Acclaimed behaviourist Jackson Galaxy, alias ‘The Cat Daddy’, travels through America and the rest of the world to help families with their cat problems in Animal Planet’s ‘My Cat from Hell’. We had the chance to chat with him during his Australian visit, which was part of his Asian tour. We spoke about his job, his foundation and the many challenges cats face.
SR: Hi Jackson! Great to have you here, thanks for your time. Let’s start with some basics: How did you become a cat behaviour specialist?
JG: Well, I got a job in a shelter in ‘93 and worked there for more than 10 years. Cats grabbed my attention straight away and it became my mission to stop them being killed. In the shelter we always focused on adoption and I learned a lot over the years.
SR: Do you remember any particular case of ‘My Cat from Hell’ that moved you especially, either positively or negatively?
JG: We have had more than 120 cases on “My Cat from Hell’ and all of them are special as I throw myself into each relationship. Every case is important and many of them are really emotional as you always put all your feelings into it and you do everything possible to help the family.
SR: How would you define your mission with cats, and can you please tell us a little bit about the Jackson Galaxy Foundation?
JG: The shelter is where my heart is. Our mission is finding the right owner for the right cat. We try to find new angles to deal with problems every day. Nowadays we are doing so much better than 20 years ago. There is a lot of knowledge around, but there is always space for improvement.
The first year we had major plans. Shelter rescue is something that needs to be done and we have to be able to adapt with the situation’s needs in many countries
SR: Trying to find owners for adult cats must be very challenging, as people always choose kittens, right?
JG: Having mostly adults in a shelter is a big challenge as people always want to adopt kittens, and not 4-5-month-old kittens – just the ones that are a few weeks and practically babies. People need to understand that if they want to adopt a kitten, they need time to devote to the kitten. It’s like having a baby: they need to learn everything, including toilet training.
We always try to teach people that it is better to adopt an adult as they have set routines and personalities, and we try to match them with their family needs. It’s always an issue of cats versus families and what suits them better; but most of the time, the better solution for the shelter is to adopt out existing cats and not new kittens.
SR: You sell Spirit Essences (flower essences for animals sold on his website). Based on your experience, why are animals more receptive to this type of treatment?
JG: Energetic treatments are good for animals because there is no pre-conception or excuse-making regarding the product as happens with people. Animals just take it, and it is true energy that is good for them as it helps to stimulate their energy balance.
Humans will hopefully take the hint and use whatever they find works for them. We have to stop overthinking things and just try things to see if they’re a good option. I mean, the animals just take this and it works wonderfully.
SR: Seeing your program, one realises that the big problem is not the cat itself, but their owner or caregiver. What basic advice would you give to a person planning to adopt a cat for the first time?
JR Well they need to learn that cats are not dogs! It seems obvious, but people don’t realise that they behave completely differently, and they need to learn about it. There is plenty of information on my YouTube channel, in my books and on the TV show. It’s very simple really: you must have a minimum of cat knowledge before adopting a cat and never expect them to behave as a dog.
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SR: What has been the biggest challenge during all his years working on cat behaviour?
JG: People! People are always the biggest challenge. There is always the excuse making and the unrealistic projections on cats and the resistance to learn. If you want to change a bad behaviour, you have to step away from the emotion and frustration of the problem and focus on simple solutions instead. Cats need to be understood. They won’t act bad on purpose.
SR: ‘My Cat from Hell’ is shown worldwide. What does it mean to you to be able to send this information out to so many places?
JG: It’s beyond amazing! We have been in so many countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, the US, and now, Australia – and, you know, cats are cats in every country. The experience is invigorating and I’m happy to share my experience everywhere.
SR: And to finish…What’s new in the 7th season of ‘My Cat From Hell’?
JG: The 7th season is switching it up! Animal Planet have helped us big this time as we are going outside people’s homes. We talk a lot about foster care and adoptions and we have a new section called ‘My Cat from Heaven’ , where people tell us what their cats have done for them. It’s very emotional and lots of feelings are involved. In this season, we will reboot the experience and make it better.
My Cat From Hell
Australian Television Premiere
Saturday & Sundays from 2 July at 6.30pm AEST
Exclusive to Animal Planet