So many people claim to be cat whisperers and have the special talent that enables them to figure out an animal’s mind. True professionals in this field though, make their living based on a sound knowledge of the science of animal behavior. The problem is that in this unregulated field anyone can claim to be a cat expert, cat whisperer, cat therapist, cat psychologist, or cat counselor. Anyone can put up a website, make claims about their expertise and post testimonials but how do you know their expertise is valid? If you’re having a behavior problem with your pet and your family life is in crisis because of it, you may be enticed by claims of “guaranteed” results or lots of testimonials on the website (that may not be real), but a wrong choice may result in making the behavior problem worse.
Start at the Veterinary Clinic
If you feel you need professional help with a cat behavior problem, how do you go about choosing the right expert? The first place to start is at your veterinarian’s office. I know it doesn’t sound as glamorous as consulting with someone who claims to have some sort of special rapport with cats and ability to “whisper” to them, but many behavior problems can be the result of an underlying medical problem. This happens more often than you’d think. An examination by your veterinarian should be your first step. You’d be surprised how many times a litter box problem is due to a medical issue. I’ve seen lots of cases of aggression as well where the cause turned out to be medical such as periodontal disease, spinal pain, abscess, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, and so on. So don’t skip this step even if you’re convinced the problem is behavioral or your cat may needlessly suffer. If you’ve reached out to a behavior “expert” and that person hasn’t instructed you to visit the veterinarian before setting up a behavior consultation then you need to seek out someone else. A true behavior expert knows it’s important to rule out medical causes first.
When you visit your veterinarian, be as specific as possible about the behavior the cat has been displaying. Sometimes when the veterinarian asks how often the litter box is cleaned the client may be embarrassed and not tell the truth. That doesn’t help the cat and could seriously delay solving the problem. When the veterinarian asks questions give as honest and complete of an answer as you can.