feline behavior

Does your home have a cat superhighway?

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The term “cat superhighway” was coined by Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy. In most episodes of My Cat From Hell, you can watch him recommend some version of this environmental modification designed to give cats a way to traverse their indoor environment as if they were outdoors.

Cat superhighways are especially important in households with more than one cat. They give cats opportunities to share territory on more than one level, without bumping into each other and creating possible altercations.

A good cat superhighway includes the following elements:

  • multiple lanes offering alternate routes
  • on and off ramps
  • no dead ends
  • rest stops and lookout points

You can create a cat superhighwayContinue Reading

Do cats have a sense of humor?

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My cats make me laugh all the time. Whether it’s Ruby’s funny growl when she has “caught” a toy, or whether it’s Allegra’s enthusiastic “brrpp” when she sees something that excites her, I can’t help but laugh at their adorable cuteness. Watching a playful cat is far more entertaining to me than watching a comedy show on television. But do cats have a sense of humor? Do they intentionally make us laugh? Do they, perhaps, even play pranks on their humans?

Science is slowly coming around to acknowledging that animals have emotions – something that none of us who share our lives with cats need to be convinced of. So it’s probably not a big leap to assume that they also have a sense of humor.

There’s no doubt in my mind that cats know how to amuse themselves. Continue Reading

Choosing a Companion for Your Cat

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I frequently get questions from readers who are looking to add a new cat to their family. How do I find a cat that will be a good match for my cat? Should I get a cat who’s the same age as my resident cat, or should I get a kitten? Male or female? Will the resident cat accept the newcomer?

Whether it’s a companion for a single cat, or whether another cat in the household has passed away and left a void, adding a new family member is a big decision.

I wish I could give you definitive answers to all of these questions, but the reality is that while you can do some homework, ultimately, each cat’s unique history and personality will determine the outcome.

Ideally, we’d all like our cats to be best buddies who play together, groom each other, and snuggle together. Some cats will bond like that, others will get along but may not ever become close friends, and some cats are confirmed only cats who will never accept a companion. Continue Reading

Meet Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy’s Furry Family Members

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Jackson Galaxy is a busy man these days. He just finished recording the audio version of his upcoming book, Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean. He’s gearing up for a book tour to promote the book, which will come out on May 10, and he is currently shooting the first of ten new episodes for Season Three of his wildly successful Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell.

I managed to catch up with Jackson last week while he was on the set of My Cat From Hell. We chatted a little about his busy life, and his book, but what I really wanted to talk to him about was cats. His own cats. Who are the felines he goes home to each night? Do they have behavioral problems, or are the Cat Daddy’s fur children problem-free?

Jackson shares his life with four cats.Continue Reading

Squirt Bottles, Punishment and Cat Behavior

squirt bottles and punishment for cats

Guest post by Jackson Galaxy

The scenario plays out with cat guardians everywhere: the cat is always getting into something, like jumping onto counters, climbing up screen doors or drapes…and the list goes on. It seems like everyone these days is armed with a handy squirt bottle or squirt gun; sometimes, as I’ve seen in clients’ homes, in every room of the house. Somewhere along the line, this punishing tool has become as prevalent and acceptable as just saying a loud “NO!” In response, we’ve had many queries, both on line and in consultations, about the efficacy of this method.

I believe that the squirt bottle is NOT an effective way of changing a cat’s behavior. When I say this, often I’m met with quizzical or defensive looks. The guardian might say, “But, I’ve seen it work. I squirt, and Tigger jumps off the counter. Nowadays, he just has to see the bottle in my hands, and he runs away.” Yes, exactly my point. Tigger is responding, but is it for the right reasons? No.

What is the cat actually learning in this scenario? Is he learning that the counter is a bad place to be be? No.Continue Reading

Feline Body Language

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Learning how to read feline body language is one of the best ways to understand your cat. Even though cats express themselves vocally, they primarily use their face, tail and body to communicate with each other and with the humans in their lives.

Watching a cat’s eyes, ears and tail can speak volumes about what the cat is trying to tell humans or other cats.

Eyes

A cat’s eyes can give you many clues about her emotional and mental state. Wide open eyes are an indication of trust. Eyes that stare without blinking can be an attempt at dominance. A slit-eyed look can be a sign of aggression or fear. This is different from the sleepy-eyed look, when a cat appears to blink at you, which is generally thought to be a sign of affection.Continue Reading

Redirected Aggression: When Good Cats Attack

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We recently covered petting aggression and play aggression in cats. Today, I’d like to address one other form of feline aggression, and it’s one that can be very frightening, as well as damaging, for cat guardians. This form of aggression is called redirected aggression, and it happens when a cat is agitated by an animal, event, or person it can’t get at. Unable to lash out at the perceived threat, the cat turns to the nearest victim. This may be another cat or pet in the household, or it may be the cat’s humans. These attacks happen seemingly out of the blue, and they can be fairly damaging to the victim.

Redirected aggression is not unique to cats. The human equivalent is the man who gets so angry he wants to punch someone, and ends up punching a wall instead.Continue Reading

Misbehaving felines in Southern California or New York? You could be on TV!

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You’ve watched Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy come to the rescue of behaviorally challenged cats and their humans for two seasons. Armed with his signature guitar case filled with cat toys, Spirit Essences and other training aides, Jackson trains the humans as much as he trains the cats, since the majority of feline behavior problems are caused by humans who don’t understand cats’ natural behaviors.

And now cats and lovers everywhere are rejoicing: Animal Planet has renewed My Cat from Hell for a third season! The new season will feature ten new episodes.

Jackson hasn’t met a cat he couldn’t help. If you live in the greater Los Angeles or New York City area and have a cat whose behavioral problems are driving you crazy, Animal Planet wants to hear from you.Continue Reading

Play Aggression in Cats: Biting the Hand that Teases

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Guest post by Harry Shubin

Next to failure to use the litter box, the second most common reason cats are given up to shelters is aggression. Last week we talked about petting aggression, when a cat is so sensitive that our failure to read her request to “stop!” petting sends her into overload and she gives us an urgent message to stop in the form of a bite.

What is play aggression?

There’s another type of aggression that is all too common, and that’s play aggression. If a petting aggression bite is our fault for not understanding our cats’ language, play aggression is our fault for not understanding our cats’ brains.Continue Reading

Petting Aggression in Cats: Biting the Hand They Love

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Guest post by Harry Shubin

This stuff always seems to come in clusters. I spent some time counseling the first foster about why his cat was biting him. I spent even more time counseling the second foster. Then I worked with the adopter who had the same issue. It finally took Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet doing an episode where every cat bit his or her person, for me to see the, ah, cat scratches on the wall. Or bites on my arm.

Why does my cat attack me?

I  can’t tell you how often I hear “why does my cat attack me?” Let’s start with full disclosure – I have a cat with “petting aggression.” “Aggression” isn’t really the right word, though that’s what it’s generally called. It’s not really aggressive – nor is it mean, nor is the intent to actually hurt someone.Continue Reading

Pre-order Cat Daddy and help save shelter cats

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If you watched My Cat From Hell, you’ve seen Jackson Galaxy demonstrate his almost uncanny ability to connect with troubled cats and their often equally, if not more, troubled humans, again and again. I love watching the transformation his work brings not just to the cats, but also to the humans. And isn’t it almost always the humans who need to change? The cats are just being cats.

I know I’m not the only one who hated to see the current season end. Animal Planet is currently casting for Season 3, but until the show returns with new episodes, we won’t have to go into Jackson withdrawal: he’s got a new book coming out on May 10.

Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean is the story of Jackson’s personal journey from his days as a musician struggling with addiction and working part time at an animal shelter to his present status as the go-to feline behaviorist.Continue Reading