Why My Cat is My Favorite Training Partner

After that title I am sure your ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ alarm bells are ringing full tilt but hang-on and hear me out. We have one indoor cat named Gizmo. She is 2 years old and full of what my dad would have called ‘piss and vinegar’. She loves to play, on her terms of course, not mine. She amuses me and drives me crazy in equal measure. You may be wondering how this ties into self defense training so let me get on with it.

 The innocent looking ‘Kitty Castle’.
The innocent looking ‘Kitty Castle’.

Gizmo has a kitty castle which sits at the top of the upstairs landing in front of a window. This is the throne from which she surveys her kingdom. When I walk upstairs she will often be in one of the hidey holes or on the turret perch. I can walk upstairs 99 times and she will lay there and watch me. The 1 single time I decide on my way up that I am going to capture her and force her to get a belly rub or some other form of feline torture – she runs away with all due speed. How does she know that that is the one time I was thinking about grabbing her? No matter how careful I am she always, always knows. We have made a game out of it. For me its a fun and also serious game and I wont win until I can figure out what cues I am giving her. Do I make eye contact in a certain way? Do I telegraph my intent thru my body language or the way I step? Do I simply send out invisible brain waves that she picks up out of the air with her extra-feline perception?  I am not sure. I am going to figure it out though. Learning how to focus intently while appearing to not focus at all – that is my goal with Gizmo and her perch.

 Gizmo hiding inside the castle. She knew I had no intentions of grabbing her this time!
Gizmo hiding inside the castle. She knew I had no intentions of grabbing her this time!

Now to downstairs. Our basement stairs are open underneath. Gizmo loves nothing more than to race under the stairs and hide there when she knows you are coming down. You can’t see her and you can never predict when she might be there until she reaches out and grabs the back of your heel/ankle (ouch!) on the last 2 steps. The trick here is to figure out:
1. If she is there at all.
2. If she is and she makes a grab for you to avoid it without leaping the last 2 stairs on a regular basis. My goal is to dodge only when she is going for it.

I admit this second challenge is not very easy. In order to be successful you need to be aware of your surroundings in your own home prior to going downstairs. Often I am focused on whatever I am going downstairs for (think pantry supplies) – not thinking about the cat until I actually hit the stairs. Then I am heading down while still trying to think back on if I have seen her elsewhere recently. Did I hear any scrambling sounds as I opened the door?  Can I hear any sounds that indicate she is lying in wait? If I slow down and creep down the stairs – I loose. I have to do this at a normal speed. As I hit that last few steps I am always ready to try and step to one side or the other but never skip a stair if I can avoid it. If she is there and makes a grab and I manage to avoid it – I win.

Awareness is one of my biggest training goals for this year. Being aware of myself and my strengths and weaknesses and working to improve myself. Being aware of my environment and the people and other living beings in it are all a part of my awareness goals. This is just in a general way – I am not talking about the levels of awareness – that is important to know and practice but for this goal I am working on something more simple yet profound. To know myself and the spaces that I am in. For that my cat Gizmo is an excellent training partner.

Carry On, Colorado!