In the midst of a long drought of summer re-runs, one bright spot is the return of a new season of Animal Planet's breakout hit, "My Cat From Hell." This show stars Jackson Galaxy, the tattooed, pierced, oddly-bearded, biker-looking dude who is - contrary to appearances - and isn't that a lesson for you - a kind, sensitive, and empathetic cat behavioral specialist.
In the same way that "The Dog Whisperer" IS Cesar Milan, "My Cat From Hell" IS Jackson Galaxy. He literally makes the show. Galaxy's humor, intuition, and ability to assess a situation from a cat's point of view is as unique as it is fascinating. I recently found his blog, jacksongalaxy.com, via his Twitter feed. (Animal Planet promotes the "My Cat From Hell" section of its website, which is somewhat paltry. If you are interested in the show, check out Jackson's own site!) His seven minute video "The Politics of Litter"
will teach you more about cat psychology than an entire shelf full of useless conventional cat books.
Cats have, in large measure, been under-served by the animal behaviorist movement. Horses have the Horse Whisperer, dogs have celebrity trainers from Cesar Milan to Victoria Stillwell. But cats remain largely a mystery to most owners, their behavior as strange and unexpected as it often is vexing.
You may not have a true "cat from Hell," but if you own a cat, you have questions about it. Whether you realize it or not. Watching Jackson illuminate the inner life of the cat for his clients is as educational for viewers as it is for the (often pitiful) people on his show.
And if there is one thing "My Cat From Hell" has taught me, it's that people really really love their cats. I thought I loved my cats, but do I love them enough to endure some of the things Galaxy's clients endure, all in the name of love? I'm not sure that I do. I spent fifteen years with an incorrigible sprayer (and yes, he had been neutered before he hit puberty). But even that commitment pales in comparison to some of the cats on this show. It's downright heartwarming to see cat owners sheepishly admit that they put up with their cats' violent and destructive tendencies because they can't bear the thought of having them put to sleep at an animal shelter.
The final lesson of "My Cat From Hell," in other words, is that cat people are AWESOME!