Bookending Your Cat

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We've all been there . . .
You need to do something to your cat . . .
And you know it isn't going to like it . . .
It may be trimming its claws . . .
or giving it a medication . . .
or (Yikes!) a bath.

But whatever it is, you know your kitty is unlikely to be be co-operative.
And because kitty doesn't like it, neither do you.

Stop worrying. With a little bit of training and a little bit of practice, both you and your cat can learn to (almost) enjoy the dreaded "something".

How you ask? By "Bookending"!

The Bookending Training Technique

"Bookending" is a method of training your cat to accept (and even look forward to) what is usually an unpleasant experience. It is called "Bookending" because you begin by doing something the cat likes such as playing or eating a treat, you then perform the "dreaded" procedure as quickly as possible, and then end with a repeat of the pleasant experience.

You are putting enjoyable "bookends" on each side of the thing the cat doesn't like... thus the term, bookending.

The Bookends

The "bookends" can be anything the cat enjoys:

  • A Chin Rub
  • A Favorite Treat such as Baby Food or Chicken
  • Playtime with a Teaser
  • Catnip
  • ANYTHING your cat loves and enjoys...

The Unpleasant Experiences

Some of the "things" that your cat may not like that you can use the bookending technique with include:

  • Clipping Toenails
  • Cleaning Ears
  • Wiping Eyes
  • Examining or Brushing Teeth
  • Face Washing
  • Bathing
  • Combing
  • Giving a Medication
  • Expressing Anal Glands
  • Taking Temperature
  • Treating a Wound or Abscess

The Bookending Procedure

The key to bookending is for the unpleasant task to be performed IMMEDIATELY following the first bookend.

For Example:

  • Bookending Clipping Toenails With A Favorite Treat
    • Prepare to trim your cats toenails
    • Just before you are going to trim the first nail give your cat its treat.
    • Immediately following the treat, begin trimming the nails.
    • As soon as you are finished, give the cat another treat.
  • Bookending Medication With A Teaser
    • Start playing with your cat with a teaser. Get it really interested in chasing the teaser
    • Once the cat is involved in the teaser, quickly scoop it up in your arms.
    • Pop the pill down its throat.
    • Immediately put it back on the ground and begin playing with the teaser again.
    • If you do it fast enough, kitty won't even have time to object to the pill because it is immediately chasing the teaser again.
  • Bookending A Face Wash With A Chin Rub
    • Give kitty a nice chin rub.
    • As the cat relaxes, take a tissue and clean the face, especially the eyes and nose.
    • Before the cat can object to the cleaning, return to the chin rub.
    • Repeat the procedure until the face is clean.

Which Bookend Should I Use?

Every cat is unique. Pick a "bookend" that works for the individual kitty. Some cats have a favorite treat that they adore. Other cats are quick to play. Still others want to relax with a good massage. You figure out what works best for your kitty. If you are not sure, try different things until you discover what your cat responds to.

Reasonable Expectations

It will take a few practice sessions using the bookending method before your cat will be more focused on the upcoming treat that the unpleasantness, but it will work with most cats if you do it often enough. And be consistent!

Start early with kittens and they will actually start to look forward to things like regular baths, nail trims and face washes.

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