Wednesday, July 14, 2010

B. F. Skinner, Eat Your Heart Out.

Several times in the past couple of weeks, Vir has woken me up in the middle of my sleep period, I've gotten up and tossed him out of the bedroom, and he has then failed to scratch at the door. I've tried hard for ages to achieve that result by never, ever getting up and opening the door while he's scratching at it, even if I actually want to get out of bed at that point, a strategy that has far too often resulted in me dozing off again and oversleeping. Cats being the stubborn things they are, though, I didn't really expect this to work. Despite the diligent appliance of principles I learned in Psych 101, I've never successfully extinguished a behavior in a cat before! I feel all science-y and proud. Even if tossing him out this morning didn't actually lead to me getting any more sleep.

Of course, it could just be that it's simply too damned hot right now for him to want to bother...


  1. Somewhere in the infinite number of alternative universes there are several where Skinner and Pavlov used cats instead of Rats and Dogs. I think their notes go something like this:

    Day 202: No change in subject after bells, whistles, electric shocks or poking. Assistants are running out of bactine for cuts. I am giving up science and returning to be a beet farmer.

  2. LOL! Oh, yes, so very true.

    Although it is ridiculously easy to condition a cat to do things you don't want it to do. I once had a cat who wouldn't stop jumping up on the kitchen counters (and often eating the food thereon). I figured maybe I could at least teach him to jump down on command. Instead, what he learned was to jump up and wait expectantly for the "down" command so that he could get a treat. Over and over and over. :)