Calling Jackson Galaxy

I perked up big-time when our excellent neighbors Fuzzy and Zoe dropped a line the other day to say:  “There is this new show ‘My Cat From Hell’ on Animal Planet . . . . This guy [Jackson Galaxy] is incredible. I learned a lot about a cat’s behavior and needs, and I’ve had cats my entire life.”

Anything that comes our way from our pals Fuzzy and Zoe, we are so on it.

I’m glad for their tip.

Recall my description of what Bugs was doing to hurt and scare the *&)$#@!! out of me.  See the past couple of posts around this one, plus:

Some of you suggest Bugs is trying to establish dominance.  Another factor might be his foraging instincts on warp overdrive.  Recall that I was excited about the results I got yesterday when I applied, to Bugs, what I could grasp from Cesar Millan’s approach to dogs.

Well, Jackson Galaxy has me rethinking the squirt-bottle, and the Cesar, strategies.

Now, before I say why, a few things need clearing up.  One, forget the apparently funky stuff inside the bottle.  The contents are plain clear water.  It’s just the bottle itself that’s weird.  In any case never mind the contents.  Just me reaching for the bottle is enough.  Water has actually come out of it maybe once, only, and Bugs is so fast, very little if any hit him anyway.

It’s true he flinches at the sound of it, or the mere sight of it in my hand – but on the other hand, recall that Bugs has also bent the bottle to his will, and it’s even money who won that throwdown.

In any case, this morning I didn’t need the bottle.  The finger-point strategy alone worked to save my hide.  And the intensity-level was legions lower.  I didn’t even need the SHH.  All it took was to hold myself a certain way, put a certain look in my eye, and point at him.  He quit right away.  (Well, after several tries on his part, that is.)

Jackson Galaxy has some clips on his website (I can’t get but clips from Animal Planet), and one of these is about – the Squirt-Bottle!

Jackson does not approve.

I hope you can find seven minutes to watch Jackson’s website clip and see for yourself why F&Z and I think this guy is so worth paying attention to.  I just love his whole deal.  (No teeth-whiteners for Jackson.  I’m just guessing here.)

Jackson says that behind every “no” there has to be a “yes.”

(What, does this guy know Nonviolent Communication?  This is so Marshall Rosenberg!  This is so – well, Fuzzy and Zoe, so –  POSITIVE!)

Jackson means a “yes” from the cat’s point of view.  Based on understanding.  He actually uses the word “compassion.”  A “compassionate way of seeing their world.”  (Jackson must know Nonviolent Communication.)

That’s to say, the world of cats.  Which is, to state the blindingly obvious, not a dog’s world – so I’m seeing that Cesar’s teachings ought not apply so readily to Bugs after all.

Jackson says squirt-bottles make your cat scared of you.  You’re eroding the bond with your cat, and you haven’t done what you set out to do in the first place.  Which is to “train” or “teach” him –

Or, to put it differently, to find a solution that works for everybody.

And that would be, by Jackson (and so much by me, too) not to bend cats to our will.  The way that works is to see things from the cat’s perspective.  To find strategies to get what you want, while still letting the cat think he owns the territory.

So Jackson talks about specific strategies to keep cats away from kitchen counter-tops. These sound easy and smart to me.  (You want to use an electric-eye air-puffer device make the counter-top, not you, consistently the bad guy.  This is the “no.”  And then, for the “yes,” to provide other alternatives that get the kids up off the kitchen floor.)

Unfortunately in my case, it’s my person that’s the counter-top – and I want to find a way to make my person the good guy here.

I know Jackson will know what to do.  

I know that because – as you’d know if you’ve seen the shock-horror clips on the Animal Planet link – his show is called “My Cat From Hell” for a reason.  The cats on Jackson’s show make Bugs look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms.  Bugs doesn’t come close to these felines – let’s just evaluate them “troubled” or “dysfunctional.”  Or, as NVC Marshall Rosenberg would say, they’re expressing their needs in a suicidal way that’s sure not to work out for them in the longer term.  (Humans, by the way, invented this strategy.  Who says cats can’t learn.)

Anyway, I know the problem with Bugs is bigger than just this early-morning thing.  Bugs’s energy is, at the moment and in general, just more than I can comfortably handle.  (And, Jackson FYI, Bugs is of common or garden stray stock.  He’s not some insane tiger-scorpion hybrid.)

Jackson says he’s up for a vigorous debate about the squirt-bottle issue.  So, calling Jackson Galaxy:

Until I can put together the $$ for a distance-consult with you (and believe me I mean to, but it’ll be a spell; see The Well of Despair a/k/a The Old Car) –

What do you say about reaching for – not actually deploying, but just reaching for – the squirt bottle – Or, forget the bottle, what about the dominance / foraging thing –

Where it isn’t the counter-top that can be turned into the bad guy, it’s the person herself?

When that person has knocked herself out spending many hours and the national debt to provide as much vigorous work-out and mental stimulation for the (confined in(small)doors) tiger-scorpion cat as possible –

And the tiger-scorpion cat is still a monster on steroids?  Even minus his late-lamented ‘nads?

If you need to be brought up to speed on how much energy this cat truly has, check out:


About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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16 Responses to Calling Jackson Galaxy

  1. Oldcat says:

    I once tried to use a squirt bottle to discourage a young cat from harassing an older one. It worked fine – the youngster liked the water so much he would come up and open wide to get squirted in the mouth. Come to think of it, 13 years or so later he’s annoying a different cat. I wonder if he wants water?

    I agree with Jackson in that shaping cat behavior is different than dogs, who will ‘give away’ their issues if the boss takes charge and they get their exercise. Cats are a lot more like people in relations – each cat is an independent actor who might yeild due to respect or fear on a case by case basis. The ‘boss’ might change depending on the situation. In hunting, my younger cat takes over. Strange noises, he follows the lead of my older cat.

    So if a cat is doing bad thing X out of a genuine unmet need, its a lot easier to redirect the behavior to something tolerable than to just make him stop by threats or water. Some bitey behavior is related to teething. My high energy cat chewed my shoestrings in half in four places one night. He’s not as bad now that teething is done.

    The jumping on you in bed sounds like play – you see in films how cats roughhouse with each other and our lack of fur can throw off the bite force calibration. I don’t like being woken early by the cats so I discourage it by ‘corporal cuddling’ (See the youtube Engineer’s guide to cats – basically hug them tight until they want to get away) and I also leave out dry food to nibble on so they aren’t really starving. This is Jackson’s no with a yes, a kind of judo move – discourage behavior X that I hate and give behavior Y which I can tolerate.

    If he is jumping up on doors, giving him ‘stairs’ to let him get up high in various rooms could help by burning energy and satisfyting that need to see what’s up there. With a young cat you might only need a couple of levels to let him get to the top of a bookcase where he could see it all from up high.

    • nadbugs says:

      This connection is why I love blogging so much. Contact! with kindred spirits. There’s so much in this reply to ponder. One, hilarity at how a concept (water as “no”) can turn into yum gimme (water turns into “yes,” but not as the bean imagined). Two, that a response from a cat is not as straightforward as a dog’s — these felines can’t be explained by a one-size-fits-many (like, dog says “this issue is really not that big a thing for me, really my needs are pretty simple” — so not true for cats — maybe their needs aren’t exactly complex, but I’m finding them obscure to me, at least at this stage, and knowing they may be so fact-dependent and contextual helps, it really does — I’m getting: Come on, Bean, this is just another opportunity to pay attention to particulars, and not only what’s going on in your head. . . . Must look into that corporal cuddling — sounds like bodywrap in the TTouch & Temple Grandin way of thinking. I like what you say about the kibble — because Bugs is such an eat-monster, I feel more encouraged to use kibble as treats & shaping-behavior tools given what you say — and I’m going to clear my stuff off one high shelf (come on, Bean, you can do this), given what you say in the last para. Dear readers, check out OldCat’s blog. I’ve signed up. Another kindred soul.

  2. Eleanor says:

    I watched the vid. I like that guy! There seem to be lots of video clips on Youtube. I am now immersed in them. It’s very interesting. He echos a lot of my own thoughts and I’m hoping to learn some tricks from him. Thank you for showing us the link.

  3. nadbugs says:

    My pleasure totally. I find him so refreshing. So “himself.” I’m pleased you’re with me on this.

  4. I’m so thrilled you like him! I must admit, I didn’t realize he was against the bottle. I had never had one until recently, and it does work, so now I’m disappointed! However, Zoe doesn’t take it personal, so if it keeps her from jumping Fuzzy, then I’d rather be the bad guy, I guess. Anyway, I can tell by how much energy you’re spending (and have already spent) working on ways to get along with Bugs, including your very open blog posts, that you’re totally committed to that bad boy. He’s a lucky little dude – I hope that one day he repays your work with kindness!

  5. nadbugs says:

    Dear F&Z, two things about the bottle. First, notice that OldCat (comment above) used a bottle for the same reason as you, and it worked out fine there. And, second, Teresa pointed out yesterday that, to her, it makes a difference that we’re using the bottle for self-defense or defense of others. So to me, context matters. One thing I like so much about Jackson is that he seems all about specific situations and the specific individuals involved. He takes care to observe, to look at nuance, on a case-by-case basis. No one-size-fits-all rules!

    And thank you so much for your comments about what and how I write. This has turned into a life-passion for me, so it’s marvelous to be noticed as you do. As for the Buglet repaying with kindness? He already has — and this latest change between us has only been a matter of a few short days. I’m feeling really encouraged — by him and by you. Thank you!

    • He really does have a way with them. It was amazing to see the transformation of the cats (and the people) in the show. I need to watch more, because there really is so much that can be learned from him.

      I’m so glad to hear that Bugs has improved so much so quickly! One thing that I have found is that with every cat I have adopted (or taken in, whatever), I always have to ‘learn’ them. They all have different ways of communicating and different likes and needs. Since Zoe was an adult when I adopted her, that definitely took the longest, but it was also the most rewarding. You’re doing amazingly well with this semi-feral (I think that maybe what he was…but I’m not sure) little guy – especially for your first cat! I’m pretty sure you get a medal, or sainthood, or something cool.

  6. nadbugs says:

    Oh yes. You may apply for dispensations round the back. M. Bugs will take care of you.

    But seriously, your encouragement — and Bugs’s progress — makes me do the happy-dance. “Semi-feral” is what he was. People were feeding him, but he was living on the streets.

    I simply must get those Jackson episodes. Teresa’s said she’ll tape them for me, maybe. I’m also planning on writing Animal Planet about their marketing philosophy. They are not doing cats any favors, the way they use sensationalism as a lure. I don’t want to be titillated by fear. I can do that all by myself. I want to see Jackson at work!

  7. midaevalmaiden says:

    Thats a pretty cool link. Ide definitly enjoy watching more of him. Though I dont have cable so I can’t watch Animal Planet. 🙂

    • nadbugs says:

      Me neither, Sara, and I want to see more of him too. Teresa gets AP and she’s recording episodes for me. Another option, for you, would be to follow our friend Melanie’s pointer. Here:
      1. Go to Jackson’s blog.
      2. Click on the “My Cat From Hell” button up top.
      3. That’ll get you to a clip. There’s a red button under the clip. Click on it —
      4. And you’ll get into iTunes. There are 3 episodes there (I think all 3; he only did 3?), to be downloaded for $1.99 each.
      T&I are planning on watching an episode this weekend, so if you want to wait, I’ll let you know whether it’s something you might get some value out of. Watch this space. x0x0x A.

      • midaevalmaiden says:

        Hey wow, he mentions my slow blink! Im not crazy after all! heheh.
        What a coincidence, your posting about bugs and bean and jackson yesterday. And today his sight has pics of cats with the buddha and monks. It must be a Global/Fergus event.

        • nadbugs says:

          Oh absolutely you’re not crazy. Isn’t that wonderful? And about the synchronicity, you know, I get the feeling Fergus is behind a lot of stuff.

  8. Eleanor says:

    I am so excited, I just HAVE to tell you!…
    Jackson Galaxy answered a question I asked him about Spock! How cool is that?! And his advice is really working. I’ll probably write a post about it but I wanted to tell you first…Spock has stopped waking us up every morning and it is since I’ve started doing what ‘The Cat Daddy’ suggested 🙂

    If you have a Facebook, Twitter or YouTube account you can contact him for advice. Of course he can’t answer everyone, but he did answer me and several other people who had asked a similar question. Oh, the man has saved my sanity! Thank you SOOOOOOOO much for this post. I wouldn’t have even known who Jackson Galaxy was if you hadn’t introduced him.

  9. nadbugs says:

    Ellie, I bet you I saw his answer — in the video on his blogsite? Where he answers the FB questions? Write your post NOW! I want to see it!

    I did put up this here post on Jackson’s FB wall — and for a response, I got a “like” out of a person I think might be an assistant of his.

    I’m SO glad and happy he’s been able to help you. Wow, that is just fabulous that your sanity has been preserved. Dying to know precisely how, ALL the details. Give over!

    I am very glad to have been the vehicle between you and Jackson the Great — but both of us need to thank OK Cats. They put me onto him.

    He is grand, isn’t he. I’ve watched all three of the episodes in the first season & I need to watch them again. They are so packed full of priceless info.

    • Eleanor says:

      Thank you OK Cats! 🙂
      Yes, it was on his video Q&A – the first question he answered. And doing what he said really works! I now play with Spock for about an hour every night before bed. If I tire him out enough he doesn’t wake us up in the mornings. He really enjoys it too. The change is amazing. I was pretty doubtful that it would stop him acting up that many hours later on but the proof is right here. I am honestly amazed that the solution could be so simple. Marcelo said that I have to thank that man! 😀

      • nadbugs says:

        Well really — I had pretty much the same question with the claw-launch thing. And so I, too, followed his advice — and it’s working for us, too. Isn’t it amazing?? I, too, couldn’t believe that play at night would help, so many hours later — but it does, it does, plus Bugs really is just so much sweeter now — YAY. And I am SO happy that Marcelo appreciates this too. Life is more wonderful. Fabulous, great, terrific. Rejoicing over here.

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