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.”