Frequently Asked Questions
Don't see your question answered here? Feel free to contact me so I can help answer your question.
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.
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. The relationship you have with your cat, your cat’s overall well-being, and your self-care are essential components when working through behavioral concerns with our cats. Based on my observations and our discussion, I will provide you with personalized recommendations for you to implement with your cat (and you!) to help manage the behavior concern.
How do I determine if we're a good fit to work together?
I encourage you to read my Our Working Relationship page to help you determine if we're a good fit to work together.
What are the differences between your behavior services?
The differences in my behavior services are as follows:
* Current Service Offerings*
Email Behavior Consultation- 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 concern. I will follow up with a short and sweet 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.
***I am not currently booking the following services. Please email me for a referral to a trusted colleague.***
Basic Behavior Consultation- This service includes a 45-minute phone/zoom call and a short and sweet list of emailed recommendations after our call. You will receive one week of unlimited email support following your consultation. I recommend this service to those who need someone to point them in the right direction and/or need to be more budget-friendly but still need professional advice. This service is best suited for clients with mild behavior concerns with their cat. This service is not a substitute for a more involved behavior consultation like the ones listed below.
Comprehensive Behavior Consultation- This is my most popular service offering and satisfies most of my clients' needs. This service is more involved and offers more support than the Basic Behavior Consultation. You receive up to a minute consultation, an outlined behavior plan, a post-consult follow-up call, and 4 weeks of email support.
Cat Introduction Consultation- This is my only service offering if you're introducing a new cat into the home or looking to reintegrate separated cats into your home due to inter-cat aggression. Introducing cats or reintroducing cats is a very delicate and timely process that I can accommodate for this service option only. This process often requires several months of work and support that my other services cannot accommodate. I am unable to offer this type of help in any other behavior service.
Feline Fundamentals Consultation- This service is a "set you and your cat up for success" consultation. This consultation does not address behavioral concerns; instead, it provides personalized enrichment and environmental management recommendations to help you create a cat-friendly home. I recommend this service to new cat/kitten owners and/or anyone looking to become cat savvier. This service includes up to 1-hour consultation, an outlined "Set You Up For Success" plan, and 2 weeks of email support.
Despite the severity or length of the concern, the service you choose 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.
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.
Will you be working hands-on 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 interact with me, as I do not want to add any stress to them.
Do you offer any one-on-one training services/sessions 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 behavior plan. 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.
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.
Will you be able to fix my cat’s behavior concerns during your consultation?
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 behavior recommendations. We’ll go over some of these recommendations in your consult; others I’ll share in your written behavior recommendations. 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 Behavior Consultation service is a 6-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.