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A Clicker Cat and Rat Tale

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Virginia Broitman and Sherri Lippman, top clicker trainers and producers of the popular Bow Wow series of clicker training videos, sent us these provocative photos. Hmm. How did you manage this, ladies? Sherri answers:

In the interest of being as abnormal as possible, Virginia and I decided to introduce my kitten, Birch, and her rat, Jicama, to one another.


I found Birch outside at about 5 to 6 weeks old (a feral kitten), and he was clicker trained from day one. At the time of the photographs, Birch was about 3 months old.

For the first introduction, Virginia held Jicama protectively in both hands so that it would be impossible for Birch to hurt him. Birch quickly showed us, however, that he had no predatory interest in the rat. In fact, he was rather intimidated by the rat. Jicama, on the other hand, catnrat2.jpg thought Birch was a wonderful, warm, and furry new friend, and never showed any signs of concern about having a potential predator within inches. (His female rat roommates, however, were instantly terrified just by the smell of the cat, and wanted no part of Birch.)

During the first four visits, Birch tried to lay low and pretend Jicama did not even exist. Because he was uneasy, I fed him many tasty treats to help him feel more relaxed around the rat. Thankfully, Birch loves food better than anything else in the world, so he gradually became more accustomed to the rat's presence and odd behavior. Throughout these visits, Jicama did his best to make Birch feel at home. He groomed his tail and ears, and he even crawled up on Birch's back for a cozy nap. catnrat3.jpgBy the fifth visit, we knew Birch was finally feeling at ease when he began looking at Jicama's tail and showing some interest in this marvelous little "cat toy."

Due to our busy schedules, we weren't able to continue having frequent visits between the two animals. We decided, for the rat's safety, not to continue these interactions, but we are happy to have some photos of both of them together.

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