Making the claim of “having never met a cat he couldn’t help” may be brazen, but Jackson Galaxy—the world’s most famous cat behaviourist—seems to have the goods to back it up. During a chat in a cat cafe with the witty 49-year-old host of reality TV series My Cat from Hell, the cafe’s resident kitties were inexplicably drawn to him. Jackson has 20 years of cat-handling experience under his belt and two published books to his name, but he’s better known for tackling “crazy” cat behaviour on Animal Planet’s hit television programme My Cat from Hell. Looking more the part of a biker dude than a “cat listener”, the heavily tattooed, goateed feline behaviourist travels throughout the U.S., helping desperate cat owners with their furkids’ undesirable behavioural issues.
Has your unconventional appearance ever interfered with your job as a cat behaviourist?
When I made house calls—before anybody knew who I was—people had an expression on their faces that seemed to say: “Don’t kill my family!” I was always fighting against stereotypes, so initially, I took off all my jewellery and rolled my sleeves down, trying to look as “normal” as possible. It felt awful because it wasn’t authentic. But after I gave cat
owners solid information that worked, they looked past the fact that I look like a freak. If you’ve been dealing with your cat peeing on your couch for five years, I’m sure you’d be prepared to listen to even Mr T for advice. (laughs)
All the cats in the cafe seem to be flocking to you. What’s your secret to making cats “love” you?
I’ll be honest—I have treats on me. (laughs) The secret is to give cats the space they need, and to let them come to you instead of fawning over them. Felines want the freedom to explore you on their own terms. I usually just sit there with my hand out, and when they’re ready, they’ll come over and smell my fingers. If “ignoring” doesn’t work, have a pocketful
For the full interview where Jackson shares the three most common cat behavioural issues, how his own furkid landed him in hospital, and more, flip to pg 64 of our Oct-Nov 2015 issue!