FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AS A CAT BEHAVIOR CONSULTANT?
As a cat behavior consultant, the methodologies I use to understand and assess behavior are based on science. I'm well versed and educated in feline domestication, development, communication, social behavior, and sensory abilities 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 issue. Based on my observations, I will provide you with personalized recommendations for you to implement with your cat to help manage and work to resolve the behavior issue.
DO YOU HAVE SPECIAL ABILITIES WHERE YOU CAN COMMUNICATE WITH MY CAT TO LET ME KNOW WHAT’S WRONG?
No. There can be a lot of confusion about what I do. I do not have any special abilities where I can communicate with your cat. You are thinking of an animal communicator or psychic. Some people work in behavior and animal communication, but my work is behavior-based only. I can make behavioral assessments about your cat by observing their body language/behavior, evaluating their home environment, and understanding your concerns.
WHAT DO WE DISCUSS IN A FREE 10-MINUTE INTRODUCTORY CALL?
This call is meant for me to get some insight into your cat’s behavior concern as well as discuss your options. Additionally, I find this call helps both of us determine if we’re a good fit to work together. This call is essentially a “getting to know you” call to determine how I can best help you.
HOW DOES A CONSULTATION WORK?
The consultation process regarding my Comprehensive and Inter-cat Aggression Behavior Packages is detailed here. The Basic Behavior Consultation and Purrfectly Catified Consultation Package are described on my services page.
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 RECOMMEND AS PART OF A "CAT"ION PLAN?
My recommendations in a “Cat”ion Plan fall under positive reinforcement, meaning I use reward (food, praise, play) as a means 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.
WILL YOU BE WORKING HANDS-ON OR DOING ANY TRAINING SESSIONS WITH MY CAT DURING A BEHAVIOR CONSULTATION?
I’ll want to meet your cat(s), but my focus will be on observation during a behavior consultation. 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 be interacted with, as I do not want to add any stress to them.
However, I will provide you with the tools and support to work on any training techniques I may recommend for your cat as part of their "Cat"ion Plan/behavior modification plan. As your cat’s guardian, you have the strongest bond with your cat and will be the one implementing their plan.
DO YOU OFFER ANY ONE-ON-ONE TRAINING SERVICES FOR CATS (I.E. AGILITY, SKILLS, MANNERS, CLICKER TRAINING, ETC.)?
Not at this time. My current focus is on behavior consulting. Some behavior modification techniques have elements of training and maybe a part of a "Cat" ion Plan/behavior modification plan. In these instances, I will always provide you with the tools 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 someone who offers that as part of their services.
SHOULD I DO AN IN-HOME OR REMOTE CONSULTATION?
It's really up to you and your needs. I can accomplish a lot in a remote consultation, especially with video and photo sharing. However, sometimes an in-person meeting and assessment of the environment can reveal more things that may get missed in a remote consultation. Also, some people prefer to discuss things in person. There isn't a wrong choice, and I'm happy to discuss these options with you in an introductory call.
CAN I STILL DO AN IN-HOME CONSULTATION IF MY CAT IS SHY AND PREFERS TO HIDE?
Absolutely! As mentioned above, my work is mostly through observation. You do not need to force your cat out from hiding for me. I will not force your cat out of hiding either. I’ll observe your cat from a comfortable distance so that I can take note of their body language. I will not do anything to add any stress to your cat, cause them fear, or any discomfort. I can learn a lot from your cat’s body language, along with my evaluation of your cat’s living space, and your concerns discussed in the intake questionnaire.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BASIC BEHAVIOR CONSULTATION AND COMPREHENSIVE BEHAVIOR PACKAGE? WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE?
The Basic Behavior Consultation is a one-time service offering you professional advice via a 30-minute phone call followed by some short written recommendations. This service is best suited to clients who have cats who have mild-moderate behavior issues that they need guidance on but don’t feel they need any in-depth evaluation or follow-up like a Comprehensive Behavior Package. However, additional sessions can be purchased if the client needs it.
The Comprehensive Behavior Package is a service that takes an in-depth and customized approach to identify and work to resolve your cat’s behavior concerns. I recommend this service for clients who have cats that are experiencing moderate-severe behavior issues and/or issues that have been occurring for an extended period. These cases benefit best from further evaluation to provide you with the most effective recommendations. This service also provides you with 6 weeks of follow-up and support.
What service you choose despite the severity or length of occurrence of the problem is 100% up to you and your comfort level, but it’s essential to know the difference in the involvement you’ll receive between these services. I'm happy to discuss these options with you in an introductory call.
MY CATS ARE NOT GETTING ALONG. WHICH BEHAVIOR SERVICE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
For most inter-cat aggression issues, I recommend you consider at least a Comprehensive Behavior Package. The complexities of inter-cat aggression would be challenging to discuss and provide effective recommendations for in a Basic Behavior Consultation. However, if you are recently introducing cats or have had only a few mild incidents of inter-cat aggression, a Basic Behavior Consultation may be suitable.
The differences between a Comprehensive Behavior Package and Inter-Cat Aggression Behavior Package are the length of support time. A Comprehensive Behavior Package provides you with 6 weeks of support whereas an Inter-Cat Aggression Behavior Package provides you with 3 months. I have found considering the intricacies of many inter-cat aggression cases they benefit from more support time, which is why I created a separate service. As always, we can discuss the best option for you in an introductory call.
WILL YOU BE ABLE TO FIX MY CAT’S BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS DURING YOUR CONSULTATION?
My last name is Merlin, but there isn't any sorcery going on here! Behavior modification takes time; however, I should be able to identify the triggers that could be causing your cat's problems from our consultation. In a consultation, I will be doing more information gathering based on your questionnaire and observation of your cat and your home. This will helps me develop your "Cat" ion Plan, where I will provide you with my assessment of what is causing the behavior problem along with my recommendations you will need to implement to see a positive change in your cat. There are not any magic spells to change your cat's behavior overnight or during a consultation.
YOUR COMPREHENSIVE BEHAVIOR PACKAGE IS A 6 WEEK PLAN (INTER-CAT AGGRESSION BEHAVIOR PACKAGE IS 12 WEEKS). DOES THIS MEAN MY CAT'S BEHAVIOR PROBLEM WILL BE RESOLVED IN THIS TIME FRAME?
Every cat, behavior issue, and client is unique. In our time working together, a behavior issue may not be fully resolved, but for many clients, they see improvement if they implement the “Cat”ion Plan and utilize the support time during this time frame. I allotted these time frames for working together in these packages 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 PROBLEM?
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 PROBLEM?
I cannot provide any guarantees. Every client, cat, and behavior issue 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 guardian of your cat, it is your responsibility to pursue these options on your own.