When I showed him the die, he didn’t seem to recognize it, but then I did the hand signs I used to summon him for a game.
Two fingers held up for Scissors, hand held out for Paper, and then a fist for Rock, which touched my heart.
When he was a kitten, this would bring him running. He perked right up, remembering, and all the cats came over and played along with him.
I sold a few of these Konfuse-a-Kat toys in the early days of the blog, and donated some to various shelters, who reported they were useful with socializing feral cats. But I can no longer get the different dice, so I discontinued selling it. Fortunately, the best dice are still available, and the cats still love playing it.
Rolling the die gets their attention. I read aloud the word that comes up, and make the correct gesture. Then, I use that gesture to pet them.
Rock is the Fist of Friendship, rolled under their chin and chest. Paper is the classic, widespread, petting hand. And Scissors is for scritches, where they like it best.
As a kitten, RJ was thrilled when good things happened, like his food bowl getting filled or the arrival of a new toy. But he didn’t know how to ask for food, or play, or anything else. He would just get anxious and race around, leaving us to guess at what he wanted.
He was six months old when he really started to thrive, physically, yet it was obvious his brain was still in the six week old stage of understanding. It was crucial that I teach him cause and effect. It would be frustrating for all of us if he carried the clueless ways of kittens into adulthood.
By creating a “random petting generator” with this die, I let him focus on an action I was making, and connect the word with the gesture, and then follow how all of this went together. I still remember the wonderment that spread across his face the first time he recognized my gestures to “come play the game.” He was thrilled at the thought of our play with the die… even though he hadn’t seen it yet.
This was the first step to RJ being able to learn concepts.
The brighter and more affectionate our cat, the less they might be excited about Rock Paper Scissors. We talk to them all the time! We pet them all the time!
But for shy, feral, inadequately socialized cats, this can be a useful tool to intrigue them, get a dialogue started, and eventually, create a petting structure they can insert themselves into. Even if the cat is not coming out from under the bed, we can play the game with other cats, or even with ourselves while pretending the shy cat is also playing.
It can be very difficult to convince a paranoid cat that we want to love them when they don’t even have that concept in their minds yet.
Rock Paper Scissors for Cats is one way of making that possible.
Play the game! Get your dice at this link.
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There’s more ways to care for our cat with The Way of Cats than the article you are reading now. See all of my posts on CAT CARE.