Yes, I’ll admit it. I have a nerd-crush on a cat behaviorist.
Jackson Galaxy, sometimes known as the “Cat Daddy” has a show on Animal Planet called My Cat From Hell. The people on his show have out-of-control cats. Cats that bite, scratch, yowl, and chase the dog. Cats that urinate outside the litter box. Cats that seem miserable or vicious and owners who just don’t know what to do anymore. By the end of each episode, however, the owners have learned how their cat thinks, and by understanding cat behavior better—which Jackson calls “cat mojo”—feline and humans (and the occasional dog) can finally live in peace together.
But Jackson Galaxy is more than just a cat behaviorist who educates people on how to interact with their cats. He’s a cat advocate. He comes from the shelters. He knows what it’s like for homeless cats and does what he can to keep cats in homes—in good homes where they are happy.
At the shelter, I learn a lot about cat behavior because I’m around so many cats, and have some amazing volunteers who have worked with shelter cats for years (some, decades). But Jackson Galaxy not only has some really great insight into how the cat mind works, he proactively finds solutions to behavioral issues. Issues such as high arousal behavior, which I had to learn how to deal with the hard way.
When I adopted Smirnoff, he quickly became high arousal/high energy and, much like the people on My Cat From Hell, I ended up with gashes and bites from Smirnoff pouncing, kicking, and sinking his teeth into me. It was Smirnoff who gave me the crash-course in cat mojo, and it wasn’t until after that I began watching Jackson Galaxy help people like me.
On the show, owners are usually considering giving their cat to a shelter, or one person says “it’s me or the cat,” or in a worse-case scenario, there’s the thought of euthanasia. As a shelter volunteer, I know that cats get surrendered and returned for much less than drawing blood. We’ve had cats that come back because their “poop is too smelly” or they are “too vocal” or “too shy” or whatever it is that a person can’t be bothered to work with. So it’s extremely important, whenever possible, to educate people on how to be a responsible cat owner.
So the fact that there is a show that gives real-life examples to remind us cat owners that it is us who need to learn our cat’s language, not the other way around, makes me extremely excited. Jackson Galaxy does some really important work—working with people and their cats and teaching them how to better communicate.
I watch My Cat From Hell and often see glimpses of how Smirnoff used to be. And how I used to be as a first-time, uneducated cat owner. And I’m honestly a little proud of how I was able to figure things out on my own.
But I don’t expect everyone to be able to. Which is why when I see Jackson Galaxy stepping in to save cats from owners who just don’t understand, I get a hardcore nerd-crush going.
After all, it’s not just about adopting cats into new homes. We want them to stay there.
My Cat From Hell airs on Animal Planet Saturdays at 8pm.