Cats crash the party at Westminster Dog Show

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

Yes, this is probably old news by now. But I think it is such a significant development that it bears repeating. The domestic cats’ plans for world domination is finally coming to fruition.

Seriously.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

How do I know?

Simple. In an unprecedented feat, a bunch of cats just participated in an agility competition — at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

“For the first time, felines sidled up to the nation’s premier dog show, as part of an informational companion event showcasing various breeds of both species. It included a cat agility demonstration contest, while more than 300 of the nation’s top agility dogs vied in a more formal competition,” a Connecticut-based NBC TV affiliate reported.

Cat agility at dog show yields mixed reaction

Apparently, this did not sit well with some dog lovers. To Hannah Naiburg of Milford, Conn., for example, the whole situation was just “so weird.”

Personally, I think anyone willing to enter their dog in an agility competition could show a little more flexibility. And some of them did.

Tina Ackerman of Goffstown, N.H., was perfectly fine with the idea of cats participating in agility competitions. Just as long as it’s not her cat.

“Good for them,” she said. “There’s no way we could ever have trained any of our cats to do agility.”

And the winner is…

When all was said and done, a rookie named Bemisu won the feline agility competition. And apparently, it only took her about half-an-hour to learn the ropes.

“I had no idea she would learn so fast,” said her owner Blake Gipson, who also has a pit bull. “She’s smarter than I ever gave her credit for.”

Bemisu’s success didn’t come as a surprise to Vickie Shields, who “helped organize cat agility as a sport” 14 years ago.

Contrary to popular belief, cats aren’t loners, Shields said. And because many cats enjoy chasing toys, training is also easier than most people think, she added.

It all depends on the cat

It’s a good point. After all, even house cats are predators. Their innate need to chase their prey is often manifested as “play.” So it makes sense that some cats enjoy chasing toys on an agility course.

However, I disagree with something else Shields said. She maintained that most cats “are often more motivated by chasing toys than getting treats.” I say it all depends on the cat. And I speak from experience.

When I first got Eli back in February 2008, he was obsessed with food. He was such a glutton that he would wolf everything down within a couple of minutes after I put it down. So in order to teach him patience and discipline, I taught him to sit.

You heard me. I taught my cat to sit.

Here’s how I did it: Whenever I put food on his saucer at mealtime, I told him to come and when I had his attention I held the saucer up in the air, so he had to look up at it. As he did, he naturally ended up in a sitting position. I reinforced all of this by saying “sit.” So he eventually learned to associate the word and his behavior with being fed. And the rest is history.

Today Eli sits on command (when he feels like it). He also comes when he’s called (when it suits him). He meets me at the door (sometimes). He also sleeps on my bed.

Yes, Eli is a very doglike cat. But he is a cat. And he’s awesome.

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