There’s a reason the expression “like herding cats” refers to a task that’s extremely difficult.
Cats are fairly notorious for their independence and unwillingness to respond to commands.
So cat owners often employ enticements to get their feline friends to do what they want. Treats are a common bribe.
But is there an implied promise involved in this technique?
Are treats a trick or a transaction?
One 23-year-old cat owner pondered that problem. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
Redditor Beginning-Ad-3472 asked:
“AITA for ‘lying to my cat’?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“Oh god this is stupid but I was told to ask others for their opinion so here I am.”
“My girlfriend (19) claims I suck for lying to my cat (2-year-old male). I don’t like my cat roaming around the kitchen when I’m not there just because he might get his less-than-average-intelligence paws on something he shouldn’t.”
“So I gotta get him out of there when I leave. On a small shelf next to the door I keep a tiny bag of kitty treats and sometimes when he refuses to come when I call his name, I shake the little bag to get him out and close the door behind him.”
“Enter the problem.”
“I don’t actually give him a treat every time I do this. Sometimes I just pick him up and give him a big ol’ smooch.”
“Sometimes he gets a treat.”
“My girlfriend thinks this counts and being mean to my cat because he might be expecting a sweet little treat, and that disappointing him is cruel.”
“This isn’t a serious fight.”
“Just something that sometimes comes up when I don’t give him treats. It isn’t creating problems between us, but this time she said ‘ask literally anyone else, see if they think you’re being fair’ so we’ll be reading the responses together.”
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors—or their cats—decided the OP was the a**hole.
“It’s called Operant Conditioning using intermittent reinforcement, and it’s the most effective way to change behavior and make it persistent.”
“I personally think it sucks especially since that’s what social media is doing to us to keep us addicted to it. I always valued a trusting relationship with my cats and I even let them know ahead of time whenever they had to go to the vet.” ~ Psalm1267
“It’s amazing how smart they can be… when they WANT to be, lol.” ~ agentxthirteen
“I’m convinced that unlike training dogs, cats train us 😃.” ~ IAlsoLikePlutonium
“I mean cats domesticated themselves… training some dumb humans sounds a lot easier in comparison 🤣” ~ HPCReader3
“Establishing a behavior with my cats then falling back to intermittent rewards is really effective for that one behavior. But you’re teaching them to act like zombies at slot machines in Vegas and they’ll keep freaking out and sometimes doing undesirable things to try and get the reward in my real life experience.”
“Like destroying sh*t to get to the treat, trying to do the behavior over and over to get the reward. Other stuff that sucks in real life when you’re not concerned about just teaching one single behavior and instead care about quality of life and relationship.”
“I like to use reliability and routine. They know what to expect, I know what to expect.”
“They don’t act so much like crack addicts chasing a high. They just know what to expect and trust me.”
“Even if it’s a routine they’re not fond of they know how it will go and when it will be done. It tends to make for chill relaxed household members.”
“For sh*ts and giggles though. There are always personality quirks.”
“We had to stop even acknowledging one cat when he would do a trick unasked because it was being dangerous. You have to refuse to even look at him until he stops and then praise him when he does NOT do tricks.”
“He would start circling people, standing, spinning in circles, then trying to weave between legs. Hop up and down to his mark.”
“And then bite people in frustration for not getting reward for doing the behavior when unasked.” ~ Vertigote
“Your cat.” ~ FloppyEaredDog
“My cat says YTA.” ~ el_deedee
“YTA give ur furbaby a treat. Now I must go spoil my 2 boys with catnip and treats.” ~ dayofthedead333
“YTA… as the staff for two cats, I would wake up to barf in my shoes or something if I pulled that crap.”
“Also, soon enough the cat will catch on to your antics.” ~ jojokangaroo1969
“I asked my 3 cats.”
“Cat A: YTA Cat B: YTA Cat C: YTA with a growl.”
“I had to call in the professionals for this one. Cats have spoken, this is the way.” ~ darthsmuse
You know your cat can have you killed, right? He knows people.” ~ VenerableCrumbs
“YTA. How dare you not be a slave to your cat?”
“Everything you need to do is for the cat. Your life should be dedicated to your cat.” ~ Slach31
While bribery is a normal part of cat ownership, Redditors decided the OP entered a social contract with her furry feline friend when she shook the treat bag.
Give the cat a treat, OP. No kitty wants people kisses.