The Cat Whisperer

By on 5-03-2012 in Uncategorized

The Cat Whisperer
A four-week-old orange kitten in front of an o...

A four-week-old orange kitten in front of an older tabby cat. Italiano: Gattino di quattro settimane di fronte ad un gatto piĆ¹ vecchio, dal pelo striato. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you familiar with Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer? Well, there’s also a Cat Whisperer, Mieshelle Nagelschneider! Here is an interview with her, detailed by LovetoKnow’s Lori Soard:

Whispering to Cats

LTK: Can you tell us a little about your C.A.T. Plan system?

MN: The C.A.T. plan is a three-part plan meant to be applied simultaneously. I don’t just address the behavior that we want the cat to do (i.e. use the litter box), but how to undo the habituated behavior that most cat owners have no idea how to resolve (i.e. not urinate on the owner’s bed), as well as to create an environment that allows everything to fall into place for the cat and prevent the behavior from coming back as well as keep future unwanted behaviors from forming. Environment is key for cats.

C: Cease the unwanted behavior.

A: Attract the cat to a new, desirable behavior.

T: Transform the environment. (Enriching, stimulating, utopian and conducive to a cat’s survival and territorial needs)

LTK: You offer telephone consultations. What are the benefits of helping cat owners over the telephone, and how effective is that type of advice?

MN: There are not enough cat behaviorists to go around. Not even enough in the U.S. Phone consultations enable me to help cat owners all over the world in Brazil, Greece, Canada, Germany, the UK as well as the U.S.

I started out doing in-home consultation professionally almost 12 years ago, and then I was being contacted by desperate cat owners thousands of miles away driving around in the humane society parking lot and ready to give up their cats if I did not help them. Over time, I realized that I could offer the same help over the phone with the same success rate. Many cat owners think they have a unique behavior issue on their hands, but the truth is, cat behavior is basic for the most part, and most behavior issues I am presented with are very similar. My clients complete a nine-page feline history questionnaire prior to their phone consultation, and that provides me with almost everything I need to know prior to the phone call — usually I have a complete understanding of the cat’s behavior issue before speaking with the cat owner on the phone. I also request photos and videos for some cases which can be very helpful.

Cat Behavior Issues

LTK: One of the biggest complaints we get from readers is about cats not getting along or suddenly fighting. Can you tell us a little about the Nagelschneider Method and how it might help these cat owners?

MN: The Nagelschneider Method is a social facilitation method that helps create and maintain a group scent between cats in a multi-cat household. A household full of cats lacking a group scent spells trouble and can be the only reason there is hostility between them or that they avoid one another. Cats communicate primarily through scent, and a group scent decreases or can even eliminate hostility between cats. My method consists of a fairly intricate swapping of scents between cats using behavior modification that essentially makes them re-accustomed to one another’s scent, and this builds positive associations at the same time. The method makes them feel more affiliated and familiar with the other cats with the newly created group scent. This is what can help them get along better. The technique must be implemented with no stress to the cat and often times as part of a behavior plan, all of which you can read about in my upcoming cat behavior book, The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do — and How to Get Them to Do What You Want.

LTK: What are some things owners can do when bringing a new kitten into the home to help with training and avoid future problems?

MN: If you are bringing your kitten into a home where there are resident cats, it’s very important that you introduce them very gradually and as non-confrontationally as possible. The biggest mistake cat owners make is going too fast in the beginning and pushing a cat’s panic button so that the new cat and resident cat enter a downward negative dynamic spiral. I do more consultations to reintroduce cats where incorrect or fast introductions ended in catastrophe than I have consultations to correctly introduce cats for the first time. This should be the other way around.

In the beginning, cat owners should create a safe room for the kitten away from any other resident cats in preparation for the introduction behavior plan. This room should have everything the kitten needs; food, water, two litter boxes (preferably not right next to one another), toys and perching and resting areas. The food and water should be located away from the litter boxes as much as possible. A big mistake cat owners make is letting kittens have the run of the household right away, which is too sudden for the resident cats. Many kittens can also forget where the litter box is in the beginning and begin soiling around the home.

I’m looking forward to reading this book! I hope others do too, with excellent results! Maybe if more families could find a way for multiple cats to coexist harmoniously, there would be fewer cats surrendered at shelters based on the assumption that some simply can’t get along with other cats — and that would be phenomenal. Thanks, Mieshelle!

Feather, the cat, purring and kneading her fav...

Feather, the cat, purring and kneading her favorite blanket prior to a nap. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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