The Legend of the Cat Caller

Once upon a full moon wander, a woman plotted revenge on her (now ex) boyfriend. Fuming because she had rented “the shack in the back” – a tiny garage turned loft behind a craftsman home – with her lover for nearly a decade in order to save up money for their future together and come home after a birthday weekend getaway with her sister to discover (via an eviction notice nestled under the brick he used to prop open the window) that he had bought the property and wanted to break up, adding “because cats should be allowed to roam” on a post-it to explain the brick. They had fought viciously before she left about her desire to make sure the new kitten stayed safely indoors until it had all its shots (if not forever). She had faced the shocking aftermath of a cat vs. car incident twice in life already and didn’t think she had the strength to endure another. She was semi grateful his actions had revealed how little respect he had for her and intent on dishing out a bit of karma.

Having serendipitously received an informal lesson on how to clicker train a cat during their mani-pedi session that weekend from a stranger in the adjacent massage chair, she headed directly to the pet store after rounding up her kitten, locking it safely back inside the apartment, and asking her neighbor to keep an eye and ear out for The Man while she was gone. Normally she drove the mile between their apartment and the pet store, but that night she was too hurt and angry to drive. She could hardly see straight and stumbled into the store like a drunk although completely sober. “Clickers,” she grunted at the salesman. “I need a clicker… and the smelliest, most enticing cat treats you have. Lots of them.”

Holding his smile despite her refusal to exchange pleasantries, the salesman silently led her to the cat treats section, grabbing a clicker from the dog aisle as they passed. “Some cats like these dental stick treats as a toy,” he began.

“An indulgence,” she said, still frowning.

“Maybe these Applaws fish filets?”

“Too big,” she said, reaching around him to point at the anti anxiety subsection. “Are those Composure things addictive?”

“No ma’am. Those are all natural.”

“Oh.”

“That’s not a good thing?”

“Well…”

“Say no more. You want something that will really bring all the cats to the yard? Something more enticing than Meowjuana?”

“Yes. Yes I do.” She followed as he returned to the front counter and grabbed a half full mason jar from beneath the register.

“I can give you a free sample of my homemade cat treats. They’re made with crushed lamb jerky, peanut butter, and a teenie tiny amount of my proprietary blend of mildly addictive narcotics. I’m trying to formulate a recipe to engender domesticity in ferile cats.”

A smile crept on the woman’s face. “That sounds right up my alley. How much do you have? I need more than a free sample’s worth.”

“You’ll need to sign here stating you understand this product is still being tested and that you assume all responsibility for any side effects associated with its use,” he said, placing a confidentiality agreement before her and three ziplock storage bags full of treats beside it.

“Don’t worry. I’m not planning to give any cat more than one at a time,” she said as she scribbled her signature and handed him her credit card.

His congenial smile had been replaced with a squished look of perplexity. “How many cats do you have?”

“Just one,” she sassed, grabbing the free tote bag in which he’d put her purchase and heading out the door.

She strolled slowly the whole way home, weaving back and forth towards her neighborhood in a continuous S shaped pattern, looking for cats. She didn’t care if it was a family cat allowed to roam free at all hours or one of the many strays left behind by former tenants (an issue which led most landlords in the area to forbid cats on future leases). If she could see the cat, she approached it while saying, “Here kitty, kitty.” If it didn’t run and hide, she clicked her new clicker and immediately gave the cat one of the special treats. “Good kitty,” she told each one, careful not to get too close to any with low tails or ears, so as not to scare them further. It took her three hours to walk the 30 minutes home. She met 11 cats she’d never seen before.

She went walkabout thirty minutes each night after that, hitting some old and some new territory, feeding the cats of the neighborhood the special Come Hither formula she’d acquired each time. By the third night, the most social cats in the hood began to show up for a treat once they heard her clicker in the distance. By the second week, when the cats craved more and feared less, she was covering twice the territory in half the time, feeding more than three dozen cats.

Eleven days after she’d ended her birthday weekend celebration with a surprise eviction notice, with the help of several friends, the woman moved all her belongings into a new apartment, except three things. She left behind a small digital recorder attached to the high tech portable speaker The Man had bought her for Christmas (then borrowed without asking the next day) playing a recording of her voice saying, “Here kitty,” over and over, interspersed with the sound of the clicker. She set the recording to play next to a small pile of the treats then dropped trails of Come Hither in every direction outside before driving off into the sunset.

An hour later her former neighbor sent a photo of the scene she had left behind, then called so she could listen in. Her ex was wading through a sea of meowing cats to the apartment door, cursing loudly as several tried to climb up the legs of his blue jeans to jump in front of the crowd. The moment he opened the door, the cats jumped on him together and he fell face first into the apartment in shock, becoming the welcome mat for the rest of the feline flock. All trace of the Come Hither treats had been erased before The Man reached the recorder to turn off the hypnotic voice of The Cat Caller. Eventually, the cats stopped showing up nightly to beg for more, but the cat stampede he endured haunted his dreams furever more.

Harry (Harriet) – February 9, 2020

This urban myth was inspired by the clicker training method which the author is using to train her kitten Harry and written in honor of every once blissful relationship that ended badly. Any resemblance to real life events is unintentional.

Note: The cat training method described in this story is merely an exaggeration of the truth. The first step to training a cat is teaching them that the clicker noise means “treat” because they must be rewarded or they will lose interest in training. All you do is click the clicker and promptly give the cat a treat so they know that sound means food is coming. Once the cat knows the clicker sound, you won’t have to give them an actual treat every time you click to keep the cat engaged (though they will still expect rewards).

The author of this website was inspired to begin clicker training with her kitten Harry while reading Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson (which explains why one should consider training a cat) and recommends you click here to watch a video demonstration with Jackson Galaxy on clicker training with cats for more information on how it is done.

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