In-Depth Mojo: Pip & Autumn – frustration and fear

In-Depth Mojo 406 Pip Autumn

This episode of My Cat From Hell contained great examples of looking deeper than surface appearances, to find the true root of behavioral problems like aggressive cats or cats who won’t stop peeing all over the house.

Jackson was happy to share some really valuable behind-the-scenes info on the cases of Pip & Red, and Autumn.

You can read all that In-Depth Mojo below.

And when you’re done, check out this companion post with more from Jackson about which holistic remedies he used for these cases.

Pip, a one-eyed black cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, and Red, his former victim.

Pip, a one-eyed black cat with cerebellar hypoplasia, and Red, his former victim.

Pip – former frustrated bully

Pip was a really interesting case because approaching the concept of cerebellar hypoplasia, not from a special-needs standpoint and “oh we should feel so sorry for this cat,” but from the standpoint of him being a bully, is something new.

He doesn’t ask for your pity.

He asks for his environment to be enriched.

He asks for his relationships to be enriched.

He doesn’t care about your pity.  And that was a really important lesson to be learned there.

On the other hand, who does deserve your pity is Red, or as he was known in the neighborhood, Cake.  He was so outside the home for the most part, that he was known by another name, which I thought was really interesting.  And they called him Cake because he was sweet as cake.  But in the meantime he was really subject to the horrors of being intimidated by this quote/unquote “special needs” cat.

One of the most integral things we found out about Pip was – and CH (cerebellar hypoplasia) to begin with – it’s of course a condition that can’t be changed, it’s a problem within his cerebral cortex…  But when you slow the thought process down, you also slow the body down.  So by inventing, pretty much, this play mat – what we called Pip’s playground – we also enriched his life in an immeasurable way.  So instead of having toys that fly around, which would actually increase his agitation, we tucked it into the loops of this carpet.  And what that did was:

  • we kept the toy stationary
  • and the cat hunting a stationary object
  • trying to pull it out and play with them (the toys) from the loops of this carpet

Which slowed him down.

Which allowed him to achieve.

Which allowed him to succeed in hunting, when he couldn’t before.

And you saw another cat come out.

Part of, I believe, his aggression came from his frustration of not being able to catch Red.  Not being able to catch his prey. That was pretty intense and it was an amazing discovery and really exciting.

The other component to the Pip story was of course, this thing: Since Pip was being relegated to being a bush dweller, well, then we had to make the house tree-dwelling for Red.  And of course having those two worlds built, and then having points of intersection was really key to re-forming their relationship.

But again, I think the really important lesson here is that approach of these, quote, “disabilities” from a different perspective.  This is not just a pity party.  This is understanding that first of all, his actions were detrimental to the health of another animal.  But also, that it was frustration.  It was frustration leading to this acting out.  Frustration, I believe, about his own condition.  And that is, the lack of ability to succeed in the mojo sense.  And we gave him that ability.

Note: when Jackson says “in the mojo sense,” he’s referring to what he calls Cat Mojo.  The way way a cat sees, and relates, and moves through the world.  For more on this case, see Spirit Essences Report: Pip & Autumn.

Autumn - a young kitten whose spraying put big-time stress on the family.

Autumn – a young kitten whose spraying put big-time stress on the family.

Autumn – formerly fearful and spraying

The case of Autumn was really intense because Erin, a little girl who always wanted an orange tabby female kitten and got one, also got some trouble with Autumn.  The thing that you didn’t see in the show was not only was Autumn’s introduction to the whole home a little off and that’s what caused a little bit of a feeling of threat.  But she never had a problem in the home until she was 6 months old and she escaped the house one day.  And in this really terrifying nightmare of a trek in the neighborhood – where Mom and daughter were trying so hard to find her til 3 o’clock in the morning…she was chased by dogs and cats.  We don’t know everything that went on.  Remember, these guys (Autumn’s human family) lived in the foothills of the mountains.  She could’ve been chased by all kinds of things.  It felt, listening to the story, like a real nightmarish experience.  And from that point on, she started marking around the house.

Her territorial insecurity was fed by an evening of abject terror.  And that’s when this whole thing started.  So it was about re-constructing her home experience based around what she could be secure about.

One of the things you didn’t see in the show was why I prescribed putting a litter box on the counter.  It wasn’t just a matter of “Well she’s peeing up here, let’s let her pee someplace appropriate.”

  • It gave us insight as to what was coming around?
  • What was threatening her outside in the atrium?
  • What was threatening her outside in the backyard?
  • It was about placement of food dishes.
  • It was also about Max, the cat that was chasing her around, actually beating her up a little bit, playing really rough with her.  And she would get up on the counter and pee up there.

We did a very gradual reverse-elevation, I guess, of the litter box from the counter down onto the floor.

I’m never going to prescribe “Hey this is going to solve the problem, just putting a litter box on there.”  Putting a litter box on the countertop is also a little unrealistic to ask  people to do that.  But it did serve a very great purpose.

Autumn is doing fantastic these days.  I just got an update from them a few days ago.  She’s really reintegrated into the house fantastically.  She doesn’t pee around the house anymore.  It’s a really huge success story.  And the stakes were really high.  I mean Erin is a little girl who deserves to grow up with her cat.  One of the things when there’s children involved: it ups the stakes.  There’s not that grown-up reasoning that “we’re just going to work problems.”  All they know is: their friend, their companion is causing all this upset in the home, causing their parents to fight, causing all this upheaval.  And they just known the emotional reality, not the logistic reality.  And I don’t want this girl growing up knowing the loss of a pet because of a behavioral issue.  That’s heartbreaking, and so the stakes were definitely raised on that one and I’m glad it worked out.

Note: for more on this case, see Spirit Essences Report: Pip & Autumn.

  1. Karen Oliver-Paull   May 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm  

    Every time I think I have my cats feeling safe enough that they won’t pee all over the house, someone moves in with a tom cat or just lets them out. We have to replace the kick plate on our door every year or so because they spray the front door. I need to get a few of those motion detecting sprayers to run them off.

    Reply
    1. Betty Young   May 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm  

      I have the same problem. Just when you think you’ve got everyone on an even keel, another neighborhood cat moves into the territory. I did buy a Scarecrow sprayer recently. I don’t know if it’s sprayed any stray cats, but it does work on me! We also purchased an infrared motion detector trail camera (like the deer hunters use) to see “which” cat was coming in and spraying our backyard. Again, the only thing we’ve captured so far is us setting it off, but I’m hopeful that with continued use, we will get some answers. I also took one of our spraying cats out in the front yard on a harness and leash and let Sully “spray away,” which he loves to do in the backyard. Jack, on the other hand, was in sensory overload out in the front yard and didn’t know to spray. He just rolled on the ground here and there. I also want to thank Jackson for introducing us to Fizzion! That stuff is absolutely fantastic!

      Reply
    2. Liz   June 18, 2013 at 3:47 am  

      But then won’t they just spray somewhere else? It seems like that would only move the stress-related behavior or territorial behavior to another part of your home…

      Reply
  2. Shari Josephs   May 15, 2013 at 4:12 am  

    First off I am a big fan of Jackson Galaxy’s and his show…I also like his sollutions to his clients behavior problems. The reason I. Am contacting you is on the most recent episode Jackson suggested a special product to elliminate urine odors on carpet and counter tops I did not understand what product or type of cleanser he referred too..I have 3 Geriatric cats two have intentionally started urinating in one specific area I need a better product to eliminate the temptation to repeat…my eldest female sometimes has trouble stepping into her litter box when she is in the other room I’m trying to make this easier more litter boxes I think. Please let me know your suggested cleanser mentioned in this episode…or if there is a better remedy I thank you for your kind attention and your wonderful show you are a wonderful humanitarian. By the way my cats are 15 oldest female PuffBall, Feisty 14 Male and their daughter Shana Madel 13 in July. Thank you again.

    Reply
    1. Team Cat Mojo   May 15, 2013 at 7:33 am  

      Hi Shari,
      The cleaner you probably saw Jackson referring to is called “Fizzion.” You can learn more about it and get some on Jackson’s website: http://store.jacksongalaxy.com/SearchResults.asp?Search=fizzion&Submit=

      Reply
      1. Colleen   May 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm  

        FIZZION works great!!!!! your cats esp geriatric ones need to be checked for urinary tract infections or anal gland problems to rule out medical issues with peeing around the house. have the litter boxes in a place comfortable, quiet and convenient for the cat (not you). Some cats feel they need an escape route and won’t use covered boxes. Just having another cat watching them in the box can feel threatening and cause them to go elsewhere. Also, for old cats they need to be able to step in easily. get a tub and cut it low enough in front they can step in, but still see out. Cant do not urinate intentionally to annoy you, there is a reason they stop using the box. It’s up to you to figure out what is going on and make those changes, which can often be minor changes with big results.

        Reply
      2. mindy   May 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm  

        I signed up for the blog/email…but can’t seem to figure out how to ask a question…unless I go to his FB page. Call me internet socially illiterate…(I resemble that remark)…but I do have a spraying issue to ask about.

        Reply
    2. Caroline   May 15, 2013 at 7:35 am  

      Shari,

      I believe it was Fizzion Pet Stain & Odor Remover. You can purchase on Amazon.

      Reply
    3. Don Amber   May 16, 2013 at 10:55 am  

      Hey Shari – had a similar issue recently with a very elderly kitty who was no longer able to step up into his litter box. On a whim, my spouse bought a puppy training “box” from our local big-box pet store. It’s a solid plastic floor mat you can clamp a puppy training pad down on top of. The sides were low enough to allow our cat to step into it easily, and the training pad offered enough traction that he was able to squat and do his business without slipping or falling over. Sounds weird, but it made a huge difference in his quality of life — and ours!

      Reply
    4. Betty Young   May 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm  

      The cleaner I use, which we got from Jackson’s show, is Fizzion. It is a carbon dioxide based cleaner that won’t hurt the cats or your furniture, clothes, etc. It comes in small tablets to use in spray bottles or you can get a mini tub of big tablets to use in the laundry. It is fantastic stuff!

      Reply
  3. Sharon Mills   May 16, 2013 at 4:38 pm  

    Another good product I found at my vets is Urine Off Odor and Stain Remover. I was fostering an older male cat whose owner had died. He sprayed everywhere in my, house,
    And had emotional problems, only Jackson could solve. After he was gone to a new home, I bought the Urine Off, and it was terrific. It certainly saved my house!

    Sharon

    Reply
  4. sue   May 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm  

    I just want to say that my 22yrs old son and I enjoy the show very much. We have a Maine Coon and Tuxedo cat. The Maine Coon ‘Friskie’ is 10yrs old, and the Tuxedo ‘Hermoine’ is about 3yrs old. They get along ok. Friskie stays in my room mostly with her food dish and litter box. She sleeps with me almost every night. Hermoine stays out in the living room at night with her food and litter box. Sometimes I think that Hermoine likes to aggravate Friskie-kinda like a child bothering their mom. They both crack me up and we love them very much!! Even when I felt very down, Friskie would climb up on my bed and start licking my arm or hand. Im glad I have them both!

    Reply
  5. Lisa   May 25, 2013 at 10:19 am  

    He doesn’t answer emails and questions? I think if Jackson cannot communicate with regular cat families to help us, then he’s really not doing a great job. Obviosly I respect him or I wouldn’t be trying to communicate about our problem. But if that’s not possible, then watching the show is just a crap shoot that my kitties’ problems will be addressed. He could have a few”Jackson helpers” who understand cat mojo dedicated to answering questions here or by email. I’m very disappointed in coming here to find out that he is the consumate problem solver, but doesn’t even try to come up with a way to help people and their fur kids because he’s too busy making money. Although I would love to have our family benefit from Jackson’s gift with kitties, I’m going to unsubscribe from emails trying to sell me stuff and go to an internet person who will share with advice for us. Just my opinion.

    Reply
    1. Team Cat Mojo   May 26, 2013 at 11:43 am  

      Hi there Lisa,
      I’m sorry you feel that way. If you’re interested in hiring a professional animal behaviorist like Jackson to consult with you, you can try checking out this directory of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. http://iaabc.org/consultants
      Hope that helps! Thanks, Toast

      Reply
      1. Lisa   May 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm  

        Thank$, it doe$.

        Reply
        1. Carla   January 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm  

          So, the guy has THREE full-time businesses. He honestly acknowledges he doesn’t have time to pretend to be a facebook-style pop psychologist. He honestly admits he doesn’t want a misunderstood sound-bite answer to be misapplied. He is interested only in making sure the patients get REAL care, from someone who CAN meet them, IN THEIR HOME, the ONLY place an HONEST appraisal can be made. And you are whining because it might require an equal investment from you. Yeah, well, little Miss It’s-All-About-Me, sometimes Life requires you to do more to earn your ‘gimme-my-due-credits’ than sit on your butt in front of the TV, or at your keyboard. If your pet isn’t ‘family enough’ to qualify for the same care you’d offer a child, then you just aren’t ‘family-enough’ to qualify as a pet guardian, and you need to surrender the cat to someone who will. Not all cat guardians are rich, not by any means, but there are plenty of groups online and offline, and those truly interested in helping their cat have no problem exploring all avenues available. Instead of pouting when they snap their fingers, and no one asks, ‘How high?’.

          Reply
    2. Hami   December 23, 2013 at 4:09 am  

      Very often, I can’t seem to remember what techniques were clearly used in each episode. The show focus more on dramas than what techniques were clearly used. It’s like watching soap operas.

      If the show focus more on explaining the techniques that were being used instead of the constant flash backs and dramas, then most people might be able to learn better and be able to apply to their own cats’ situations.

      Reply
  6. Lora Kinney   August 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm  

    I have watched the show and read many of the pertinent topics about marking and territorial issues, but I’m still having a hard time deciphering what it is that makes my older cat mark around our home. I believe it could be numerous things and haven’t a clue where to start. The big problem we are now faced with is the fact that soon we will be moving into an apartment and we really cannot afford to take her with us because of her marking/urination. I have considered giving her up only because of this. I love my cat and will try to keep her, if possible, but I am limited. I have so much more info to give than I could fit into this comment, but I would love to get some feedback on how my “special cat” could be a great fit for us again.

    Reply
  7. Monique   August 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm  

    Dear Jackson,

    One of my two 17-year old cats will pee on my pillow every now and then. She hasn’t in a very long time but did so early this morning and now I’ll be living in terror because I never found out what it is that triggers that behavior.

    She has a vet checkup tomorrow and I’ll be sure to ask. For now, I have to lock her out of the bedroom though there is a loft that connects my bedroom to the living room where her litter box is, so she jumps up there yowls early in the morning. Once she even launched herself onto the bed.

    This cat is the hardest to figure out. She is fat from getting too much food but if she doesn’t get more she pees or yowls. She likes drinking from the faucet and I think what triggered this morning’s “statement” is I was sound asleep and didn’t get up to turn the water for her.

    I have tried to play with her to keep her amused but she isn’t really interested some days. She is old so I don’t like letting her outdoors. There are coyotes, fisher cats and other predators out at night and even during the day. Of course, she doesn’t realize this.

    I clean her litter box twice a day. She gets fed twice a day and I leave dry food out in between canned food feedings. I don’t know what to do, but washing bed linen or getting sheets, pillows and a mattress ruined, and being unable to have a good night’s rest are just not acceptable. Any advice would be most appreciated.

    Reply
  8. Jennifer   November 5, 2013 at 11:40 am  

    While my cat doesn’t spray his pees comes out backwards, like he is spraying, when he is in the litter box! He won’t go all the way in and only sits on the corners. Sometimes it gets in and sometimes it doesn’t! I have put down doggy pads under the litter box but those are worthless. Any suggestions? I am tired of cleaning up pee everyday I clean their litter box!

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Colleen   November 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm  

      Its obvious your cat either doesn’t like the feel of the type of litter you are using or the box isn’t clean enough. If its a covered box take the lid off, get a high sided bix try different litters until problem resolved. I have two “vertical” peers who stand to pee in the box they don’t squat. High sides and a litter they like (kept clean) solved issues.

      Reply
  9. Laurie   December 7, 2013 at 8:20 am  

    Hi I also have 2 elderly cats & my 1 female cat (21) is urinating around the house. She’s diabetic & on insulin twice a day & also on an oral medication for hyperthyroid. She’s just finishing up a liquid antibiotic but that doesn’t stop the problem, just decreases it a little.
    Since they started the oral med for her thyroid issues, she’s much more alert & is able to jump up on the chair again to sit with us.
    She doesn’t seem like she’s confused since she’s been on the insulin (a little over a year.)
    She’s still the dominant cat over my 19yo male.
    I work from home & constantly have to keep an eye on her & walk her out to the garage to her boxes. I keep them clean & there’s 3 of them. Nothing new. She defecates in the boxes & doesn’t have a problem getting in them.
    She doesn’t pee in 1 particular spot but has wrecked a hardwood floor.
    She does have some renal issues but it’s not bad enough to go on the subque fluids.
    The last few days she’s been running away from me when it’s time for her pills, insulin & antibiotic. The antibiotic will be done in a day or 2. I think she feels the tension in the house from the urinating.
    This isn’t new; she’s been doing it the last year or so, but the last few months it’s been increased.
    My house is spotless & I hate to see it get wrecked or smell.
    My husband loves her but wants it to stop before we gave our Xmas eve get together. He’s afraid the garage floor is being wrecked from her constant peeing all over the floor. I’ve tried the pheromone spray.
    I need help right away because if it doesn’t stop, she’ll have to be put down. I’m heartbroken. I know our other cat won’t last long withour her. She gets plenty of attention; I comb her every day & we both cuddle with her. It’s just me & my husband in the house.

    Reply
  10. Megan   February 27, 2014 at 10:43 am  

    My old 16 year old cat would go in the litter box and urinate standing up. All over the wall and floor. The vet said it was probably his arthritis but he could sit down everywhere else. Anyway he suggested hooded litter boxes. Now I have 2 hooded and one not and he was been doing just fine.

    Reply
    1. Colleen   February 27, 2014 at 10:51 am  

      I have two young cats that are and have always been “vertical” pee-ers. They stand to pee yet squat to poop (no arthritis) so i use high-sided litter boxes and one large tub wuth a “u” entrance cut in so they don’t pee over the sides or on the walls. Some cats just are that way!

      Reply
  11. Becky E.   September 2, 2014 at 8:46 pm  

    I adopted two cats from a shelter not quite 2 years ago. Mama Cat is now about 12 and Lovey is around 6. Lovey is a very lovey-dovey kitty, thus the name. Mama Cat likes to be close to you, but not petted much. When I first brought them home we had a dog and Mama Cat didn’t come out much. I had one litter box and used a clumping litter. They both used the same box, but then Mama Cat stopped using it. She would pee and poop all around the box, but not in it. I took her to the vet. She did have a UTI, but we treated it and she doesn’t have the UTI any longer. I moved the litter box into a room separate from where they ate. I changed to a non-clumping pine-type litter. I now use the Breeze Litter System, and we have 3 litter boxes in 3 separate areas of the house. When I set up the 3 boxes I shut Mama Cat in the office with one box for 2 days (with food & water), and she still didn’t use the box. Lovey continues to use the litter box in the bathtub in the hall bath and occasionally pees in the box in the office. Mama Cat pees on a diaper pad beside the office box and poops on the floor beside the office box. (I put the diaper pad on the floor to keep the floor from being ruined.) The 3rd box is unused. Why is Mama Cat not using a box and do you have any suggestions for what else I can do?

    Reply

We regret that Jackson does not answer questions posted in the comments. This is due to his demanding schedule and the high volume of requests he receives. But most importantly, since he has not met your cat, it would be contrary to his approach for him to give specific personalized advice for your specific situation. That being said, general questions and issues are addressed throughout this blog, in his book Cat Daddy and of course, the show My Cat From Hell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>