Frequently Asked Questions
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What is your philosophy as a cat behavior consultant?
My philosophy as a cat behavior consultant 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 as humans don’t speak cat! My goal is to help you decipher your cat’s behavior to better anticipate and accommodate 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 to cat behavior consulting?
My approach to cat behavior consulting is integrative. I’m educated from a scientific and conventional standpoint in feline domestication, development, communication, and social behavior that contribute to feline behavior. My understanding of these components and observational skills helps me identify behavioral and environmental areas that could be causing your cat’s behavioral concern.
Additionally, I subscribe to a holistic approach. Your cat's physical, mental, and emotional health and behavior, I believe, are interconnected. Your bond with your cat and even your behaviors can impact your cat. I believe in discussing and addressing all of these areas to best help your cat and you!
How do I determine if we're a good fit to work together?
What are the differences between your individual consulting behavior services?
The differences in my behavior services are as follows:
Basic Behavioral Wellness Advice- This service is email-based only. It is recommended for cat parents who need professional advice on a budget or who do not feel they need the expanded offerings of more involved services. You will receive a questionnaire to give me insight into your cat's behavior concerns. I will follow up with a list of written recommendations to get you started in the right direction of helping your cat. This is a one-time service without any follow-up sessions or emails.
Comprehensive Behavioral Wellness Package- This service is for those looking for a premium personalized service regarding their cat's behavioral wellness. This service is offered in-home (see service area here) or remotely. It includes a 2-hour initial evaluation, personalized written Mind, Body, Soul guide for your cat, 2 follow-up calls, and 12 weeks of unlimited email support. This service is best suited towards people who have cats who are experiencing severe or chronic behavioral concerns.
Can you explain what takes place in the initial evaluation with the Comprehensive Behavior Wellness Package?
During an evaluation, I'll be doing much of the following things:
Discussing your concerns
Assessing and discussing your cats mental, physical, and emotional needs
Evaluating your cat's environment
Evaluating your cat's enrichment
Reviewing your cat's history (medical & behavioral)
Evaluating videos you've sent me regarding your concerns
Discussing you and your cat's routine
Identifying possible areas for growth
Discussing your relationship with your cat
Reviewing cat communication and body language
Discussing your goals
If I choose an in-home Comprehensive Behavior Wellness Package will you be working hands on with my cats?
I’ll want to meet your cat(s), but my focus will be on observation during a behavior evaluation. Observation of their natural behavior in their environment provides me with a great deal of information. I can read a lot from your cat’s body language, learn a lot from your environment and your concerns. Even though I know a lot about cats, I’m a stranger to your cat. I let cats decide if they want to approach me and how they want to interact with me, as I do not want to add any stress to them.
What is behavior modification?
Behavior modification works to modify your cat’s response to a person, place, or thing. Common behaviors I work to help modify are aggression, litter box avoidance, stress, and more. I utilize behavior modification techniques such as positive reinforcement, desensitization, counter-conditioning, and environmental management.
What type of behavior modification techniques will you suggest as part of your behavior recommendations.
My behavior recommendations fall under positive reinforcement, meaning I use rewards (food, praise, play) to encourage desirable behavior. The specific approach and recommendations will be dependent on the cat, but I will never use or recommend techniques that use fear, intimidation, pain, force, or shock to a cat.
Do you offer any one-on-one training services/sessions for cats (i.e. agility, skills, manners, clicker training, etc.)?
I do not. My focus is on behavior consulting and education. Some behavior modification techniques have elements of training and maybe a part of my recommendations. In these instances, I will always provide you with the information and support to implement these techniques yourself. However, if you are specifically interested in someone doing one-on-one training sessions with you and your cat, I will refer you to a trusted colleague who offers that as part of their services.
Will you be able to fix my cat’s behavior concerns during your evaluation if I choose the Comprehensive Behavioral Wellness Package
My last name is Merlin, but there isn’t any sorcery going on here! Behavior modification takes time; however, I will identify the triggers that could be causing your cat’s behavior concerns from our consultation. I will be doing more information gathering based on your questionnaire and observation of your cat (or review video if remote) in a consultation. This will help me develop your recommendations for your cat's Mind, Body, Soul Guide. We’ll go over some of these recommendations in your consult; others I’ll share in your written guide. You, as your cat’s guardian, will need to be open to and implementing these recommendations consistently. Changing a pattern of behavior takes time and daily work. There are not any magic spells to change your cat’s behavior overnight or during a consultation.
Your Comprehensive Behavioral Wellness Package service is a 12-week plan. Does this mean my cat's behavior concern will be resolved in this time frame?
Every cat, behavior concern, and client is unique. In our time working together, many clients begin to see improvement if they implement the behavior plan and utilize the support time during this time frame. I allotted these time frames for working together in these services because this level of guidance and support time often provides many clients with the foundation, confidence, insight, and tools to continue to work the plan with their cat on their own. However, if you feel you need additional help, you can always extend your support time
How long will it take to resolve my cat’s behavior concern?
As much as I wish I can give you a time frame, it's impossible to predict. Every cat and client is different. They have different needs, lifestyles, personalities, and etc. Some cases I work see improvement in weeks, while some take several months or longer. While I cannot give any time frame for improvements, I will help you set up realistic goals and support you throughout our time working together.
Can you guarantee you’ll fix my cat’s behavior concern?
I cannot provide any guarantees. Every client, cat, and behavior concern is unique and it's impossible to predict outcomes. Through working together, I will 100% do my best to provide you with guidance and support to help you and your cat(s). You can read more about this here.
I don't think I can work a behavior plan or a cat in my home isn't working out. Can you rehome/foster my cat?
These are very stressful and heartbreaking decisions to be made. I understand the difficulty. However, rehoming and fostering cats myself is not part of my services. If you are looking to rehome your cat, I'd be happy to provide you with some resources and organizations to reach out to help you, but as the guardian of your cat, it is your responsibility to pursue these options on your own.