Q & A
Tell me about your career in cat behavior and how you got started:
I started volunteering with cats at a city shelter in Orlando, Florida in the 1990s. This was before the days of internet research, and cat behavior experts like Jackson Galaxy weren’t widely known, so I learned through trial and error. I knew that the cats that weren’t nice would be killed for space, so I did all I could to figure out what made each cat feel confident and friendly.
I continued volunteering with shelter cats and learning about cat behavior for the next 15 or so years, in many cities and while holding many different jobs. In 2013 I decided that I loved volunteering at Best Friends LA so much that I quit my job to make a full-time career out of helping cats! I started there as a Cat Caregiver, feeding, cleaning, and medicating hundreds of cats each day. As I went through my daily duties, I noticed that each cat needed something special like playtime, a head rub, soothing talking – but there was no time for that as a caregiver.
Luckily, the Cat Behavior Department soon came to be. And I was chosen to be the Cat Behavior & Enrichment Lead where I could do exactly what I’d been wanting to! I felt so lucky being able to have a job where my main goal was to help cats find happiness and homes.
Is your education and background in cat behavior?
My formal education is in education, actually. I have a Masters in Education from Pepperdine and was a teacher for many years. My education in cat behavior has been through classes, lectures, books, conferences, and many years of working with thousands of cats in shelters. There’s no formal education that can provide that kind of skill level! And I use my background in education a lot too! I educate the volunteers on how to interact with the shelter cats and I educate owners on how to interact with their own cats. I also teach a lot of cat behavior classes and speak at conferences. So my teaching skills have actually paid off in the cat world too!
Why did you decide to get involved with the Jackson Galaxy Project’s Cat Pawsitive program?
Jackson has done so much to help shelter cats! And Cat Pawsitive is doing amazing things to improve the lives of shelter cats and those who care for them. I want to be involved in everything Jackson and his foundation are accomplishing and I want to help in any way I can.
What is Jackson Galaxy like?
Jackson is THE BEST! He’s truly as kind and wonderful as he appears on tv. We’ve been friends and colleagues for years, and I appreciate his support so much! I’ve learned a lot from him, and I love that we agree on all things cat behavior.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I performed as a Disney Princess for years at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. I got to spend my days turning conversations with strangers into magical, heartwarming memories. I love that these days I get to bring magical moments to cat owners by bringing the joy of peaceful, harmonious cat households to their lives.