Unconventional cat trainer Jackson Galaxy has taken the animal world by storm – upending the “cat person” stereotype and saving distressed felines (and their owners) on Animal Planet’s hit show “My Cat from Hell”, which just entered its fourth season.
And he’s coming to Cayman on Thursday, 16 May for a special signing and talk at Books & Books.
Galaxy’s memoir “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me about Life, Love and Coming Clean”, is now in paperback featuring a new afterword. In this book, Galaxy traces his journey from down-and-out rock musician with multiple addictions to animal shelter worker to gifted cat trainer. Along the way, he charts his trials with the original cat from hell, Benny, a supposedly unbondable cat bearing physical and emotional wounds as raw as Galaxy’s own.
Benny tests Galaxy’s skills at every turn, challenging and teaching him invaluable lessons not only about how to be better attuned to cat behaviour but how to live in the moment (without drugs or crutches), eschew complacency, and accept that you don’t always have control.
Jackson Galaxy has been called everything from a cat trainer to a cat shrink. Drawing on his years of experience in animal shelters and as a consultant, his unique approach to cat care offers people a deeper understanding of why their cats act out.
Weekender grabbed the dude for a few quickfire questions, cause, y’know. It’s what we do, man.
When did you first realise you could speak cat?
Within the first week of working at an animal shelter in 1992 – the cats were attracted to me like I had tuna in my pocket. Knowing that cats were being euthanised at a rapid pace for simple behavioural reasons, I took this gift from the cats and turned it around in order to help them.
What has been your most tricky case?
In the book, I recount my first consult with a cat named Smokey, who about ripped my face off the first time I met him. The tricky part was re-approaching him in a grounded way, which believe me, is pretty hard when you’re bleeding all over the floor.
What is it about cats that people connect with so strongly?
When you think about it, it’s probably the same thing that repels non-cat people. Which is their mysterious nature. Because cats are so “other” than humans, they are also subject to projections, meaning we assign emotions to cats based on our experience. So, they could be completely neutral, but we think they are happy and smiling.
The downside to that, they could be completely neutral and someone that doesn’t like cats looks at them and sees an animal that hates them. So it’s a mixed blessing.
Do you play much music these days?
Yes, I do. Anytime I have a moment, my guitar is in my hand. It’s the only way I know how to meditate.
What are the three key tips for any cat owner?
My teaching system is based on the concept of Catmojo, or what cats need on a genetic level to thrive.
Hunting: play = prey, so don’t forget to play with your cat as if they were hunting something. It will satisfy them on a level that nothing else will.
Nutrition: As hunters, cats are carnivores. Feed them meat and feed them set meals. Never free feed.
Compromise: Put litter boxes where your cat needs them, not where you want them. Please don’t come calling me if your cat is peeing in your bedroom and the litter box is behind the washing machine.
What are you looking forward to most about Cayman?
What’s there not to look forward to?
Jackson Galaxy is at Books & Books, Camana Bay on Thursday, 16 May, at 7pm. Entrance is free.