICAT started 17 years later in 2003 by four cat show women who knew how beautiful cats could be when in motion. With their horse, dolphin, dog and cat show backgrounds they also knew how to train their  furiends. The first  ICAT event was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October 2003 at a TICA cat show hosted by Enchanted Cat Club. ICAT and cat agility was a huge success! Exhibitors and spectators got caught up in watching the lively, athletic race of the cats and their handlers through the agility course.

Ten years after that, on November 26, 2013, Bite TV and Force Four Entertainment announced the start of a fun new web and TV series called Battle Cats (6×30 scripted comedy). Battle Cats is a competition-based series that tests the true skills of us felines.  A cat agility arena was built right here in the greater Vancouver (B.C. Canada) area and was designed as the ultimate adventure course.

This week mom is working on building a few missing obstacles, and setting up a training course in her exercise room for me. That should be interesting. =^,,^=

Motion Picture Monday: Clicker and Target Training Cats

Today my furiends is the first of our new weekly feature called “Motion Picture Monday” (I think we’ll shorten that to just “Movie Monday”.) The movies will document how I learn through clicker and target training to navigate various obstacles that are commonly found in an agility course. What is clicker and target training you ask? It’s a means of communicating with our humans in the form of a game, that not only shapes desired behaviour, but improves the quality of life for both of us, especially if you’re an indoors only cat. This is the method humans use to train dolphins. It’s is a science-based system called operant conditioning using positive reinforcement and a marker signal. It doesn’t have to be just for agility or cute cat tricks, (although I purrsonally think how much more adoptable a shelter cat would be if he/she knew a couple) it can also correct behavioural problems too by building new ones to replace unwanted ones.

clicktreatMom is still learning how to be a trainer and is figuring it out as she goes, but as long as she plays with me, I’m OK with that. First she had to figure out the difference in her own mind between clicker and target training, what the purpose of  each was, and when to use them. She’s come to the conclusion that the clicker is the signal used to mark or shape the behaviour, and the target stick is used to lure me around…to follow it. Both are rewarded with treats at some point. The key is practice, practice, and more practice…. and don’t forget the treats! Eventually the target stick won’t be needed when I  have learned the hand and verbal cues, but we’re not at that point yet. Verbal cues would be spoken words such as “sit”, “up”, “down”, “roll over”, “jump”,  etcetera, and we’d follow their hands instead of the target stick.
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Battle Cats Contender

Writing 101, Day 15 You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart — an annual fair, festival, or conference — will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization).  was held without you knowing about it. For your twist, read your piece aloud, multiple times. Hone that voice of yours!


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My contentious look!

Hey, did you hear about auditions for a new TV show called Battle Cats? No! Me either! They announced it in November and I didn’t find out about it until…MAY! and by then it was too late…. grrrr. I can’t believe I missed it. I watch the news on TV almost every night, and the only night it was broadcasted, my humans where AWOC! (absent without cat!) Finally, a televised cat show held practically in my own backyard… a 30 minute car ride away… and I’m not going to be in it. I’ve trained long and hard for something like this. Sit, click, treat! Shake a paw, click, treat! High five, click, treat! TARGET! Target? Touch the nose on the pom pom end of the stick, click, treat! Follow the pom-pom UP! Follow the pom-pom DOWN! Follow the freak’n pom-pom all AROUND, click, treat! Oh ya, I’m so ready, but I’m not going to be in it.

Can you tell I’m a little ticked? You know it. “I coulda been a contender”, is all I think of now. A competition to show off how agile I am… how svelte I am… especially under pressure. Yep, they missed out on finding the fiercest Battle Cat of them all. I’m the cathlete of cathletes. They want meow factor, I got meow factor. They want catitude, guess what I got. What they don’t got, is me, and believe me, they need me. Just know this TV humans running Battle Cats, I am honing my skills. I have watched some episodes on Youtube and I know what to do. I reached out and left you my name and number. I know where you are, and you know where I am, so let’s not let this happen again when season 2 comes around shall we…and there better be a season 2. Or else!

 

Missing Cat

Writing 101, Day 12: Today, write a post with roots in a real-world conversation. For a twist, include foreshadowing.


Pepsi

Mom was going through some old family photos and pawsed at one of a beautiful blue-eyed lynx point short-haired cat named Pepsi. She told me one day the family was heading out on a week long boating trip and had left Pepsi in the care of the grandparents. Having let her out earlier that morning mom figured Pepsi would have been back before they left, but when the time came to go, and after a quick glance at her watch and still no sign of her in the neighboring yards, Mom had to get into the packed car without saying good bye. Dad told her not to worry and Pepsi would be inside safe and sound by that night. Continue reading

Flavourites of Kittenhood

Writing 101 Day 10, Today, be inspired by a favorite kittenhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous.


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My earliest memory is of a not so inspiring kittenhood meal that consisted of some kind of a wet meaty slurry and a bowl of water. About a month later, the slurry became more solid and was joined by another bowl containing little bites of crunchy food. We called them crunchies because kibble sounded a little too dog. Turkey, chicken, beef and fish, my palate was well diversified, and well, still is. Once in a while my human mom would give me a tiny bowl of milk as she had done for all her previous kittens and cats, but then she was “advised” that cows milk was bad for us. I didn’t have a problem digesting it but she didn’t want to take any more chances even though her cat Coco had lived for 18 years supplemented with cows milk now & then.

My humans would be away all day, so being more nocturnal than diurnal, I mostly slept during that time. They’d play with me in the evening, but when they went to bed, I’d be still be wide awake. I tried to sleep with them but after getting rolled on or kicked off the bed once too many times, I ventured back down to the basement and there I learned to hunt. Now being an indoor cat you’d wonder what I would hunt for. Bugs! You’d be surprised how many bugs would come out of the wood work in the dark. I didn’t have to go outside, they came in. Bugs are like vitamins. Spiders, moths, earwigs etc.  Some tasted better than others, but they were all fun to try to catch. Another odd food that I like is lettuce and grass. My human dad would say I’m my mom’s cat because she likes her greens too.  My dad’s not much of a green food guy at all.

I was about 2 months old when a special little bag of food appeared. Hard’n crunchy outside, soft’n meaty inside. Meowee, they were de-lish.  They were so special that they’d be hand fed to me. She’d get a handful of those treats, ten to fifteen of them, and sit with me on the floor in a separate room from anyone else. Just the two of us. It was a special time, our time. Treat, click, treat, click, treat, click.  She called it “charging the clicker” which was teaching me that the clicker meant treats. Those treats combined with the clicker inspired me to learn my tricks. I’d do anything they asked of me. Any flavour too, it didn’t matter.  This would continue for about ten minutes, one or two times a day, for a few days. That was it, I got it. Three months later I had learned 4 tricks: Sit, shake a paw, high five, and sit up. It didn’t matter anymore either who asked me to do the tricks, just as long as they had those or any treats. I’d do them for people food too. Steak and roast chicken were a big favourite. Then, when I was about 7 months old the ultimate treats started, but those are stories for another day. Excuse me now while I make this bowl of Mariner’s Catch disappear, nom nom nom nom! =^,,^=

Mom took this picture of me because I was too young to do it myself.

This is a Sunday Selfies blog hop…

Click here to see more selfies and join the fun…

 

Sea of Blue

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On the way home I was feeling a little blue that our sea-cruise was over. I loved the extra attention bestowed upon me by the humans, not to mention all the treats I received. I will miss my new furiends Tank, Skipper and Cloe, and my humans when at their jobs away from home and me, who were once just a tail-swish away.  The freedom of boating has allowed me to become a lot more accustomed to being outdoors, and it’ll be a pain to go back to window sitting….(MOL, silly cat humour!)  Continue reading

Tricks Are For Cats Too

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It’s a real treat to watch a cat purrform tricks just like a dog. The trick is you need more patience, a lot more, because we aren’t dogs but we are trainable. Humans just love it when I come in the room and show them what I can do, and then they give me lots of treats! However, as you know, we cats like to follow our own agendas on our own time. You’d think with only about 5 mins purr training session that it wouldn’t work, and purrhaps feel like giving up or not even start.  I’m here to encourage you and your humans that if you do decide to start, to not give up too soon because if you purrrsevere, you too can create the magic fur yourselves. Continue reading