Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cat on the keyboard

A friend sent me a link today to PawSense, a software product for detecting a cat on your keyboard and shooing it away before it can do any damage.

PawSense is a digital variant of the battery-powered Cat Scram. The Cat Scram emits a beam that, if the cat walks through it, triggers a high-pitched noise humans can't hear but which is unpleasant to cats.

Both devices would probably work well with young kittens that roam around climbing onto anything. But I'm dubious of their efficacy with older cats. Cats aren't on your keyboard for entertainment. They're on your keyboard because they want your attention.

If a cat walks on the keyboard to get your attention, and you give it negative reinforcement, the ignored or rejected cat will simply move over one inch to the next item on your desk and go to work there. We have one cat that removes pushpins from the bulletin board, another that pats the screens with its paws, and a third one that shoves mugs of tea, staplers, pens and anything else movable onto the floor. It has no problem moving a full mug of tea across the desk and over the edge.

Zorg takes a very hard line with cats on his desk, but does that help? Not really. In his case, the cats cannily leave the room and sit (out of squirt gun range) in the hall, yowling until the paint peels. Then Zorg puts on earphones and turns up the volume. Now, who is really winning?

(Note: And PawSense and Cat Scram don't work with deaf cats like Sheba.)

As an amateur cat psychologist, I recommend a long-range, big-picture approach. If I had at cat on my keyboard, I'd stop everything I was doing, figure out what the cat wanted, give it the food, open the door, play "Mousie," or whatever it took for five minutes, and then go back to work. If you treat your cats this way, they won't be driven to get on your keyboard or destroy your desk to get your attention. Mine just sit by my chair and tap my leg politely with one paw.

Doesn't this just make you want to run over to PAWS and pick up a few cats?

1 comment:

  1. The answer is, Zorg is winning.

    The cats don't get on my keyboard because I have consistently dissuaded them from it. Once in a while, Kaylee looks at the bulletin board with that wild-eyed look she gets when she's contemplating push pins, but she doesn't actually go for them any longer.

    Zoe is the only one who wails in the hall - and she wants to be fed or let out, which solves the problem.

    So I'd say that Zorg has won the battle of cats on the keyboard, at least in his office!

    -- thezorg --