How to Train Staffers - The Ragdoll Perspective
by max kazen
Notoriously limp and lovable, Ragdolls are exactly that...rag (deliciously soft, well-worn comfortable) and... well...dolls! They are a large, docile cats. They are sweet-faced, muscular and elegant. They have a medium-long, non-matting coat with a soft texture. They are generally pointed in color (like the Himalayan or Siamese) -- in seal point, blue point, chocolate point, etc., with or without white markings. They are non-aggressive in nature, and therefore much better suited to being an "indoor only" cat.
Ragdolls like to share their homes with human "staffers" who will spend time with them, and ensure their need for "service" and "attention" are well met.
Princess and Hope...Ragdolls who share this author's home...wanted to let you in on a few of their secrets on how to select...and train... your human staff. Princess is taking the lead in discussing what's required:
"If you don't currently have staffing, and are in the selection process, we recommend, at a minimum, the following:
A) Jump in the lap of your prospect -- decisively! If they jump up immediately and dump you...they're out. If they go "Oh, isn't that sweet", they've passed the first test.
B) Knead their thigh. If they slap your paw -- forget it! If they gently remove your claws, or provide an alternative, they've passed the second test. If you've lost your front claws, lick their hand or arm. If they bat you away -- forget it.
C) Make sure you deposit cat hair everywhere you can. Do your best to reach your potential staffer's face. It's easy to see at this point whether this prospect has potential. If they like the attention, and gently remove the cat hair instead of dumping you immediately...you've got a Staffer with potential.
Now, if the prospect says to your agent, "I'll take that one" and doesn't pass any or most of the aforementioned screens, yowl at the top of your lungs....and run for the hills! Remember...Ragdolls are Royalty...and not to be treated as anything less by ANY Staffer!
Now, for our training tips, we recommend the following:
1) The first thing is learning how to wake them up: We generally start at around 3 AM in the morning. It's our usual time to start the day rolling. First thing in our job description is to make sure Mom (Staffer #1) gets up to use the restroom. Most of the time, her bladder gives us a hand. She loves that last bedtime cup of tea...that she really should skip!
But... occasionally, she forgets, and sleeps past 3 AM. That means one...or both of us...will need to walk across her head several times, and meow. We start soft...and if that's not working, we "amp up." If necessary, we stick our noses under the blanket and then crawl to her feet to nibble a toe gently...or not. If that's not working, we're not above flopping directly on her face, or chewing on her hair. Jumping up and down from the bed, talking loudly, chasing each other...doing what it takes.
Whatever it takes, we're pretty darn good at getting that 3 AM Ragdoll Prance started. After all, this is when we get our first belly rub of the day, and it's important how we start our day. We're generally not really interested in eating this early, just want to make sure Mom gives us that first belly rub of assurance that all is Right in Ragdoll Kingdom.
Then, we're generally OK until 6'ish, and have been known to leave our Staffers alone until as late as 6:30 AM. After that, though, Staffers are expected to be up and ready to start the day's duties.
2) The second thing is teaching them what you like to eat: First thing, of course, is our "treat." I (that would be me...the Princess) will only drink the juice from the cat food packet. I won't eat the food from the packet. Much too ordinary, boring and mundane for a Royal Ragdoll. And, thank you very much, I want it mixed with just a touch of fresh Norwegian fish cod liver oil. Perfect seasoning for the Royal Ragdoll.
Hope, my younger sister, has (in my superior opinion) more "pedestrian" tastes, settling for a particular oceanfish canned variety in gravy for her treat. To her credit, though, she has discriminated several times quite thoroughly in turning down cheaper cat food pates clearly not suitable for the Ragdoll Royalty.
Whatever your choice of gourmet treat, just insure your Staffers are clear about what needs to be served...and when!
Of course, having our regular "best selection" of dry cat food is equally important. We like a premium cat food, and are happy to help with the selection. We tend toward a somewhat sensitive digestive system, so finding the right food can be important...and may, in certain circumstances, even require veterinary assistance. But not to worry, with a little help, caring human staffers can find what's exactly right for your digestive needs.
3) The third thing is, of course, training them on how and when you want to be played with:
Once treats are out of the way, if both our Staffers are home and available, they are called upon throughout the day...to play...to visit...to ensure our special dry food dishes and water dishes are always full. And, of course, to run to the herb garden around dinnertime and clip a bit a fresh catnip for us to sniff, fondle and toss into the air. On occasion, we even allow our Staffers to get a glimpse of our "Inner Wild Cat" after a bit o'the Nip. After breaking several items that were apparently Staffer Treasures in a "CatNip Free-for-All Frenzy" several months ago, though, they seem not as interested in exploring more of our "Inner Wild Cat."
...sometimes Staffers just don't appreciate our "Wild Side."
In between cat naps, Hope and I check the toys throughout the house, and move them about, drop them at a Staffer's feet if it's time to play, and we make sure one of the Staffers checks our restroom facilities regularly. Cleanliness is Critical! They need to understand that.
By and large, our Staffers are fairly well suited for Ragdoll Royalty. Since Staffer #1 is home-officed as a Writer and Value Creator, we have "nearly-instant" staff. And Staffer #2 is obviously so smitten with our sweetness, playfulness, and totally endearing manner to him, we have simply to arch a tail, or plop down, or roll over in front of him to have his full and undivided attention. (... this....dubious Readers...was NOT even someone who particularly liked "cats" before we came along).
All in all, we believe we chose well.
4) Last, and definitely not least, is keeping it a secret that YOU are always in command: We let the Staffers believe...occasionally...that they are in charge. As long as they continue to meet all of the Ragdoll Royalty requirements, I don't think there's any harm in a little innocent self-delusion, do you?"