Cat Behaviorist

Cat Behaviorist

by Michael
(London, UK)

Typical cat behavior - creative commons image

Typical cat behavior - creative commons image

Is there a cat behaviorist in the UK? If there is do we care? That sounds a bit off hand but I am not sure whether cat behaviorists are any use.

I don't think looking after a cat is that complicated and if a cat does have a "behavior problem" we should look at what we are doing, thinking and creating first before we bring in an "expert". A lot of so called cat behavior problems are going to be normal behavior that we don't like, which makes it a human behavior problem actually...!

But I shouldn't be so cynical. I can see that sometimes there may be occasions when a cat behaviorist may be useful if only to tell us what we are doing wrong!

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) currently (July 2010) lists Nina Bondarenko, BA, CABC-SAC but she is not a cat behaviorist. Her specialism is dogs. She is the only animal behaviorist listed by this organisation in the UK.

The USA is a different scene entirely. For example, in Florida there are three cat behaviorists according to the IAABC. They have a useful search facility on their site. The link that I had is now broken sorry (19-Aug-2010).

As far as I can see the IAABC don't explain what cat or animal behaviorists do. Maybe it is obvious but I would like to be told in detail nonetheless. I will presume that they provide consultancy services to rectify cat behavior that is considered abnormal and detrimental to cat and cat caretaker. The techniques must use retraining the cat and I hope that at all times it is training by positive reinforcement and not punishment and fear. There are still many people, even so called experts, who think that it is acceptable to punish a cat for doing something that we don't like.

The Animal Behavior Society is concerned with the the study of animal behaviour rather than providing means to change it. I would have thought that they do not provide animal behaviorist.

Another organisation concerned with animal behavior is the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB). The ACVB "promotes the welfare of animals and the human-animal bond using positive, evidence-based methods." They make an interesting statement about the veterinary pharmaceutical firm Merial. They strongly disapprove of this company's relationship with a specific dog trainer to promote their products Heartgard and Frontline. They say this trainer (unnamed) uses incorrect and damaging techniques that employs "fear and intimidation". Well, good for the ACVB. I won't get in to this too much but it is no surprise to me that a drug company is apparently behaving badly; they do tend to lack a decent level of morality and probity. Maybe the company's directors need some behavioral training!

I'll speculate. Take one cat keeper and his or her cat. There is a perceived cat behavior problem. I would bet my last dollar that there is at least a 50% chance of the problem being a human education problem not a cat behavior problem. The answer is to ensure that people who keep cats are fully au fait and in tune with the concepts of cat caretaking - very many are not. People have distorted expectations.

I would have thought that a cat behaviorist was the next to last thing to consider (the last thing being drug treatment, i.e. tranquillisers) after exploring all the obvious avenues first such as the environment under which the cat lives, illness, pain, multi-cat household issues, stress and our behavior and so on. All the boxes need to be ticked off before we get to trying to alter a cat's behavior through the use of a cat behaviorist. All these things are commonsense issues.

If searching for a cat behaviorist, commonsense also dictates that we should check that they are certified in some way, ask questions and perhaps obtain references. People messing around with our cat's mentality can cause damage and make things worse unless the consultant is skilled and sympathetic.

I have used the American spelling of "behaviorist" as this is the keyword and Americans are this site's most frequent visitors.



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Cat Behaviorist to Cat Health Problems

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Cat Behaviorist

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Jul 08, 2010 I agree
by: Tracey (England)

Its usually humans not understanding cats thats the problem.

Some people expect cats to behave like dogs and they are nothing like dogs.

The problem is rarely the cat its more likely the human.

Ruth its no wonder you hoped that a behavourist would help you had so much happening at the time, so much to think about I'm not surprised you reached out for advice.

Jul 08, 2010 Another money maker
by: Ruth

I have already told this sorry tale on the article here on PoC about cats on Amitriptyline. We wasted £300 bringing a behaviorist up North from down South when our Walter had spraying in the house problems a few years back.
There were none in our area at that time and in desperation, like people do at times of great stress we clutched at straws, it didn't matter about the cost.
We'd had a succession of family bereavements,
change and a newly bereaved cat had come to live with us too.
Our vets were no help at all and being in a very low state ourselves we thought a cat behaviorist might help us.
So I can understand why people in crisis latch onto a ray of hope in the form of a behaviorist, just like we did.
Looking back now I know that Walt was grieving too and picking up on our stress and that like it would for us, only time could help him.
I've worked and volunteered with animals all my life and should have realised that of course, but having talked to the behaviorist on the telephone and having her assurance she could help,I thought it was a worthwhile investment.
Now I know better, I know it's like everything else nowadays, a way to make a lot of money.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jul 08, 2010 Cat Whisperer
by: Dorothy

Interesting. I was just thinking yesterday about whether there is a "Cesar Milan" for the cat world. Not that I need it, but I find it curious and fascinating those who are empathic with animals.

I'm doing my own "Whispering" on Yellow Cat, my favorite feral. She is getting very comfortable with me. She'll wait by the door, look up at me adoringly (knowing I have a full bowl for her) but still, as soon as I slide open the door, she ducks under the close by patio chair, very shyly...and waits for me to retreat back into the house and close the door so she can eat. Usually she is with her friend Shadow, who is a former feral cat, and is owned by my neighbor. They raised him as a kitten, and it took over a year for him to let them touch him. It is the cutest thing ever how those two cats love each other. They hang out, hunt, sleep and eat together. Sometimes Shadow sleeps in his house with his 'people' and Yellow waits patiently for him to be set free. They both eat at my house daily, except for those occasions when Yellow goes away for a couple days.

I'm working hard at getting a good picture of them together to share here on the POC. Wish me luck.


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