Cat whisperer Jackson Galaxy explains 'cat speak'

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on February 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 18 at 2:45 PM

PHOENIX -- We've all heard of the horse whisperer and the dog whisperer, but who do you turn to if you need somebody to give your cat a good talking to? That would be cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy.

This cat whisperer, also known as "Cat Daddy," is the star of Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell," and he says he's seen some extreme situations but he's never met a cat he couldn't help.

In addition to being a cat behaviorist, Galaxy is passionate about helping homeless animals. He's in town to headline this weekend's People Saving Pets Walk in Tempe and stopped by 3TV Friday morning to chat with Kaley O'Kelley.

Galaxy has been working with cats for 16 years. He learned to "speak cat" while working at a busy high-stress cat shelter at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Colorado.

"Back then, the idea was if I could affect a little bit of behavior, get them a little more social, get them to the front of the cage as opposed to hiding in the back, they'd get a home faster," he explained.

Galaxy read everything about cats that he could find, but it was Anitra Frazier’s book, “The New Natural Cat” that prompted him to experiment talking to cats in their own language. He started with the slow blink, which Frazier describes as "cat I love you." When a cat returns that blink, Galaxy knows he's made a connection. The experiment was a success. In less than a hour, he had turned a room full of yowling cats into a feline slumber party.

"It was pretty amazing," Galaxy said. "I could do something I didn't know I could do."

And he's been doing it ever since, helping countless cat guardians better understand their feline family members.

The first step, Galaxy says, is making a connection with the cat. "[The slow blink] is just an in to their language," he continued. "When you do that, there's a little bit of trust built. Once that trust is built, then we can have a conversation."

A cat picks up its human's emotions and reflects them. A stressed cat parent is going to have a stressed cat. The human element is a large part of a equation that Galaxy deals with in his work. That's why watching the interaction between people and their cats is essential to what he does.

"Half my job is human psychology," he said.

Jackson's goal on any job is to get the humans and the felines in sync and communicating in ways that both understand.

"It's my mission to keep cats from being euthanized -- out of shelters and off the streets for reasons that are entirely preventable," he says on his website.

The People Saving Pets Walk powered by PetSmart Charities is Sunday, Feb. 19, 9 a.m., at Tempe Town Lake. To take part or learn more, click here.

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