I am a cat behavior specialist/expert. This information usually provokes a variety of reactions from people. When I am in an animal behavior or welfare environment, I am usually asked a question about why their cat does a certain behavior. When I am outside the animal world, I get all sorts of responses. I’ve actually had people respond to me with “That’s a thing?”. To which I reply “Yes, yes it is.” I can understand this question especially if you don’t and never have owned a cat. I have also had to navigate around responses such as “I hate cats.” This is a statement that breaks my heart every time I hear it. OK, at first is really pisses me off and then I calm down and am left with the sadness of the statement “I hate cats”. Cats are cool! We need to stop comparing them to other animals (usually dogs) and begin to accept and love them for what they are; a bad ass solitary hunter that lives life in the delicate balance of being both a predator and a prey with super cute paws and bellies you want to touch even though they are generally off limits.
So what does a cat behavior specialist/expert do? The simple answer to what I do is study the natural behaviors in cats. By understanding their natural behaviors, it helps me to decode the causes of behavior issues that can happen in our human worlds such as not using the litter box, scratching furniture and not getting along with the other pets in the home. I’m starting my eighth year of working with cats, both owned and homeless and I have come to the conclusion that it is time to set a new standard for cats. I have witnessed far too many cats being relinquished to a shelter for behavior issues that are easily resolved. In my work with owners, I am seeing behavior issues that are easily resolved once the owner has some basic information on natural cat behavior.
What do I mean by set a new standard for cats? Well, it’s like what we have done for dogs in the past 25 years. Most dog owners now know their dog will need a variety of outlets to accommodate their natural behaviors (such as chewing, exercise and social needs) as well as some basic training in order to have a form of communication between the dog and its human owner. What about cat owners? In my experience most cat owners think they need food, water and a litter box and they’re set. Sure, a scratcher and tower would be nice but it would be a luxury for the cat. The truth is cats need a lot more than we think if we want them to live happily and stress-free lives in our human world. There has been a trend the past few years that is helping elevate the status of cats in our lives from rodent hunter to family pet. As a former animal shelter worker, I couldn’t be happier to see an increase in value to cats. As a full time cat behavior specialist/expert and cat owner, I know now is the time to start informing people of what it means to own a cat…or two…or three.
That’s just setting a new standard among the cat lovers. I also want to set a new standard for cats with the general public, cat lover and those unfamiliar with cats. I will need the help of the current cat lovers. I am asking for you to start putting how much you love your cat on social media, tell your friends, family and co-workers, brag about your cat. For more the in-depth reason for this specific call to action, read this wonderful article It’s time to smash the ‘crazy cat lady’ stereotype.
My intention with this blog is to increase knowledge and awareness to the public on cat behaviors and to promote better coexistence between cats and their owners. I plan to educate cat owners on the needs of their cats as well as give them ideas, advice and resources on how to achieve it. There will likely be stories, pictures and videos of adorable cat things along the way just to help illustrate the point and it allows me to shamelessly plug my cats, every cat parents dream! I will continue to call all cat owners to action to help me smash negative cat stereotypes.
I hope you will join me and give these things a try. I promise your cat will not hate you for it.