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.
Do Your Homework Before Choosing a Cat Behavior Expert
Behavior modification is a powerful tool and if done correctly, is an effective way to change unwanted behavior. Behavior modification is science-based and there’s no magic about it. A trained, professional expert can explain to you how and why the process works and the science behind it. An ethical professional will not “guarantee” results because much of the success of a behavior plan depends on client compliance and the specifics of the individual case. A qualified professional also won’t give you a promise that all behavior problems can be “fixed” in a short amount of time. Every case is unique. Your neighbor’s cat with the same behavior problem may take twice as long to correct as your cat’s issue.
Look for Qualified Experts With a Track Record
The best way to protect yourself from the multitude of so-called experts is to ask your veterinarian for a referral to a qualified, certified behavior expert. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists are certified through the Animal Behavior Society. Veterinary Behaviorists are certified through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Certified Animal Behavior Consultants are certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. If the expert you’re considering is listed as certified on the website with no reference as to how he or she was certified, be sure you ask before setting up an appointment.
Anyone can put up a sign or a website and claim to be an expert so the best way to protect yourself is to choose someone who has proven they have documented experience in their field and legitimate credentials. Make sure that person is truly an expert in cat behavior and has a track record involving more more than just shameless self-promotion or gimmicky products. Is the person you’ve chosen recognized by colleagues in the field as a professional? Your cat can’t speak for himself so he’s counting on you to find a qualified professional and not someone who is viewing the current popularity of animal behavior consulting as a ticket to fame and fortune. Those of us who have been in the business for many years know what’s really involved in dedicating our lives to animal welfare. If we were looking for the fast track to fame and fortune, this would not be the chosen career.
Don’t hesitate to ask the behavior professional you’re considering about their background. Is this someone who has demonstrated true expertise in their field or someone who has put up an impressive website and claims to be good with cats because they’ve had many cats in their lifetime? Is website advertising misleading or does it accurately reflect factual information about the professional’s level of expertise? I have come across a few websites with false claims regarding testimonials, staffing, education and even licenses. It breaks my heart for the cats.