I decided that if Tanaka and Akira are going to get along, I can't actually re-introduce them like new cats as they have lived together for 6 years. Tanaka's personality is not going to allow that and Akira is not going to go for it as she has seen through his shenanigans. So I thought leash training may work. I had done it once or twice before but I thought I should use this school vacation to do it in earnest. Of course it is still slow and I have just done a small part of it. Tanaka seems to take it quite well as he will not be locked up in the room and Akira takes it in her stride as she knows he would not be able to chase her as he is on a leash. I am going to introduce the clicker as well as rewards for calming signals should be immediate and by the time I praise him and give him a treat, he would not know what action the reward was for.
Here Tanaka is quite relaxed looking at her but sometimes he can stare at her wide-eyed and tense.
Usually in the day, Akira and Tanaka would take turns to be outside. Now that Akira is more confident, she wants to be outside for longer periods and she asks to be let out. So once I hear her, I would allow her out and Tanaka would be inside. This has gone on for some months and then I decided that I could make both their lives better. So once Akira goes out and after she has investigated the whole house, I would wait for her to rest. She would usually rest on top of the fridge in the kitchen or on top of the night cages in the living room. The length of the leash is also dependent on where she is.
Tanaka knows that when I tie the leash to the gate, it's time for leash training. He would sit he until I put him in his purple harness. It's important that the harness is comfortable as he needs to be in it for an extended time.
It is important that Akira is comfortable and resting easy on top of the cage so she knows she is safe from him. Of course without the leash Tanaka can get here in two leaps but she doesn't have to know that!
Tanaka likes to make a great show of walking about. Here he is not staring at her and I had praised him for it. But he would learn much faster if I had used the clicker to treat him for this action. My conversation with Laura was very educational in this aspect. If he knows this action is a good one, and he gets a treat, he would do it more. On hindsight I was silly not to have thought of such a simple thing.
I had shown this picture before. He is quite alert and his mind is full of just playing with his ball. So he is not concentrating on her at all :). The fact that they are both outside and they can do this is a joy to know. Yes, he knew that Akira was on top of the cage but he chose to walk about and play instead which is a big thing for him.
But notice, san did not give me a treat even when I behaved well. She really needs to step up on the treat thing!
He does look at her many times but now he is more relaxed as he knows that he will not be able to chase her but I wanted them both to enjoy being with each other in the same space. Akira sometimes watches him from on top of the cage as well. So he is alert but calm which is a good thing. We have practiced this many times in 2 months. He knows this is a good thing as he gets a treat.
If we do the training in the evening, he likes to sit here and relax and sometimes he would nap as well. But this is usually when Akira is in the kitchen and there is nothing to see. The important thing here is that he is not stressed when in harness as he needs to be in training for many months before he could be in the same room as Akira without his harness and leash.
This moment( last Friday 13 Dec) was a breakthrough as I had already set up this cat toy the week before. Tanaka likes sitting in it. I was sitting close to him reading and I was quite surprised to see Akira on the bookshelf. This was because Tanaka was in the cat toy for some time relaxing although looking up at her. She had told Fern that if Tanaka does not chase her, she would be more friendly to him so I guess she is keeping to her word.
Tanaka did not move from this position at all. He sat here the whole time. Before he would have jumped at her, even with the harness and leash.
Here Akira had more courage and came even closer. She sat here for 5 minutes and even groomed. So I gave her a great and of course Tanaka got a treat as well. But after 5 minutes she decided she would go up to the cage again to rest
So for the first time in 6 years, I had the 3 cats all in the same space. It was very exhilarating to finally be able to make this happen for all of them, even if it was only for about 5 minutes.
Thank goodness for a less blurry picture but I thought it would be nice to see her getting more and more secure.
THAT was something wasn't it?
Fern came to see them last Saturday and I had asked her to praise Akira for being brave. Akira said, ' I know '. I guess this shows the level of her confidence. Tanaka only said that he wondered if she was going to come down even nearer.
He would sometimes sleep here when he is on leash training but I am always about as it is dangerous to leave him alone in his harness and leash.
This is only a baby step for us. We would be doing more exercises of this kind. At least now I know it can work. All of them talked about the leash training with Laura and so I had detailed it here so that when I write about our conversations it is easier to understand why they said what they did.
I want some treat training as well. Can I have a treat every time I do a calming signal? Yup.
So I have sent for a book on training dogs so I can try to teach them some tricks as well. Maybe if they learn tricks together, they would feel better being with each other.