Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi is the cat consultant behind Go Cat Go, a San Francisco’s based consulting service for cat behavior advice. With over 15 years of frontline experience in animal welfare, sheltering and one-on-one behavior counseling, DQ offers cat advice that humans can relate to and apply to their own lives, allowing them to “Live in the Meow” with a better understanding and balance.
If you missed part one of our interview with Daniel, click here.
How do you approach a remote consultation?
I approach my remote consults the same way, but I do spend a little more time with the interface between my clients and myself, because the cats are usually just hanging out nearby. I ask that my clients provide video and written information before we meet on SKYPE so I at least have some kind of baseline on their actions, as they are unlikely to present behaviors on cue or in view of the camera. For problems like litterbox avoidance, I do ask that my clients take me on a virtual tour of the places where accidents happen and of course, the litterbox arrangements. That’s always fun! You name it, I’ve seen it – either in person or through the lens of a camera.
Are there any problems you cannot address with a remote consultation?
I think there is value in just having a face-to-face conversation with a consultant. Sure, some problems may be discussed mostly in theory, but I do believe that the personal connection that I make with my client is what sets me apart from other consultants, and that allows for open and understanding discussions about issues that might only manifest in the absence of the guardian or every now and again. I talk about the big picture before we can even concentrate on the actual issue we’re trying to fix. I don’t feel like there is any subject or behavior problem that is off limits for that kind of discussion. Also…subjects covered in a remote consult leave room for further discussion and collaboration with my clients going forward. Solving these cases is a joint effort. No solution in the history of cat problems has every happened without some form of collaboration.
Tell us about your toughest case.
My toughest cases are always those where my own personal safety is at risk. Just having prior knowledge that you might be attacked the very second you enter someone’s apartment is a little daunting and skews your expectations. I have to be conscious of my own behavior and how I may trigger this cat. I have to honor the cat’s sense of insecurity, fear or anxiety, while running the risk of potentially being harmed. There have been a handful of cats that would not allow me to stay in the house at all, despite all my attempts to zero out my intentions towards them. That makes it a little hard to delineate advice…. You know, like trying to instruct someone else how to calm down a drunk guy at the bar, while he swings at you and throws bottles.
I wear protective gear, and try to get as much video as possible before I arrive. In some cases, cats like this do better with the remote consults.
Tell us about your most rewarding case.
I do this work to save lives. That’s the bottom line. So, anytime a guardian has or is contemplating surrendering their cat, I get a little fire burning in my soul. I work very hard to articulate the advice needed to save this cat from entering a shelter, because once someone has crossed that line in his or her mind… surrender is always a possibility. I work on a different kind of surrender. I want my clients to surrender themselves. Give in a little. Let it all go. Surrender yourself. Not your cat.
I have had clients call me, crying from the shelter parking lot, ready to give up on their cats because of a litterbox problem. When someone says that YOU are the last hope for this cat… from the parking lot of the place that may ultimately be the last place they ever go…. There is nothing left to do but act. You take action with kindness, understanding and compassionate support. You reach their hearts in order to bring peace to their minds. I like to think that whenever that happens, its not only the most rewarding case, it’s the mission before me. Let there be no mistake, though. The kindness needed to talk someone off the ledge of surrendering their cat, also needs to be very direct and firm.
Tell us about your own cat.
Cubby, aka Cubby Saint Cubbins, aka The Munchkin cat from Mars, has been with me since I pulled him out of the SF County shelter in 2010. I was working intake for the SFSPCA back then and had just lost my senior cat Matilda to pancreatitis. I didn’t think I would take a chance on another cat for a while.
There was Cubby, sitting in his cage like he owned the place. The song “Dreamweaver” played in my head. I couldn’t believe a creature like this existed. Next, I noticed that he had a tendency to stand upright (kind of a munchkin breed quality). I lost it. I had to have him in my life. Those legs. Those eyes. That Napoleon complex. He was just magic.
Cubby has copiloted Go Cat Go with me for the last four years and has quite the following online. His is simply the most adaptable, ornery little rascal I have ever met and everyday we spend together is a three ring circus, but somehow…. He still tolerates me.