How to Train Your Cat to Come When You Call Its Name

          This new information is not new.  But—if your brain does not already possess this possibly-useful knowledge—you'll immediately grasp its common sense basis, as you palm-slap your forehead and say, "Where's this simple information been all my life?"

          Dogs come when they are called because their brains easily translate human-speak (no matter the language we use); I posit that German is the best human-language dogs can translate.  I say this, not because I lived in Germany for four years and witnessed it, but because many of the best dog training schools teach humans to speak to their dogs using German-language commands.

          The reason is simple once you know it.  All dogs bark in a staccato manner; their brains are conditioned to hear other-dog communication this way:  noise. silence. noise. silence.  Since German words are barked (even by the most smooth-voiced German orators) teaching non-German speaking humans to use German words when communicating with their dog insures the animal hears sharp, distinct, clipped commands.  There's not much difference between "stop" and "halt"; "come" and "komm"; or "stay" and "bleiben"; but training with German words prevents the human from slipping from "Skipper— pause —come!" to "cummereSkipperboyURschagoodboyThatzrightcummere".

          Cats meow in a tonally escalating-to-descending manner; their brains are conditioned to hear other-cat communication this way: NoooOoiiiIisennNoiseee.  So when you want your cat to come when you need to sing his or her name.  It doesn't matter what words you use in the song as long as it includes the cat's name.  Just yowl in as plaintive a manner as possible.  If your cat knows its name, it'll come to you.  Probably not the first time you sing it, but if you practice sing-calling every day, several times a day, and stroking and praising it when it comes, "My cat never comes when it is called." will soon become, "My cat comes when I call some of the time." and eventually will become, "My cat comes almost all the time."

          Why almost all the time...why not all the time, like dogs?  Because dogs are like Germans.  Punctual.  Practical.  Reliable.  Cats are like you and me (and—if you're German—this is a metaphor.  Stop. Taking. Things. So. Literally.  Good boy).  When our phones ring we check caller ID, decide if we're in the mood, too busy, too tired...and maybe-sometimes we even turn off our phones because we don't want to be bothered.  When you sing-call for your cat in the middle of its nap on the laundry you took out of the dryer but haven't gotten around to folding yet, don't be surprised if it "hits ignore" and goes back to sleep.

          This truth is buried in everything we innately know about dogs and cats.  The best names for dogs are short and roll off the tongue in a punchy, almost monosyllabic manner (Rex, Fido, Jack) while the best names for cats are long and drawn out (Cecil O. Zonkey).  Sure, you may use its short nickname but you realize that's for your own benefit.  Not his.  All he hears is dog-speak.

          When my cat is off doing his own thing and I sing, "whereismyCECILBoy-o-boy-o-ZooOooNKeEeYBoOy..i-sure-missMyCECILloO-ZOoooonKeeey."  He comes.  90% of the time.  I understand it'll be done at cat pace and not dog pace.  Cats need to stretch.  Focus.  Think about their next inactive action.  Smell and listen to check if danger is present.  Then mozy.  It may take a few sung phrases.  He may not arrive for a few minutes.

          I think it's fantastic he only blows me off once in a while since I ignore phone calls from family and friends at least that often.

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