Most people are familiar with Pavlov's Dog. A million years ago, some old guy with nothing better to do teased dogs with food and non-food and then measured how much they drooled. He then realized that drooling wasn't dependent on the presence of food - the dogs were being conditioned to anticipate the food based on the appearance of the scientists. It's the whole conditioned stimulus and response thing and it somehow resulted in dogs drooling whenever they heard a metronome.
Today I am going to tell you about Pavlov's Cat.
His name is Rusty and his conditioned stimulus is the sound of our security system chiming to indicate that it is being turned on or off. And he doesn't drool - he goes running for the door that leads to the screened porch. I believe it has reached the point of being a conditioned response; I'm not even sure he realizes he's doing it.
We didn't train him this way on purpose. We all know that you can't deliberately train a cat to do anything. But most mornings, Joe wakes up, goes downstairs, turns off the alarm and lets Rusty out on the screened porch as long as it's not too cold. We haven't had much of a winter this year but it's been too cold to leave that door open or even cracked most days. And this leaves a certain Rusty-kitty literally (and you can trust me on "literally" because it's one of my pet peeves when people use it incorrectly) SCREAMING for his porch.
Joe's more generous with opening the porch door than I am. This girl gets cold too easily! So with Joe gone, Rusty is experiencing extreme withdrawls.
But it hasn't changed his response. Any time I change the alarm status, I can count on hearing "DING DING DING" followed by "Ka-THUMP (kitty jumps off bed) badump badump badump (kitty runs for the door)." If only I could condition him to something useful. Like fetch me a coffee. Or wash the dishes. I'd put up with a little cold air for that!