PUHI, KAUAI — Catching your kitty’s vibe can help with behavior problems, according to Jackson “Cat Daddy” Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell.”
“Having a relationship with an animal is no different than your human relationships,” Galaxy said. “This is about trying to get humans to that place of understanding.”
The Los Angeles cat behaviorist has more than 20 years of animal welfare experience, is a two-time New York Times Best Selling author, and just started filming a new show in addition to his current Animal Planet gig.
He also heads the Jackson Galaxy Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity founded in 2014 to aid animals in shelters and their caretakers, and is planning a fall release of a new book.
“That book is everything I know about cats in one place,” Galaxy said.
Cats can be a mystery because the animals don’t work to be understood by humans the way dogs do, Galaxy explained, and demystifying the species is the first step to peaceful coexistence.
“We get a leg up with dogs because we innately recognize their behavior, we built them to mimic behaviors that we recognize,” Galaxy said.
Humans didn’t do that as much with cats.
“Cats have been along for the ride this entire time. We’ve never changed them,” Galaxy said. “So my job is to get the humans and the cats to meet in the middle.”
Galaxy is an actor and musician who turned in his Fender for felines in the 90’s after working for about a year at an animal shelter and realizing he was gifted with understanding cats.
“Honestly when I started working at the animal shelter, I had cats in my life, but I wasn’t a cat person. I didn’t seek out the cats,” Galaxy said. “It was more what they saw in me.”
Cats started showing up wherever Galaxy happened to be, he said, and it didn’t take long for him to earn the nickname “Cat Boy.”
At that time the shelter was euthanizing a lot of cats, and Galaxy’s connection with the animals spurred him to advocate for them, hoping to save as many as he could.
“The appreciation for them and empathy for them grew naturally from that environment,” he said.
He came to the decision on a stormy night during a shift at the animal shelter, when 45 cats were loudly protesting the weather and he calmed them in less than an hour by using a blinking technique that established a bond with the cats.
“That experience of having 45 cats in a room and getting them to chill, it was a wake-up moment,” Galaxy said. “I thought, ‘maybe I’m not going to be a famous musician after all, I guess this must be why I’m here.’”
Now, Galaxy is known as America’s Cat Daddy and he brings his fresh take on pet stewardship to shelters and seminars worldwide.
He’s looking forward to visiting Kauai Humane Society when he arrives on the island.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a global perspective,” Galaxy said. “One of the things that floats my boat is bringing my expertise to shelter environments.”
During Galaxy’s Kauai seminar, he will help solve specific problems that people have with their cats, but will also explain how to develop a relationship for the continued happiness of both humans and cats.
“You’ll come away knowing that this is a relationship that can work for both of you and you both can be very happy,” Galaxy said.
Written for The Garden Island Newspaper June 5, 2017. Photo submitted of Jackson Galaxy submitted by Jackson Galaxy, other photos by Jessica Else.