My Cat From Hell's Jackson Galaxy: People Read Cats Through Dog-Colored Glasses
Jackson Galaxy | Photo Credits: Animal Planet
Cat owners need to become more literate ... about reading cats.
Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy wraps up his fourth season of Animal Planet's My Cat From Hell on Saturday (8/7c) and boils down why people misunderstand their feline friends. "We really try to read them through dog-colored glasses and are trying to look for these very specific types of responses that are very much human-based," Galaxy tells TVGuide.com. "And if we don't see them, we assume that they don't care.
"I think that the biggest misconception about cats is that they're aloof, that they're independent to the point where they don't need others, that they're not as social as any other species," he continues. "I think that's the point where people tend to fall apart a little bit in terms of reading their own cats. If they think that their cat doesn't need them, then they think, 'Well, why would I put the investment into working with them? Why would I emotionally commit to them -- who doesn't need or like me?'"
Fortunately, that's where Galaxy, a self-styled Cat Daddy, comes in. He visits the homes of people with problem cats, reads the situation and then assigns "homework" for the owners. His methods work, and wherever he goes, fans inspired by his successes on-screen assault him with questions to help demystify their cat conundrums. "It's amazing," he says. "I could be at someone's home, I could be at the supermarket, at a doctor's office -- it doesn't matter. It will be, 'Oh I love this show,' and then they'll either ask me a question about their cat or they'll ask me a question about somebody from the show. It's pretty consistent."
Check out more of our interview with the Cat Daddy:
A lot of times on the show, the solution to a cat problem will involve A) play and B) boosting their confidence. Are those the cornerstones of helping a cat?
Jackson Galaxy: When I talk about cat mojo — that's the kind of thing that you're addressing right now — what we're doing is saying, "What are the main building blocks of confidence?" In a cat, it is appealing to their hunter self. That is the raw essence of who they are. So if we appeal to that, then confidence will be built. One of the things I try to get my clients on board with is seeing their animals' needs in a more empathetic way. Basically, I've got to play with my cat. Much like... you take your dog for a walk, not just so they can go out and pee on the street, but so they get social experiences and stimuli that they don't get in your backyard. So, that's what you do with cats. When you play with them, you're actually speaking to a very important part of them. With that, you absolutely build confidence. Teaching people cat mojo, that's my first job. Everything else falls into place from there.
Sometimes these cat behavioral problems are so serious, people consider euthanization. Have you ever encountered a case so heartbreaking or a cat you couldn't help?
Galaxy: I appreciate the fact that you didn't use the term that so many people use: "Have you ever met a cat that you couldn't fix?" A cat's not broken. ... I've pretty much always succeeded in making the cat's life a little better. The first thing is: Is it environmental and chemical and social? We can break it down and speak it to each one of those. That may result in saying, "You know, this is not the right home for this guy." That is one thing that we haven't approached on the show yet. We will. There are times that, if we're looking in the best interests of the animal first and foremost, they hate other cats. And no matter what I do, at the end of the day, the cat is just like, "You know what? I just hate you." You've got to listen to that. Just as if you had a roommate that you couldn't stand, at some point you would move out. We just have to listen to that and help them. In that way, I don't think that I've ever failed the animal because I'm always trying to speak for them.