Those of us with cats will know just how annoying it can be when our wandering pets return home and want to be let in. Most of them simply yowl outside until their human comes and obeys their orders. However, one kitty has figured out a more polite way to alert their owner.
For some reason, animal lovers often enjoy boasting about their pet’s intelligence. Those with dogs might brag about the latest trick that their four-legged friend has learned, while cat owners might point to their feline’s independence as a marker of their cleverness.
In reality, both animals are driven by different motives, making their so-called intelligence hard to compare. For example, being pack animals makes dogs eager to please the leader of their gang – usually their owner. On the other hand, a cat’s sole purpose is to survive, meaning they’re unlikely to follow commands.
However, while cats might not be as easy to train as their canine counterparts, that’s not to say that they can’t pick up a trick or two. In fact, according to animal expert Clifford Brooks, cats can learn a number of habits – and some of them are rather practical.
For instance, according to Brooks’ book Toilet Train Your Cat, Plain and Simple, it’s possible to get your pet to use the bathroom rather than their litter tray. The trick is to get your cat used to perching on the toilet by starting with a special tray that covers the bowl. Eventually you can remove the tray meaning you animal’s waste falls straight into the potty.
And toilet training isn’t the only civilized trick that felines can pick up, as cat owner Patrick Dougherty has discovered. That’s because his pet puss Bruno has figured out a polite way of telling his owner that he wants to come back inside.
Dougherty revealed the impressive behavior in a video posted to his YouTube channel in 2013. The footage begins with ginger tom Bruno waiting patiently by a glass-paneled door, presumably for his owner to let him inside.
As he waits, Bruno paws mournfully at the glass, seemingly helpless to fulfil his quest to enter the house. However, the cat is not as powerless as he appears. Because, after a few moments he turns to his right and does something incredible.
Using his head and neck, Bruno gently nudges a doorbell, causing it to chime. He repeats the process before sitting back down to await the emergence of Dougherty. However, when his owner doesn’t respond, the cat proceeds to ring the bell over and over again.
After a few more anxious moments – and one more bell ring – Dougherty finally lets Bruno in. And rather than show gratitude to his owner, the cat simply jumps off his perch and slinks past Dougherty straight into the comfort of the house, without so much as a second glance.
In the caption accompanying the video, Dougherty wrote, “Our cat Bruno lets us know he wants in by ringing the doorbell. He only does it when he knows we’re awake and not in bed, so the bell never goes off at four in the morning. Smart cat.”
And his owner wasn’t the only one impressed with Bruno’s apparent smartness. After posting the video of his cat’s talents on YouTube, in fact, Dougherty has clocked up more than three million views and over two thousand likes.
The footage has also attracted a number of comments from amazed viewers. “This is really cool! That cat is really smart. I’d keep a close watch on that cat,” wrote one YouTube user. Meanwhile, another added, “Wow, so smart… knows how to get in!”
Elsewhere, though, some viewers worried that teaching a cat how to use a buzzer was not such a good idea. “When I was a kid, we had a cat that would ring the doorbell at five a.m. every day to come back in,” one recalled.
Meanwhile, other users relayed stories of the unusual habits that their pets had picked up. “He probably did it accidentally once and learned quickly that it got a result,” wrote one viewer. “I had a cat that twice touched a telephone right before it started ringing… he went around touching the phone for several weeks afterward, hoping for the same result.”
But given the effectiveness of Bruno’s trick, people mainly wanted to know if they could coach their pets to do the same. “I wonder if an adult cat can still learn new tricks like this,” one user mused. “It would be great to have this for when [my cat] can go outside. How did you train your cat to ring it?”
According to some experts, it is possible to teach an old cat new tricks. However, introducing new behaviors to your cat will take a lot of patience and, more importantly, food. Unlike dogs, cats will not accept rewards in the form of a pat on the head – but a tasty treat should help to achieve the desired result.
First, ensure that your doorbell is somewhere your cat can reach it. Then, encourage your pet to tap the bell with their paw, perhaps by getting them to mimic your own actions. Once they hit the bell, reward them with a treat.
After that, you’ll have to repeat the process over and over again, until your cat associates ringing the bell with being rewarded. Eventually, they should realize that there’s something in it for them, namely being let indoors. And if that’s the case, they’ll be calling on you in no time.
But be warned – once you’ve taught your cat to ring, they might abuse their power. As one person pointed out beneath Dougherty’s video of Bruno, “Unfortunately, not all doorbell-ringing-cat-owners are this lucky.”