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My wife and I are in disagreement.
She says she has trained our cat to sit on command.
I say the cat has trained her to dole out treats.
Unfortunately, like a good conspiracy theory, nothing can be definitively proved.
“Sit!” she commands standing above our cat holding a small treat in her hand. The treat has catnip in it, so technically she is dispensing drugs. And like an addict, the cat has a very real physiological interest in obtaining the treat.
The cat looks up eagerly at my wife’s outstretched hand and sits with its tail twitching. She drops the treat and the cat scarfs it up like some catnip street junkie.
“See?” says my wife.
“That doesn’t prove anything,” I reply indignantly. “You are holding your hand out over its head. The cat always sits when it looks up.”
She walks to the far side of the kitchen and holds out another treat. “Sit!” she commands. The cat sees her from across the room, meanders purposely over to her feet beneath her outstretched hand, looks up in anticipation, and sits.
“See?” says my wife.
I stand over the cat and hold out an empty hand. I say nothing. The cat looks up and sits.
“See?” I say righteously, “the cat always sits when it is looking up.”
My wife is upset at my deceptiveness. “You don’t have a treat!” she says sourly. “He is expecting a treat, he sits as I have trained him, and now you don’t even give him a treat. That is terrible.”
She grabs the bag and fishes out another treat. The cat looks up and sits before she can even give him a command.
“See?” she says again.
I try to reason logically with her. I tell her it is ridiculous to think that she can train our cat, any cat, to sit on command. She points to the continued evidence that he sits whenever the promise of a treat is held over his head. She holds out a treat again and commands the cat to sit.
The cat looks up and sits.
We don’t argue that much, but occasionally we just don’t see things the same way. Things that should be black and white we see as red or blue and we enter into a political debate in which there are never any elections.
Once we argued over the proper way to load the dishwasher. I still think the spoons and forks should be facing up. But I have learned over the years to concede a lot of these disputes—it makes for a much better marriage.
However, on rare occasion, when I am truly convinced that I am right, I firmly stand my ground.
“You are delusional,” I tell her shaking my head in disbelief. “You can’t train a cat.”
To prove it I lie down on the floor so I am eye level with the furry thing. I hold a treat between my fingers inches from the floor. The cat comes over to snatch it away but I grasp it firmly.
“Sit!” I command firmly to the cat. It does not sit. “Sit!” I command still more loudly to the cat. The cat does not sit. Instead, it sticks out its paw trying to dislodge the treat from my fingers and meows forlornly.
“See?” I say. “The cat only sits because it is looking up.”
She walks over to the cat and softly calls its name. “Sit.” she says gently. The cat looks up and sits. She bends down to the floor where I am lying and swipes the treat from my hand. Then she gives it to the cat who excitedly consumes the tasty morsel.
“Good boy!” she says.
I am not sure if she is referring to me or the cat.
She pets the contented animal and looks down at me. I am still lying on the floor. I sit up to see her better. The cat looks up too, sitting.
“You need to speak to him gently,” she explains patiently to me. “He doesn’t respond to bullying.”
“He doesn’t respond to commands either,” I reply sarcastically.
“Sit.” I say pointedly to the cat. “Sit. Sit. Sit.” The cat looks at me with big quizzical cat eyes. Maybe because the cat is already sitting.
“Why don’t you just get up off the floor and admit that I am right,” she says.
“Because you are not right,” I say getting up from the floor.
“Sit!” she says.
The cat, now satisfied after consuming dozens of treats, wanders out of the room to take a nap.
“See?” I say excitedly as I plop down on the couch in triumph.
My wife looks me in the eye and smiles, handing me a cat treat.
I wasn’t talking to the cat, she says.
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