I've been hearing for years how hard it is to train cats. The experts are divided between the idea that cats aren't smart enough to train and the idea that they are smart enough but don't much care about pleasing humans. Personally, I've about come to the conclusion that it depends on the cat.
Willoughby is a a good example. After many tries I finally taught him to give somebody the bird. Tell him to do something and up comes that little paw, back towards the offender. I think it's kind of cute.
This morning I went to sit in my favorite chair, and there was Willoughby curled up on the seat. "Willoughby, move over and let me sit down." Up came the paw.
"Move, Cat!" He ostentatiously started licking his paw, as if he were grooming himself, but I knew it was something like when a human pretends to scratch his cheek with the middle finger extended.
I hooked him under the middle, picked him up, sat down, and placed him in my lap. He curled up and lay down, but obviously not too happy about it.
Maccabee came bouncing over about then, full of puppytude, and tried to get Willoughby out of my lap so he could snuggle with me for a while. Up came the paw. I started laughing about then, and Mac slunk off, plotting revenge. Patty looked up from her book and said, "Willoughby, quit giving everybody the bird." Up with the paw again, and I snickered at the look of outrage on Patty's face. Damn, she was mad. "WILLOUGHBY!"
The cat recognized the tone of voice and decided maybe discretion was the better part of valor and jumped down.
All this time Willoughby had this intolerably smug look on his face. With a smirk he jumped up onto the counter and started chowing down on the cat food. As usual he just kind of spread out and hogged the whole area.
Sasha had been in the other room all this time, but I guess she got hungry or something. Anyway, she strolled in and jumped up on the counter and tried to get some of the cat food, but she couldn't get to the dish, because Sir Lunchalot was blocking the way. Sasha is not bashful with Willoughby; she just started pushing her way in. I stood up and headed that way fast. Disaster lurked on that countertop, but I was too late to head it off. Willoughby leaned back with this insufferably insolent look and gave Sasha a big, hairy bird, right in her face. Sasha's ears went back, and she jumped him. I thought she was going to eat that offending paw.
Willoughby walked with a limp for a while, but although the damage to his paw seems to have been minor, I don't think Willoughby will be giving any more birds to Sasha, at least where she can see him.