Cool for cats: Meet the Mission’s own feline behavior specialist

Daniel Quagliozzi wants to help your cat.

Kittens have an enormous power over me. So much power that I willingly BART to Union Square every December, push my way through the packs of tourists and shoppers, and put my nose up to the window of Macy’s to gaze upon them against a seasonal, festive backdrop. I love those SPCA kittens. And I’m not the only one: The SPCA set up a pop-up adoption center at Macy’s for those who want to add a fluffy little addition (dogs included!) to their family. But once that kitten gets out of the fabricated winter wonderland and into your apartment, it might engage in some not so precious behavior. Biting, scratching, pissing on your brand new shoes (my cat did this once–I cried), attacking your significant other…Your kitten is more Stripe than Gizmo and now you’re regretting that adoption. Don’t freak out! Call Daniel Quagliozzi, your neighborhood cat behavior consultant.

Quagliozzi, who has worked at the SPCA as a cat behavior specialist for over a decade, started the Go, Cat, Go! consulting service to help cat guardians deal with these sometime difficult critters. You might be familiar with the Animal Planet show, My Cat From Hell, in which a tattooed “Cat Daddy” named Jackson Galaxy comes and helps distraught owners figure out why their cat is misbehaving and how to help them solve the issue. Go, Cat, Go works similarly except there are no TV cameras and Quagliozzi has “immaculate” hair.

By actually going into the cat’s environment, Quagliozzi can figure out why your cat is acting like a little hellion. For example, one time he was asked to help a cat that was peeing everywhere but its litterbox. When he made his initial visit, he noticed that the cat was immensely stressed out and knew that was the source of its problem. By working with the owners on how to interact with the cat and read its body language, he was able to help both the cat and its owners.

“Cats don’t live to please you, they live to exploit you,” said Quagliozzi. “They don’t come out of the womb knowing about petting.”

If you’re thinking about getting a cat for the holidays, Quagliozzi warns that although cats are easy to take care of, you must be involved with his or her enrichment. In other words, pay attention to your cat! If he or she doesn’t have the right toys, he’ll find other things to lash out on (like your arm). He also offers this gem of cat wisdom:

“Don’t take it personally if the cat does things that aren’t appropriate. He’s not peeing on your bed because he hates you–he’s doing it because his litterbox isn’t up to par.”

6 Responses to “Cool for cats: Meet the Mission’s own feline behavior specialist”

  1. Pete says:

    Is this some kind of joke?

  2. Mike says:

    Daniel came over to assess the situation at my apartment before I moved into a new house and was awesome.

    My wife and I moved in together 4+ years ago. I had two cats and she had one. My two cats ganged up on hers and would herd him around and attack him…especially in the litter box.

    Daniel came over and spent a little over an hour talking about us and observing the cats and came up with a really nice detailed action plan for us. We’ve followed many of his suggestions so far (still need to hang some shelves!) and the results have been pretty good.

    Dragon (the target kitty) definitely thanks Daniel for the help!

  3. fingerbinger says:

    I adore the apartment. Those speakers! Just wow.

  4. Arden says:

    Hi -
    I have watched “My Cat from Hell” and learned many things. I wish that Daniel or Jackson lived in Boston…

    I adopted a 7 year old cat who was given up b/c she peed on things. The people at the shelter thought it was mostly likely b/c they had 2 other cats and one litter box and that she was just very fastidious.

    For the first 6 months I had her, no problems. Then I went away for a weekend. A friend took care of her, but I suspect he did not spend much time with her (she’s very affectionate, loves to be held and petted, will curl up on you, etc). She peed on my bed.

    Since then, this has happened anytime I am away for more than 24 hours. If someone stays over (spends the night with her) while I am away, she’s fine.

    But anytime she spends more than a night w/o anyone in the bed with her, she pees on it. (And she always has someone play w/her during the day when I am away so she is still getting attention.)

    I have pretty much just accepted that this is the way it is – that she is making a statement.

    But if anyone reading this has any ideas or suggestions that could change this behavior, I would be so happy. I love my cat very much, but I would really love it if she could be left alone for a night without peeing on my bed. :(