I love Jackson Galaxy. For those who don’t know him he is ‘a cat behaviorist by day and a musician by night, who visits the homes of cat owners in order to resolve conflicts or behavior issues between the owners and their cats or between the cats and other pets’.
Mr Galaxy is a good guy. He is very knowledgeable and knows cat behaviour more than anyone, almost. He is well qualified to advise on cat behaviour problems which he does on his television show, My Cat from Hell.
So where is the conflict of interest? The answer is in the name of his show. It focuses entirely on the cat. It paints the cat as a potential demon from hell itself when almost all cat behavior problems are traceable back to human behavior. You ask me any question on the aggressive or anti-social behavior of a healthy cat and I’ll trace it back to people.
The trouble is this: the show has only been created to entertain people. That is its purpose. The more viewers the better. The secondary purpose is to cure the cats of aggression. This should mean focusing almost entirely on the cats’ owners and their homes. But people won’t be as interested in a television show called, ‘Cat Owners from Hell’ because people don’t like having a mirror held up to their behavior.
Of course Jackson discusses the behavior of the cat owners in the show but he can’t overdo this because it would turn viewers off. They want to see a mad, aggressive domestic cat creating mayhem in the home. It reinforces the belief of cat hating voyeurs who watch the shows to reinforce their belief that cats are aloof, sinister and unfriendly.
The title of the show, which I presume was created by the television executives and not Jackson Galaxy, is misleading and disdainful of the status of the domestic cat. It could be argued that the title might encourages cat abuse. I am not saying it happens a lot but subliminally the title My Cat from Hell, will alter the perceptions of many people who don’t own cats about the characteristics of the domestic cat. How many times have you read on the internet words like, ‘cats spread disease’ or ‘cats are aloof and do as they please’.
Even if cat is aggressive because he is unsocialised, the problem can be traced to human behavior. Here it is: irresponsible human lets their cat breed. Unwanted cats are created. They are dumped. Some die, some survive as ferals. They are unsocialised and aggressive towards people.
Even when cats are aggressive because they are ill and in pain aggressive behavior can be traced back to humans. A cat in pain will not be aggressive towards a person unless the person is unaware that the cat is in pain and tries to pick him up or interact in a way which causes the pain to get worse. The cat lashes out in pain. The problem is the person picking the cat up.
And what about cats being aggressive towards each other in the home? Well, the primary reason for that is because the owner put them together. They introduced a new cat into the resident cat’s space and he/she rejected the intrusion.
The crux of the matter is that television shows are for entertainment. How you arrive at it is secondary to the deeper, moral aspects. In respect of television the purpose of animals is to entertain as they do billions of times on YouTube videos. The attention is not on ethical issues or conflicts of interest.