Frequently Asked Questions
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Cat Behavior FAQ
What is your philosophy in your work with cats?
My philosophy as a cat behavioral wellbeing educator is to be your cat’s advocate. What we perceive as behavior problems is often our cat trying to cope with boredom, frustration, stressors, or fears the only way they know how (i.e., aggression, house-soiling, etc.). I don’t see cat behavior concerns as problems to fix. These behavior concerns are our cats trying to communicate their discomfort about something with us in cat language, but we humans don’t speak cat!
My goal is to help you understand your cat’s behavior to better anticipate, accommodate, and be sensitive to their needs alleviating behavior concerns and allowing you to build a stronger bond with your cat. You can read more about my philosophy here.
What is your approach?
My approach is comprehensive and multifaceted. I have received formal education in feline domestication, development, communication, and social behavior, providing me with a solid scientific foundation to understand feline behavior. By incorporating these insights and utilizing my observational skills, I am able to identify potential behavioral concerns and their underlying environmental triggers.
However, my approach goes beyond mere scientific understanding. It is deeply rooted in emotional awareness, trauma-informed practices, and holistic perspectives. I don't treat behavior as a separate entity from your cat's overall well-being. Instead, I prioritize a sensitive, compassionate, and trauma-informed approach, acknowledging the unique individuality of both cats and their guardians. Supporting the emotional wellbeing of both cats and their guardians is the core foundation of my work.
How do you vary from traditional behavior consulting?
In my opinion, cat behavior consulting isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, but the most recognized process is addressing behavior through behavior modification and training methods.
I believe in these excellent approaches and have worked exclusively in them during my first four years of practice. However, I find my role is better suited toward educator and guide than consultant or coach currently.
I am most drawn to helping people understand the cause of their cat's behavior and using that to help identify ways we can best support their needs. I see this as the pretext for behavior modification and training. I feel we must understand the "why" behind our cat's behavior before we try to change it. I strongly feel this focus needs more attention in the cat behavior field and want to fill this gap.
In my 1:1 services, I may suggest or refer to some behavior modification techniques. However, I am not offering step-by-step behavior modification or training plans. These approaches require more involved and often long-term 1:1 coaching than my services can offer.
My focus will be on helping you decipher your cat's behavior and offer you guidance in supporting their behavioral and emotional wellbeing. I will refer you to a trusted colleague if you want a specific behavioral or training-based approach or need more involved behavioral care.
Do you consider yourself a cat trainer, and do you offer any training services?
No, I do not and do not offer training services. My expertise and focus are on helping guardians understand their cat's behavior by understanding their emotions and instincts. I believe this is a crucial component that needs more awareness and investigation and is a separate component of cat behavioral care. However, if I feel your cat may benefit from training services, I will refer you to a cat trainer or provide you with training resources.
Cat Advocate Compassion Fatigue & Burnout FAQ
What is your experience and background regarding compassion fatigue and burnout?
I started experiencing CF and burnout in the shelter. I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility for every cat and their outcome. I was also met with resistance and inconsistency in many areas I advocated for, which was very defeating. This translated into my behavior business too. I felt like I was failing cats and felt isolated and lonely in my feelings and experiences.
Why have you chosen to talk about this subject, particularly in cat welfare?
Despite the prevalence of struggles and isolation in cat welfare, this topic is often ignored or dismissed. The mental and emotional well-being of those involved is severely overlooked, leading to significant harm and even loss of life. Many individuals in cat welfare work alone, without any support. I am determined to bring this crucial conversation to the forefront and refuse to let it remain hidden
What do I consider your role regarding this subject?
Though I don't possess formal counseling or clinical credentials, I have sought additional education in CF and trauma-informed care. I see my role as a peer supporter and advocate. I empathize and relate to the lived experiences of others. My focus is on supporting my community. However, it is essential to recognize that what I share and the resources I create are not a substitute for mental health services.
What is your approach to talking about compassion fatigue and burnout?
I value community care and aim to normalize, validate, and hold a supportive space for your experiences and emotions. While I may not have the solutions, I believe that open dialogue and fostering connections within the community can contribute to our collective wellbeing.