Conscious Cat

May 20, 2011 62 Comments

Up close and Purrsonal with Jackson Galaxy, Star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell”

Posted by Ingrid

If you haven’t watched Animal Planet’s new show “My Cat from Hell,” you don’t know what you’re missing. Jackson Galaxy, the star of the show, knows cats like no other. Cat behaviorist by day, musician by night, bald, bearded and covered in cat tattoos, he’s anything but your typical cat guy.

I had the opportunity to chat with Jackson yesterday while he was in between media appearances (since the launch of the show, Jackson has appeared on Access Hollywood, Fox and Friends, and taped a segment for The Daily Show, among others). It only took a few minutes of talking to him to realize that appearances are, indeed, deceiving: underneath the hip surface lies a sensitive, caring guy who genuinely loves cats.

Jackson is a cat behaviorist who has been called anything from a cat whisperer to a cat shrink to a cat trainer. He actually prefers to be called a “cat listener.” He doesn’t like the term cat whisperer, because, he says “it conotates exclusivity. It says I can do something you can’t.” His goal is to make everyone believe that they can do what he does. According to Jackson, what it really comes down to is a case of “slowing your head down long enough to listen to cats.”

Jackson’s mission is to reduce the number of cats in shelters. Based on Jackson’s experience, most behavior problems in shelter cats are not that tough to solve. He’s found that frequently, an hour spent with the cat and her human guardians can take care of the problem and prevent the cat from being returned to the shelter.

Jackson worked in shelters for many years, and later partnered with Dr. Jean Hofve, a holistic veterinarian. They called their business Big Little Cat, honoring domestic cats’ wild origins, and offered in-home mind body consults.

Jackson solves common and not so common behavior problems. He works with cats either during in-home consultations (in the Los Angeles area) or remotely. Consultations involve taking a detailed history, meeting the cat and her family, and watching the cat  interact with everyone and everything in her territory. For remote consultations, Jackson requests that the client provide a video showing the cat’s home, feeding station, and litter box locations. He says this way, he can pick up details that a client might not even think to provide by just filling out an intake form, no matter how detailed the questions may be.

He employs a variety of techniques, some traditional, some holistic, and some, according to Jackson “I’ve been told are completely off the wall.” His approach is all about giving the human guardians a deeper understanding of why cats act the way they do. “I always come down on the side of the cat,” says Jackson. Most feline behavior problems have very little to do with the cat, and everything to do with the fact that as humans, we ask cats to co-exist with us in environments that don’t always support their natural instincts.

“My Cat from Hell” features what most cat owners would consider hard core behavior issues. From spastic cats that threaten to break up relationships to aggressive felines that leave their owners bruised and bloody, these cats are not your average housecats. Each episode features two cases, showing the problem, Jackson’s initial visit with the cat and her guardians, and a follow up visit two weeks later. I asked Jackson whether it was really true that these cases are resolved in what seems like such a short period of time, or whether there was some artistic license to adapt what he does to fit the format of an hour long show. “The improvements really happened that fast,” said Jackson. He credits this to the fact that the cats’ guardians really did the homework he recommended after the initial session. Jackson has no doubt that being on TV provided added incentive for the cats’ guardians: “when you know you’re going to be on TV, you don’t want to look stupid!” In his real life cases, he usually tells clients that improvements may take 4-6 weeks, but much of that timeframe depends on how much the human guardians are willing to follow his recommendations.

Jackson also owns Spirit Esssences, a line of flower essences he developed with holistic veterinarian Dr. Jean Hofve. Flower essences are dilute extracts of  flowers and plants that work on the body’s energy system to create emotional, spiritual and physical balance. He uses the essences in every case he works with.

If you’re not already watching the show, tune in tomorrow night. Jackson told me that one of the two cases that will be featured in tomorrow’s episode was the most dramatic he’s ever worked with: a completely feral cat who was adopted out by the shelter under false pretenses. The cat’s new guardians  were told the cat was 70% domesticated. You’ll have to watch to see what Jackson calls “miraculous results.”

For more information about Jackson Galaxy, please visit his website. You can also find Jackson on Facebook and Twitter

!cid_4E53343E-2533-43B8-8EF6-F95498CC3922@greatergood

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62 Responses to “Up close and Purrsonal with Jackson Galaxy, Star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell””

  1. I have been watching Jackson Galaxy’s show too. I think it is important for owners to realize that cats have natural instincts and need special toys. perches and places in the home to be happy. I think the show demonstrates that simple changes can make what might seem like a “bad” cat into a happy and good cat. Thank you for the post Ingrid!

  2. Marg says:

    Wish we could watch that show but we don’t have the green papers to be able to get all those channels. We don’t have cable or a dish. But it sounds like a fun show.

  3. Vickster says:

    A fabulous show, and thanks so much for posting your interview with Jackson! I love my cats to pieces, but I often am flummoxed by them. This show shines light onto the cat-human communication and how it can be interpreted incorrectly. I am often accused of taking their antics ‘too seriously’ but I am dedicated to making my cat companions (bosses?) as healthy and stress-free as I can possibly make them, and this includes the three TNR’d ferals I feed.

  4. Zee and Zoey says:

    I applaud Jackson and this show. It is very important that the typical stereotype that lumps all cats into one category – aloof, independent, and unfriendly be de-mystified. Many times cats are brought into shelters because their owners label them as having behavioral problems that can’t be fixed, rather than taking the time to figure out a solution that more times than not, is actually quite simple. I am also very pleased to see how many men are now welcoming the virtues of owning a cat – another stereotype that needs to be de-mystified, that men don’t like cats. Cats are extraordinary creatures and it is wonderful to see someone like Jackson bring that to the surface for the whole world to see..

    Deb Barnes

  5. Bernadette says:

    No TV here but I think I might have to find a way for me and the kids to see this one. Download to iTunes and gather around the computer?

  6. We need more show and guys like Jackson. More awareness = more adoptions and happier cats.

  7. I just set tomorrow’s show to record. Looking forward to watching it. My cats add so much to my life. I want them to have the most interesting and stress free lives they can possibly have. My cat Sammy likes to watch TV. Perhaps he’ll watch it too.

  8. Robin Olson says:

    Jackson’s awesome. I hope he spearheads helping other people realize what they can do to understand how to think like a cat and have a better life with their animal companions, instead of give up on them and dump them at a shelter when they have behavior issues. Having animals in your home takes work and dedication. Now, if Jackson would please come over to my house next! Even I get stumped with my own cats! :-)

    Great article!

    • Ingrid says:

      Robin, I think this show will go a long way toward making people understand that most cat “problems” are really human problems, and that the solution is not that hard when you really understand cats.

      Hmmm – your household might just be the one that stumps even Jackson… ;-)

  9. I haven’t seen that show. HH is going to look for it. Great blog post. Thanks.

    pawhugs, Max

    • Ingrid says:

      Thanks, Max – I hope HH enjoys the show.

    • kathy koval says:

      Dear Jackson

      We have two cats that we enjoy in every way. The one exception is that both cats prefer NOT to be held. It is OK to pet them if they are grounded on the bed, chair or floor but once picked up…its over!

      Enjoy your show,

      Kathy

      • Ingrid says:

        This is not Jackson’s site, Kathy, but I can try to answer your question. Not all cats like to be held – it’s a personality thing, and forcing them is only going to ruin the bond between you and your cats. It sounds like they enjoy being petted when you’re not trying to hold them, and that’s perfectly fine!

  10. This is my new favorite show! I’m amazed that although I’ve had cats all of my life and thought I new a lot about them, I’ve actually learned some things I didn’t know.

  11. Mary says:

    I am so glad to see someone taking on the behavior problems of people that have cats! Some people treat their felines as though they are dogs, some ignore them because they’re “just cats,” some people hate cats (can’t trust those folks!) and others of us love and understand them. If someone, such as Jackson, has the ability to educate these people on the behaviors of cats, it would save a lot of them from euthanasia. After all, the cats are just being cats. It’s what they are programmed to do. If Mr. Galaxy can do for cat owners what Pat Parelli did for horse owners and what Cesar Millan did for dog owners, all the power to him. Good Luck and keep up the good work for all cats!

    • Ingrid says:

      Jackson is definitely saving cats’ lives, Mary. Thankfully, the show brought his approach to working with cats with “behavior challenges” to a wider audience. Let’s hope Animal Planet renews it for a second season!

  12. Peter says:

    We have made a point of rescuing cats for the last few years, and thought we knew a lot about dealing with them. Jackson has already taught me new tricks that I never knew existed.

    • Ingrid says:

      I thought I knew a lot about cats, too, Peter, and I, too, have learned from Jackson. He has a way of making you look at things from the cat’s point of view, and that changes everything, doesn’t it?

  13. [...] Up close and purrsonal with Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell&#8… Tags: cat rescue , Jackson Galaxy , shelter cats , The Pet Postcard Project [...]

  14. [...] and star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson Galaxy. During my interview with Jackson for The Conscious Cat, he graciously offered to send me a couple of his essences for Allegra. [...]

  15. Simon p dahl says:

    I just started watching jackson’s cat series on animal planet. I call it series because calling it a show is kinda undermining it, because i see it as Something amazing, and it’s so much to learn from this program of how to understand your cat and it’s need’s. It’s like. “my cat and me” program:) i have a wonderfull cat my self and i know to many people around me who definetly should watch jakson’s programs and learn to love cat’s and animal in general and when watching jackson work with a family and their cat, you can clearly see the love cat’s can give us if we know how to take care of it and respect them…

    • Ingrid says:

      Jackson is amazing, isn’t he, Simon? By showing viewers how even “difficult” cats can be turned around with lots of love, and by looking at life through their eyes, he’s saving cats’ lives.

  16. [...] For more information, please read my exclusive interview with Jackson for The Conscious Cat. [...]

  17. [...] (or perhaps not), it was filmed the same day I did a phone interview with Jackson Galaxy (click here to read the interview). Jackson was in his car, somewhere in New York, when we began the interview. As we were getting [...]

  18. [...] Up close and purrsonal with Jackson Galazy, star of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell [...]

  19. [...] Up close and purrsonal with Jackson Galaxy [...]

  20. Robert Bono says:

    Hi Mr. Galaxy,
    I’ve watched your show and marvel at the swift progress you’ve made, time and again, with these problem cats. I have a total of 7 cats, rescued/taken in; 4 at my store and 3 at home. It is the 3 at home, which are giving me the biggest problems; they have gradually taken to urinating and defecating “all over the house”! I am wondering if you would consider helping me.
    Best regards,
    Robert Bono, WPB, FL

  21. Jackie says:

    I love the “Cat from Hell”. I love my cats like they are my babies. I have no children but my 2 cats are my joy. I have one who is a comedian and one who thinks she is the queen, and lets face it she is. She, Bibbit, was here first. My boyfriend was at work and found her in the grass and we could hold her with one hand. She was much too young to be away from her mommy so we took over the roll.. feedings every 4 hours and while we were at work we had someone go to our house and do the feeding. She brought me back to life after my Dad passed away at Christmas 8 years ago. Then 1 year later our friends cat had a litter and when I saw my little boy, Yoda, I just couldn’t wait to get him home. He fits right in with us. Not too friendly with each other at first but now they play and sleep together. This all suprises me because I grew up with dogs and didn’t know I liked cats. But I do know now and want to help them anyway I can. I’d have a lot more if my boyfriend didn’t hold me back. I will one day become the crazy cat lady, but it will be in a good way, not the messy disgusting way some people do now. Anyway… LOVE THE SHOW

  22. [...] Up close and purrsonal with Jackson Galaxy Tags: cat products , cat toys , catnip , interactive toys , organic [...]

  23. Gail says:

    Jackson is an incredible human being. He is also adorable. I hope he has a very rewarding personal life cause he deserves it. He touches my heart in so many ways especially when he cries. The majority of men wont allow themselves to be human, but this man does. He is so soft spoken. All I want to do is hug him! His solutions to cat behavior problems is dead on. I learned so much from him. I didnt think that any one else named their cat meow meow, like me, but a recent episode I watched showed where this couple had a cat named Lady Meow Meow. Made me chuckle. Love the name. There is something extremely special about a man who loves cats, and Jackson tops the list! Bless you Jackson!

    • Ingrid says:

      I agree with everything you wrote, Gail. I’m already looking forward to Season 3 of My Cat From Hell, and I can’t wait for Jackson’s book to come out in May!

  24. Sherry says:

    I watched an episode where he put a motorized toy on the floor… and a cat started immediately playing with it. I have an 8 year old cat who is bordering on obesity (the vet says not to let her gain even one more pound) She is afraid of heights and everything else. She is extremely timid and any noise, even someone coming to the door, will send her into hiding. She is fine withe me and loves to cuddle and be brushed… but has a short attention span when it comes to playing. I looked all over for the motorized toy and finally found one. I started it up for her today… sending her running for her hiding place… but left it running and pretended to play with it myself. Eventually she found it interesting… and after about an hour she was playing intently. I let her play with it for about an hour and 1/2… then turned it off … so she laid on it. LOL Thanks Jackson for just bringing it to the show… my cat loves it!

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m so happy to hear that your kitty loves the motorized toy so much, Sherry! Have you tried the Da Bird Jackson also uses on the show? My two girls go nuts for it.

  25. [...] Up close and purrsonal with Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell&#8… Tags: flower essences , Jackson Galaxy , Jean Hofve , Rescue Remedy , Spirit Essence , vibrational healing [...]

  26. Monica says:

    I just finished watching the show “Cat from Hell”. Great show might I add, but I do have two questions… I am wanting to know where I can find that scratching/bed he gave two of the couples on the show. It was really cool looking and functional as well! Any one seen it before? Second question, I have a three month old kitty that is biting. She goes from sleeping in your lap being so loving while I’m petting her, and the next moment she is biting. It’s not a hard bite, but after watchin that show I dont want to see what she can do as an adult cat. Help….

  27. Monica says:

    Ingrid,

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU so very much! The firm “NO” and the soft tap on the nose is helping. Our baby girl doesn’t like to be told no, but she is getting the hang of the routine. I am (or so I thought) a dog person and know nothing about cats/kittens. The knowing why her pupils become so enlarge from time to time is helpful. The other issue we are having, is that she LOVES going under my daughters blanket at night and get her toes. I don’t believe she has ever actually bitten her but she does wake her up in the middle of the night. We’ve put up a baby gate that is helping for now, but I’m not sure for how much longer.

    Counters… How do I get her to stop getting on them? I spray her with the bottle but she continues to jump up even while I’m trying to get dinner cooked. She jumps down when I spray her but is right back at it when I turn my back. My husband build her a beautiful tower with a scratching post attached so she can scratch and lay up high. Any advice on that one?

    • Ingrid says:

      The toe playing at night is most likely simple boredom. Try playing with your cat for 5-10 minutes just before you go to bed. Really tire her out. It may be enough to get her to sleep through the night rather than look for things to entertain her, like your daughter’s toes.

      I don’t like using the spray bottle for many reasons, and as you can see with your cat, it doesn’t really work. Jackson wrote a great guest post about this topic: http://consciouscat.net/2012/03/29/squirt-bottles-punishment-and-cat-behavior/ The SSSCat device he mentions in the post is a much better solution to keep kitties off of counters.

  28. sherri heaps says:

    Jackson. Thank you sooooo much for your cat from hell tv series and for bringing to the american public that its not weird or crazy to walk your cat. I have been a cat walker for four years and felt like i was the only one who did, so thank you,thank you,thank you. keep up the good work of being a cat advocate and if you ever need assistance let me know.

  29. [...] Our friends at Spirit Essences surprised Allegra and Ruby with two Cat Buddies last week! They turned out to be a big hit with both girls, and we would expect no less from any toy recommended by Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy. [...]

  30. Marjorie says:

    LOVE the show, but hate its name (“from Hell?” yuck). I’ve learned so much about cats from it, and I grew up with cats around. My current two are “from Heaven,” a bonded pair of boys whose antics amuse me continually. Jackson rules!

  31. Monica says:

    Hello all…. Ingrid, I’d like to thank you for the advice you had given me some time ago regarding my kitty and my daughters toes. Update: she doesn’t bother anyone in the bed and all toes are safe!! = ) We did have to re home one of our cats because she was attempting to sleep across my infants face. We tried many different tools but the safety of my child was at risk per my vet.

    Fiona has a 30 second or less thing about her and I wanted to know if anyone else has ever had a cat do as Fiona does. She will allow me to hold her as I am in motion from my bedroom to the front door only. Well, she once allowed me to do this everyday, now it’s on her term only. Since she was a kitten while I was getting dressed and ready for work she woud follow me around and watch me as if taking notes. When she seen I was going for my shoes she would run to the bottom of the bed and meow until I picked her up and walked her to her tower by the front door. She enjoys this spot as we have an oval window in the door. About three months ago I was running late and grabbed my shoes from my room slipped on my slippers and ran out the door. I could hear her meow but I just couldn’t stop and turn around. As I was locking the door I could see her looking at me and meowing. Since that day she doesn’t wait for me at the bottom of the bed so that I can pet and kiss her to the door on my way out. I’ve tried giving her treats, tuna, anything to tempt her to come to me in the morning and she just will not. Is our morning bonding lost forever?!

    TMI; I know this is just too much TMI but I must explain… As mentioned above Fiona’s 30 second or less rule, that rule doesn’t apply for the err bathroom. If I’m sitting she will stay in my lap for as long as I am er sitting. Bathroom is NOT the time I want a cat in my lap so I place her down and lock the door. Why does she only want lap time while I’m in the bathroom? I’m sitting here writting this to you and she’s sitiing on my bed looking at me. Suggestions?

    Brawny Cat… does anyone know where I can get one cheaper? It is too far out of my budget, I have three little ones and cannot save for this ever but just know she would LOVE it!! Do you know of anyone that would donate one? Would the show donate one?
    Thanks so much!! Fiona’s mommy….

  32. Monica says:

    P,S… After my showers she gets into the shower walks around and begins the following me around process. In my closet she has a wall that she scratches (while looking at me and just knows I’m going to point and say NO). She runs as I say NO but comes back seconds later and nehaves once again like a princess watching me. Why does she feel the need to get into the shower after I’ve gotten out? Is this a normal cat thing? It’s only after my showers. My husband or children’s showers are not of any interest to her. Just thought I’d ask. Thanks again….

  33. Monica says:

    Ingrid, do you have tips on getting her into the crate that doesn’t involve two people and a towel? She does not like the crate and does not like the vet. WHat can I do? Our vet I can tell hates when we come in because she does get scared of the crate new area and the sounds and smells of the other animals. Any tips? My arms will thank you for any.

    Hopefully we can save up for one in the near future. Ingrid, your awesome with your responces!!

  34. Bobbie Small says:

    Jackson, I have given my mom a kitten for Christmas. Within weeks of getting the kitten it started to show aggressive dominance signs. Only for company not towards my mom. My mom is 80 and needs care almost daily . I am there daily and feed, play and try to love the kitten but it hisses and swats at me and everyone else. When we (myself or any other care givers) walk away, the cat runs and swats to bite the back of our legs. The cat is mow 7 months and the most beautiful cat , however if my mom passes I am not sure what to do.

  35. Mary Anne says:

    Hi, I have a problem with the stray I took in. Fist of all let start from the beginning My husband bought me a kitten we named her Sophie) 6 months old from the Human Society because now know wanted her because she was a little spitfire she was born there and did not know love. But we kept her and she found out what love was and turned out to be a playful cat. Then this woman down the street decides to throw her Black cat to live on the street her name was Lila and she cried everyday looking for love and a place to eat and sleep. She tried to get in our chicken coup to keep warm. I would feed her and let her stay on the porch. I watched her all winter feeling bad and she would walk the street from house to house crying for love. I cried every day I se her. She would walk up to strangers and want them to pet her. Finally I took her in and it took a while for her to trust us and get to come in but she did. But she hissed at my poor Sophie a lot when she wanted to play with her. it has been almost a year now and she clamed down but now Lila chases her and tries to attack her my husband always tries to stop it. He worries and I d to Lila is so much bigger than Sophie. What can I do to get them together. Why is Lila so grumpy at my cat. I rat them the same. Lila has gotten worse since fireworks this July. I tired to keep them in and close the windows . She has a lot of love for my and my husband and get along with the other cats that come around some times we feed strays. I don’t want to give her away I want to fix this . Can you help me she is such beautiful cat and stays in the yard cause she knows she has a home now and purrs a lot for me. I hated seeing her mistreated. There are so many where we live. Sorry this is so long.

  36. Christine says:

    I’ve been watching “My Cat from Hell” since day one. Love, Love, Love his show!! Jackson gives fantastic advice that not only helps the families on his show but to his viewers as well, he is amazing! Loved his book “Cat Daddy” & I highly recommend it to his fans. Last month Jackson was the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, NY as part of his “Cat’s Uncaged” Tour along with Seth Casteel & Jorge Bendersky. I was lucky enough to attend, what a great event! Plus Jackson signed my book for me!! What an exciting day!!

    Thank you Ingrid for your wonderful website & your daily e-mails. You give such wonderful advice, love The Conscious Cat!

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