Behavior problems range from the little pesky issues that annoy the family to the serious ones that can end up being a death sentence for the cat. When cat parents decide it’s time to call in a professional, the choice they make may create a happy ending or it may escalate the problem. Whenever I do public education seminars I always stress that when families look for professional cat behavior help, they must do their homework and look beyond the flashy websites and self-aggrandizing advertisements to make sure the person hired is truly a cat behavior expert.
When you look at a behavior expert, evaluate their qualifications beyond any too-good-to-be-true claims or website testimonials (many are false), and make sure you get a sense of their ethics, integrity and honesty. The latter three points are certainly harder to access but as I’ve watched this profession become increasingly popular, I see some people exaggerating their experience, education and credentials. Too many behavior “experts” are also claiming they can read cats and communicate on a special level with them. Sadly, it’s the cats who suffer because cat parents put their trust in people who are more interested in becoming famous and not in professionally doing the job for which they were hired.
If you are a professional in this field, please help keep the standards high and remember the goal is to make life better for cats. Remember, we are giving a voice to the animals who can’t speak. We are also often the last resort for families of cats with behavior issues. That’s a big responsibility and how you conduct yourself reflects on everyone in this profession. It’s also very important that you act professionally toward your peers. Sadly, I’ve been the victim of discrediting, envy, and plagiarism, and I’ve also seen it happen to colleagues. When I began my career in 1982 it was a quiet, lonely field. I watched as it grew and was happy to see more opportunities for cats to be helped but now I’m getting more calls from clients who have already been to unprofessional behavior consultants, so-called whisperers and communicators and are now trying to undue the damage.