In-Depth Mojo: Penny & Tony – aggression and spraying
Here’s some behind-the-scenes commentary on Season 4, Episode 3 of My Cat From Hell.
The cases in this episode involved two different issues.
- The first issue was a huge level of aggression. Penny was literally trying to kill Puck, her fellow house cat. The attacks were serious and vicious, involving blood.
- The second issue was a little less tame, but a lot more smelly. Tony the cat had racked up years of spraying all over his guardian’s office, and habitually trying to mate with a stuffed animal.
Jackson uses what he calls “Cat Mojo” — observing and interacting with cats in order to understand their world and their motives — to help him solve the most difficult cases.
See what he has to say about some really in-depth mojo here…
Penny & Puck
I gotta tell you, there’s not many cases I’ve walked into where I had just missed the level of violence that occurred between these two cats. All it took was the slip of a door and Penny was all over Puck. It was horrible to come in there and see Puck bleeding in a fireplace, 17 years old.
Penny was just absolutely driven to kill this cat. And the interesting thing is that she had experiences with [other] cats before. She wasn’t psyched about them but she didn’t want them dead.
I think it had something to do with the fact that she was moved across the country and dropped off. Rosie just left her there and then went to school. And everyone assumed it would be okay.
It was an interesting case because it was always known that this wasn’t permanent. We just had to make it so these cats could co-exist until Rosie graduated from school.
One thing that you might not know is that the day I got there, I was so appalled at the situation that I was thinking in my head that I might take Penny, fly her to Boston, and bring her to Rosie and try to make it work with her roommates as opposed to try to make it work in their home. Fortunately for everybody it worked out.
As for Tony, obviously a very unusual situation. It really was a case of throwing a lot of solutions against the wall and seeing what stuck.
I would be lying if I told you I understood Tony from the get-go. He was a really complex animal whose behavior had been set in stone for years and years. And I was convinced that he had testosterone in his system, so when he didn’t, I had to throw up my hands and just throw everything I could as a [potential] solution.
It was because we put litter boxes in certain areas that I was able to take a fresh look at the situation. I realized it wasn’t that he liked to pee in outlets; it was that the outlets were facing windows and there was plenty of activity going on outside the home. I blacklit outside, we saw pee all over the outside of the house, so he was “under attack” the whole time. He was in fact trying to protect the territory by peeing all over it, trying to protect Betty by peeing around her office and creating a barrier.
And I also think the sexual behavior was an extension of that…where he would demonstrate his dominance by doing that dance with Dempsey – the Dempsey dance – in the middle of her office. In the middle of that space that, to him, was very highly defendable. And that gave me insight into him and helped us solve the problem in the long run.
A lot of times I may look like I know what I’m doing, but what I’m doing – is throwing exercises, throwing homework, and throwing solutions out at the problem. And when something sticks, then I can start forming a theory about the animal. Before that, sometimes you just can’t assume you know everyone.
And as a matter of fact, approaching a situation (like with Penny, Puck, and Tony) thinking that I know who they are the first day I meet them, is insulting to them. By getting to know their securities, their insecurities, their confidence, their lack of confidence – through exercises – then I get a much better grip on how to approach them.
Tools of the Trade
Here are a couple of tools that relate to the cases presented here. Items that help to make life better for cats and people, too.
These cuddly toys are made by hand in the U.S.A., exclusively for the Jackson Galaxy store.
They’re designed to be “best buddies” with your cat.
Filled with organic catnip leaves and buds, we see cats play with, bunny kick, carry, snuggle, and sleep with them.
Every cat needs a Cat Buddy.
Jackson employs gates a lot, in exercises from site-swapping to reintroductions between animals.
Here’s one he refers clients to.
The width is adjustable, there’s an easy 1-touch release handle to open/close the gate, and it installs quickly with four pressure mounts. No drilling required.