Animal Planet’s feline wrangler, Jackson Galaxy, talks cat psychology, bi-petuality, and the perils of putting cats on camera.
1. Don’t even try to think like a cat—it’s an exercise in futility.
Cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy, of the Animal Planet reality show My Cat From Hell, has seen too many people try to psychoanalyze their pets. “When the cat’s peeing around your house or the cat’s just bit someone, something that takes you from 0 to 60 in terms of the steam coming out of your ears, it’s the worst time to think you know what’s going on in the cat’s mind.” Long story short: You’re projecting. It’s not about you; cats are territorial.
2. He proudly swings both ways.
Galaxy has devoted his life to cats, but his Spidey-sense tingles in the presence of all animals. “I freaking love dogs,” he declares, noting that he has one at home (along with three cats). “Cat person, dog person—I am proudly bi-petual. I do believe that cat energy and dog energy balance so beautifully in your home. Why would you deny yourself that?” Why indeed.
3. Trying to get cats to behave on camera is…well, like herding cats.
TV is full of canine companions: Modern Family’s Stella the French bulldog, Comet from Full House, that little dude from Frasier…. While there’s no question that cats own the internet, you don’t see too many pet cats on the tube. Galaxy allows that there was some initial hesitation about doing a reality show featuring felines: “To go into a house where a cat is already freaked out and bring a film crew is unheard of.” As much as we may love our feline friends, he says, they’re not the most compliant species. “Cats are definitely trainable, but trying to get them to hold a certain position and stay there for a good length of time—sometimes I think, TV-wise, it may be more trouble than it’s worth.” In other words, aspiring LOLcats should stick to their true habitat: the internet.
4. Beware: Your cat will pee all over your ego.
A true animal lover, Galaxy doesn’t let his ego get in the way of a tricky case. If owners are fed up and therapy isn’t working, he’ll encourage them to find a new home for the cat. “The book I’m writing now is all about the cat I lived with for 14 years who beat me up, ego-wise, on a daily basis,” he says. “But if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have this knowledge to pass on to other cat people.” In 17 years of working with cats, Galaxy has seen a lot, but after filming two seasons of his show, he admits there are still surprises. “Keep your eye open for a cat named Penny Lane,” he warns. “All these years, I’ve never seen anything like that one.”
Season 2 of My Cat From Hell airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Animal Planet.