How to Know if Cat Behaviorists Work

The answer to if cat behaviorists work:

The training methods cat behaviorists use are effective at  correcting cat’s behavioral problems. 

However, it is recommended to first visit your vet to rule out a medical issue.

Hire an expert with formal education and experience in animal behavior. Follow through with their recommendations.

If you are having a problem with your cat and have not succeeded in solving it yourself, you might consider hiring a cat behaviorist.

Many years ago, people didn’t know that cat behaviorists existed. But now, with the likes of cat experts like Jackson Galaxy, emerging into the picture, we have come to realize that even the most troublesome problems can be resolved.

All it requires is a little patience and a professional explaining to us why cats behave in a certain way.

One of the main reasons why cats end up in shelters is behavior problems. So, having the resources to help them can save lives. Therefore, how do you find a professional to solve these problems?  

You also want to hire a professional with an effective training method for a positive outcome. That’s why I am here to answer if cat behaviorists work.


Visit Your Vet First Before Hiring Them

The best place to start when your cat’s demeanor is stressing you out is at your vet’s office. It’s common for behavioral problems to stem from medical complications.

For instance, a cat with a urinary tract infection may begin eliminating outside the litter box. Since cats are experts at hiding their pain, you may not realize what is causing the behavior.  

Cat expert, Pam Johnson Bennett, advises that you should never skip this step even if you are convinced the problem is behavioral.

For example, aggression can easily pass as a behavioral problem. But, a number of medical conditions can cause or contribute to a cat’s aggression. It could be because of hyperthyroidism, arthritis, or spinal pain.

It may be easy to assume your cat does something out of spite, but that is rarely the case. When a cat acts out, they are simply communicating to the owner that there is a problem with their system.

A vet will rule out any medical conditions that make your cat do certain things or act weirdly.

When you visit your vet, be specific as possible about the behavior of the cat.

Your vet will discuss supplements, medications, and special diets to curb any undesirable behavior.

If there is no underlying medical problem, then your vet will make helpful suggestions on the best cat behaviorists available.

Basically, the following situations warrant a consultation with a cat behaviorist:

  • You have seen your vet, and they have not found any medical problem.
  • Your cat is demonstrating frustrating behaviors
  • Your cat’s behavior problem is costing you money, time, and energy
  • You have tried to fix the problem but cannot get positive results


You Need to Follow Their Recommendations

The only way to know if cat behaviorists work is to listen to the experiences of those who have worked with them.

The process of changing a cat’s behavior is a two-way process. The behaviorist offers practical help and suggestions, and the cat owner has to cooperate, and be ready to make changes.

One employee of a rescue center says that she has personally seen several behaviorists. In most cases, they were very helpful.

The reason why sometimes the outcome could be disappointing is when the cat owner doesn’t cooperate.

Remember that changing any behavior is hard. It gets even more difficult when training an animal because we can’t speak their language.

It is a process that requires following through with the recommendations given by the behaviorist, making needed changes, and accepting incremental progress.

Behavior modification takes time and patience. A cat trainer gives you all the tools and support. It’s up to you to follow through. Some cat owners give up quickly and take the cat back to the shelter.

Each situation is different, and every cat has its unique personality. Some behaviorists are better than others. But chances of a positive outcome are increased when you look for a certified trainer.


How to Find a Certified Behaviorist

A cat behavior consultant, sometimes called a trainer or a cat whisperer, will be of help if your cat has one or more challenging issues.

A certified behavior consultant, a veterinary behaviorist, and certified applied animal behaviorists are professionals that help in this regard.

They can help assess your cat’s history, environment, and temperament. They will also help you understand your cat’s reaction to various situations.

Here are some great options for finding a cat behavior consultant:

  • Browse through the website of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. This is an excellent source for finding professional and experienced behaviorists.
  • Talk to your vet for recommendations or go to the website for Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists.
  • The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists lists its members on its website.

These resources are helpful because they will help you screen these consultants based on their training methods.

You can also go through their social media channels to evaluate their effectiveness and client satisfaction.

Choosing a cat behaviorist can help you get to the bottom of your cat’s undesirable behavior. Doing so means you care about your cat, and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they are happy and feel safe in your home.


Do Your Homework Before Hiring a Cat Behaviorist

Behavior modification, if done correctly, is a powerful tool to change unwanted behavior. A trained professional should explain how the process works and the science behind it.

They should not “guarantee” results because much of the success of this process depends on client compliance and the specific situation.

A red light to look out for is when a trainer promises that all problems can be fixed in a short time.

Each cat is unique. Your neighbor’s cat might have the same problem but it takes twice as long to correct the issue.

Finding a good trainer goes beyond a quick internet search. Take time to research your options to find one who is a good match for you, and your cat.

Consider their education experience and individual approach. Read testimonials from past clients.

You can also search for ones who live near your area.


Common Cat Behavior Issues

According to the ASPCA, here are some common cat behavior issues:

  • Aggression between cats of the same household
  • Destructive scratching
  • Litterbox problems
  • Yowling and meowing
  • Urine marking where cats pee to mark their territory
  • Older cats behavior problems such as forgetting where their litterbox is
  • Chewing
  • Pica, which is eating nonfood items

To correct these issues, it’s best to work with a cat behaviorist who has  formally studiedanimal behavior at a university and can apply the sciences of animal psychology and feline evolutionary biology.


What to Expect During Cat Behavior Consultation

The behaviorist will arrange for an in-home consultation, a video call, or ask you to visit their clinic. They will then explain to you the behavior modification plan they intend to use.

You must feel comfortable with the proposed plan. It should fit your abilities, schedule, and lifestyle. Most importantly, a professional should ensure the plan fits your cat.

The cat behaviorists should explain why they chose the proposed plan and the science behind it. No drug should be recommended, and no medical diagnosis should be made as they are not a qualified vetinarian.

You will be asked to fill in a detailed behavior and medical history questionnaire.  It’s important to fill in all the questions to the best of your ability. This is how the expert will know how they can be of help.

You may be asked to take videos or pictures to help the behaviorist get a clearer picture of the behavior your cat displays.

For video consultations, most cat behaviorists ask for a sketch plan of the house. This includes details that identify locations of the litter boxes, feeding stations, sleeping areas, and any areas where the problems mostly occur.


Don’t Forget the Follow-up

There should be a follow-up with the behavior professional. Some might charge an additional fee for this service. This is where you contact them with any questions or concerns.

Follow-up is important because the behavior expert can know if you are following the instructions well, and if the cat is responding well.

The expert may send a follow-up report to your vet to place in their records. This report will help the vet follow up on the cat’s progress when you take it for examination.


The Final Word

If your cat’s behavior is becoming extremely difficult for you to handle, you might consider hiring a cat behaviorist.

However, before you reach this step, it’s important to pay a visit to your vet. Most cats’ behavioral problems are due to a medical condition.

Once you have ruled out a medical issue, contact a qualified and experienced cat behaviorist. They do help to correct or manage undesirable behavior.

You need to be patient, cooperate with them , and follow up to get positive results.

Writer: Flora Ojow

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