PUHI — Pickin’ up on that feline beat isn’t just a suggestion from a song in the Disney movie “Aristocats.”
Catching your kitty’s vibe can actually help with behavior problems, according to Jackson “Cat Daddy” Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell.”
“Having a relationship with an animal is no different than your human relationships,” Galaxy said. “This is about trying to get humans to that place of understanding.”
On June 22, Galaxy will bring his strategies for cat-human coexistence to the Kauai for the first time in an event hosted by Kauai Humane Society.
“Jackson brings a unique mix of entertainment, knowledge and compassion, which the community is really excited about,” said Scott Pisani, KHS executive director. “We are excited to be able to bring someone of the caliber of Jackson Galaxy to our community.”
Galaxy’s passion for cats was also a key part of why the KHS board of directors decided to bring him to Kauai.
“We hope that by bringing him here we can provide a renewed focus on felines in our community,” Pisani said. “We want to give Jackson the opportunity to meet with our staff and share our mutual passion toward cat welfare and rehabilitation.”
The Los Angeles cat behaviorist has more than 20 years of animal welfare experience, is a two-time New York Times best-selling author, and just started filming a new show in addition to his current Animal Planet gig.
He also heads the Jackson Galaxy Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2014 to aid animals in shelters and their caretakers, and plans to release a new book in the fall.
“That book is everything I know about cats in one place,” Galaxy said.
Cats can be a mystery because the animals don’t work to be understood by humans the way dogs do, Galaxy explained. Demystifying the species is the first step to peaceful coexistence.
“We get a leg up with dogs because we innately recognize their behavior, we built them to mimic behaviors that we recognize,” Galaxy said.
Humans didn’t do that as much with cats.
“Cats have been along for the ride this entire time. We’ve never changed them,” Galaxy said. “So my job is to get the humans and the cats to meet in the middle.”
Galaxy is an actor and musician who turned in his Fender for felines in the 1990s after working for about a year at an animal shelter and realizing he was gifted with understanding cats.
“Honestly when I started working at the animal shelter, I had cats in my life, but I wasn’t a cat person. I didn’t seek out the cats,” Galaxy said. “It was more what they saw in me.”
Cats started showing up wherever Galaxy happened to be, he said, and it didn’t take long for him to earn the nickname, “Cat Boy.”
Now, Galaxy is known as America’s Cat Daddy and he brings his fresh take on pet stewardship to shelters and seminars worldwide. He says his job is to show humans how to understand cats and to help cats find their mojo.
But when Galaxy was still working in the shelter, part of his job was euthanizing cats, and his connection with the animals spurred him to advocate for them, hoping to save as many as he could.
“The appreciation for them and empathy for them grew naturally from that environment,” he said.
He came to the decision on a stormy night during a shift at the animal shelter, when 45 cats were loudly protesting the weather.
He calmed them in less than an hour by using a blinking technique that established a bond with the cats.
“That experience of having 45 cats in a room and getting them to chill, it was a wake-up moment,” Galaxy said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not going to be a famous musician after all; I guess this must be why I’m here.’”
He’s looking forward to visiting Kauai Humane Society when he arrives on island.
“I’m fortunate enough to have a global perspective,” Galaxy said. “One of the things that floats my boat is bringing my expertise to shelter environments.”
Pisani said he’ll be meeting with Galaxy “to hear his thoughts on the strategies we can employ on our island to improve the lives of the felines who reside here.”
During Galaxy’s Kauai seminar, he will help solve specific problems that people have with their cats, but will also explain how to develop a relationship for the continued happiness of both humans and cats.
“You’ll come away knowing that this is a relationship that can work for both of you and you both can be very happy,” Galaxy said.
Tickets are available at kauaihumane.org and are $15 for KHS members, $30 for general admission. Admission for kids ages 6 and under is free.
VIP tickets are available for $150 and secure include preferred seating and an opportunity to meet Jackson Galaxy.
The seminar begins at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall at 5:30 p.m. June 22.
Info: Elizabeth at 245-7659 or boardofdirectors@ kauaihumane.org
Written by Jessica Else at The Garden Island Newspaper