When you cat is displaying a behavior problem it’s a very stressful situation for the entire family. The human family members are impacted by whatever issue the family cat is going through. I’ve seen cases where the cat’s behavior problem has caused serious tension between spouses. Cat parents can be brought to tears over the frustration of not knowing where to turn for help when kitty veers from the norm.
When it comes to being a professional in the cat behavior field, just because someone has had cats all their life or they were told they have a “way” with cats doesn’t make them a cat behavior expert. It’s also not a quick road to fame and fortune. Being a cat behavior expert involves lots of time, dedication and sacrifice.
Behavior problems range from the little pesky issues that annoy the family to the serious ones that can end up being a death sentence for the cat. When cat parents decide that it’s time to call in a professional, the choice they make may create a happy ending or it may escalate the problem. Whenever I do public education seminars I always stress that when families look for professional cat behavior help, they must do their homework and look beyond the flashy websites and self-aggrandizing advertisements to make sure the person hired is truly a cat behavior expert.
When you look at a behavior expert, evaluate their qualifications beyond any too-good-to-be-true claims or website testimonials, and make sure you get a sense of their ethics, integrity and honesty. The latter three points are certainly harder to access but as I’ve watched this profession become increasingly popular, I see some people exaggerating their experience and credentials. Sadly, it’s the cats who suffer because owners put their trust in people who are more interested in becoming famous and not in professionally doing the job for which they were hired.
If you are a professional in this field, please help keep the standards high and remember the goal is to make life better for cats. Remember, we are giving a voice to the animals who can’t speak. We are also often the last resort for cat owners. That’s a big responsibility and how you conduct yourself reflects on everyone in this profession. If you’re a cat parent, do your homework before hiring someone to help you with your cat’s behavior. Because the field of animal behavior is unregulated, there will be many opportunities for you to be taken advantage of. In the hands of an ethical, qualified professional though, you may have the opportunity to have the relationship with your cat that you’ve always wanted.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.