In-Depth Mojo: Kashmir & Riyo – Symptoms vs. Disease

In-Depth Mojo 414 Kashmir, Riyo

Jackson talks about looking beyond the obvious when addressing cat problems.

Animals don’t do things randomly.

And what you think is the problem may just be the symptom, not the source.

Read on for Jackson’s explanations of these concepts, using the cases of Kashmir and Riyo as examples.   Here’s In-Depth Mojo: Season 4, Episode 14.

PLUS – for more, see this companion post about the holistic remedies Jackson used in these cases.

Kashmir eating peacefully with Darla just a few feet away.

Kashmir eating peacefully with Darla just a few feet away.

Kashmir – not random attacks

Basically, I think there were a couple of different keys that we saw with this case.

First of all, there’s never a ‘random.’  Your animal is never doing something randomly.

Kashmir was marking all over their house why?  Because her territory was under attack by a colony of outdoor cats.  One of the things that you didn’t really see in the episode was that Brenda and Dean were letting Kashmir and Darla in and outdoors.  So they would go outdoors, they’d wind up coming back in, and they were getting beat up outside by all the other cats.  Now here’s another interesting thing: it turned out that Kashmir would be staying inside, but they were still letting Darla out.  Darla would go outside, she’d get the smell of the outside cats on her, she’d get back inside and what would happen?  Kashmir would beat her up.  That’s not random.

Kashmir’s sense of impending doom, territorially, informed everything that happened in that home.   Everything.

For instance, another thing that you didn’t see on the show was Brenda saying that they weren’t letting Kashmir in the bedroom because she was peeing all over one side of the bed.  Now that happens to be the side of the bed that I think Dean slept on.  So she thought that was Kashmir saying “I hate Dean.”  When you think about Kashmir’s territorial terror,  then it makes more sense.  It’s not about Dean’s side of the bed, it’s about the fact that Dean’s side of the bed was less than a foot away from the window.  And then you have outside the window, the feral colony, the smell that was so thick in the air of testosterone and estrogen in that air.  So, all of that was stuff that could be taken care of through taking care of the colony outside.

Also with Darla, the other important thing was the building of the cat superhighway, which didn’t get a whole lot of airtime on the show.  But it was pretty freakin’ amazing, and how that helped the high-rise feeding, how that helped the cats be in the same room at the same time without violence breaking out was pretty astronomical.  And it just showed that it is a matter of creating space between the cats so that territory can be shared and knowing that Darla was a down and dirty tree dweller and she was using the tree dwelling to get away from Kashmir now instead of going on top of a washing machine.  She could be in the living room, in the main part of the house, in the socially significant area, with Kashmir occupying a different part of the house.

So these things worked really well.  And even when we left the home, things were back and forth and y’know, problems would start to arise again…all I would have to do is remind Brenda, hey, run over the tools, remember the tools,  and those tools usually helped solve the problem.

Riyo, finally feeling safe to relax with Turbo in their fancy cat tree.

Riyo, finally feeling safe to relax with Turbo in their fancy cat tree.

Riyo – was “totally anti-social”

There’s a couple of stories here.  One is look beyond the obvious.  And the obvious was that we had cats peeing and pooping.

Well, it wasn’t until we get to the house that we realize it’s a much deeper problem and that is that you’ve got a cat that is basically feral, living in this house, who is gone 22 hours a day, never coming out.  If they did see Riyo, it was an accident, and she would freeze, see the two of them (ed. note: guardians Theresa and Arman), and disappear again.

And the fact that these two thought the peeing and pooping around the house and outside the litter box was their main problem just goes to show you that you’re looking at the symptom and not the disease.  And the symptom is feces and urine.  The disease is terror.  And that was what was Riyo’s problem.

Also, we saw that because they were very centered around, hey this is our new condo, our new home, and they wanted to sorta scrunch the cat’s world into a little bitty place, the cats responded with hey we will not be scrunched.  And that’s where again: peeing and pooping around the house.

So literally, the presenting problem was solved the day I got there.  When I came back there, there was no more pee and pooping.  The complaints changed pretty drastically after that.

But besides that, it was really important for them to note that it was almost territorial karma.  If you squeeze the territory of a cat, they will squeeze right back.  And that’s what happened with Arman and Theresa.

Now, the important part about this whole thing is Arman’s turnaround, that Arman went from quote “the guy with the soft landing” – meaning that anytime he could turn around and say, you know what, these aren’t my cats, and I’m going back to my parent’s house where I’m not responsible for anything, – to taking responsibility….

One of the great things you see on My Cat From Hell is that by taking responsibility for the lives and well-being of your animals, that sentiment spreads.  And in this case, it was letting his soon-to-be-fiance – y’know the one he’s moving in with after years of being together – that hey I’m in this for the long haul.  Y’know?  By suddenly saying I’m not gonna go to my mom’s house, you’re not just saying alright I’ll take care of the cats, but doing what we called “The Turbo Swap” (ed. note: Jackson had Arman take on the role of Riyo’s ‘friend and leader,’ which was previously occupied by Turbo the cat.  This was called “The Turbo Swap.”)  Arman also cemented his relationship with Theresa.  He also let her know that I get it.  I will be a parent to these animals the same way I will be a parent to our children.  I will be an equal partner.  And that sends a subliminal message to her, that he’s in it for the long haul, in terms of the relationship.  So talk about a win win!

The in-depth mojo part of this whole thing was that the last day of filming Turbo and Riyo was actually the last day of filming for the season.  And I remember thinking how fortunate and how blessed we were to end the season on that note.  On Turbo and Riyo in that beautiful tree.  Arman really, genuinely turning around, becoming – growing up, really – in front of us.  Becoming somebody ready to take responsibility.  Having those moments where Riyo and Arman bond on the stairs and how that turned into something else.  Seriously, there was not one moment of that – I don’t even want to call it an episode – of that experience, with that couple, that wasn’t huge.  And it’s amazing cause when I go into a case like that, I say well they’re just peeing and pooping.  And that’s fixed in no time flat.  But turning Riyo around – first using the social bridge of her friend Turbo, and then doing The Turbo Swap,  and all of the dominoes that fall from there in terms of the human-to-human relationship, and how the humans feel about themselves – was magnificent and a catapult into the next season for me.

  1. leslie alexander   July 22, 2013 at 5:30 pm  

    LOVED the closing comments of this story as it exemplified love and harmony of cat human world giving and receiving when not fighting against problems but accepting and lovingly dealing with what presents itself!! Energized everyone including our Jackson! GREAT job!!!

  2. Karen K   August 1, 2013 at 6:13 am  

    Why is it sooo hard to contact Jackson about a problem? My ‘new’ cat is VERY aggressive with my own cats as she came from a only 1 cat household. she stays downstairs and mine are up stairs.. I have a split level house. I now have a gate across the landing so neither can go up or down. I found out last night that my cats dont’ use the litter box and just pee on the pillows in the LR cus they are scared. I was now suggested to go and buy Feliway to calm the ‘new’ kitty down and hope they all interact well. I love my cats and don’t want to have to find a home for the ‘new’ kitty… I need help! I used to think u were the greatest watching ‘Cat from Hell’ on tv and emailed you and sent u messages but nothing came of it from your end and i’m very disappointed in you now! 🙁 I just need suggestions as to try something in order to keep them… please help!

    1. ashlee   August 17, 2013 at 7:13 am  

      Be paicient, he is very busy.

    2. Birgit   August 19, 2013 at 6:48 am  

      Karen K,

      I am sorry that you are feeling so overwhelmed, I have been there, not knowing what to do. I am not a cat behaviorist but I can tell you what I did with my cats just from watching Jackson’s TV show and doing research on the internet.

      I have two alpha males Romeo & Mojo that both want to be around me 24/7. Mojo, actually made himself sick because of the other cat, chewing himself, urinary tract infections and stomatitis. Every time I picked up Mojo or went to give him attention he would cry or hiss at me, this broke my heart. I could tell he was very unhappy and I knew I had to do something. I spent over a $100 on rescue remedy and Feliway products, they somewhat worked for a while but then stopped working.

      The two cats, were engaged in a pissing contest, basically marking their territory. Mojo felt threatened by Romeo and Romeo wanted a peace of Mojo. I always had them separated as I was so afraid of them fighting. I would separate them with a screen door but they would go at each other through the door. I was constantly cleaning up urine. I though about finding a home for Romeo several times but every time I just could not bring myself to it. I loved both of them and did not want to give up either.

      I then discovered the “spirit essences” and tried the “ultimate peacemaker” which included three remedies, peacemaker, bully remedy & self esteem with that I also purchased the “safe space for cats”. For Mojo, I would give “safe space for cats” & “peacemaker”, for Romeo I would give “bully remedy” & peacemaker”.

      Around the same time I had come across an article about socializing cats and read about the benefits of calming music. I downloaded several songs from I-tunes and made up a “cat play list”. I started seeing results! Mojo was becoming more of his old loving self, my little boy was still there. Every time Mojo & Romeo met at the screen door I would go over there and talk to them, feed them treats on either side of the screen and praise them. They were within two inches of each other and not wanting to attack each other! I have now put a screen in the hallway and feed them their meal about four feet apart on either side.

      I have made so much progress just from taking Jackson’s advise and doing research on the internet. Please do not give up, those kitties need you. Have patience and be conscious of the energy you bring around the cats because they can feel it. Yes, when I realized this, things started to change. Don’t be angry with Jackson for not replying, he is one person that can only do so much, I know he needs to be cloned! All the best to you and you kitties <3

    3. km   January 16, 2014 at 4:09 pm  

      Not to be harsh or anything, but this is Jackson’s job. He can’t just spend all his time answering people’s questions on the internet for free. Plus, he’s never met your cat or you or seen the environment. He can’t diagnose your cat for you after an email. That would be irresponsible.

    4. Peta   January 16, 2014 at 4:24 pm  

      You new cat feels threatened the the cats who already own the house. Your older cats are protecting their territory. She is aggressive because she is on the defensive. If the cats can meet in no mans land (a place that has not been owned by either cat) there is a chance of friendship. Jackson covers this in many episodes check out the different methods he uses to introduce cats to each other.

      1. Karen   January 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm  

        I dont have a neutral place that the new and old cats can meet. Can u suggest something else? We spend time with both seperately and we have tried to introduce them but nothing works. It’s been 7 months now.

    5. MeowChow   January 16, 2014 at 4:43 pm  

      Feliway can help a little. You also may need multiple litter boxes as they can get territorial. There should be a litter box per cat really but you could have a litter box per two cats. Its possible they are keeping the new kitty away from the littter box and vice versa.
      Put the feliway in communal cat areas. Also, i would suggest having multiple food areas.

      Take time and give each cat affection…

      It can be hard and this will take alot of patience. Once a cat gets spooked it can be tricky.

      Its too bad you cant get Jackson’s help with this but remember he is one person who has thousands of people wishing his advice.

      I hope things turn around!

      1. MeowChow   January 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm  

        I forgot! Are your kitties fixed??? You might want to consider that also!

    6. Gereeen   February 2, 2014 at 5:38 pm  

      I think it would be wise to watch his shows and pay attention to how he integrates new cats into a house that already has a cat or two. It is one of the most common themes on his show. I would suggest that you watch how he “slowly” integrates a new cat, or even “re-introduces” cats to each other who once showed no signs of aggression then all of a sudden aggression developed. You can watch his show on tv, his blog, his You tube, to get some suggestions to help you. I hope something has worked for you seeing as you posted awhile ago, and that you were able to keep all cats. As Jackson would say, “There are no bad cats, they are just misunderstood”

    7. Sonia H- Cook   February 17, 2015 at 3:48 pm  

      I have a one year old kitten had her since she was three month’s old bottle fed her then at six months got her spaded she’s an indoor cat but now she likes to play attacking me and scratch me but not my husband and I’m the one that gets up to feed her spoiled self, why is that Jackson???

  3. Colleen Snuffer   August 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm  

    Hello. I, too, am the very proud parent of 2 very different kitties: one make, Simon Lee, who the youngest of the duo at 3 yrs old, and Moogan May, my 7 yr old black female kittie. I love them both equally as they are my children (I am single with no human children). We’ve lived together in our little one bedroom apt pretty peacefully up until about one yr ago: that’s when Simon, my younger make, started becoming very territorial, possessive, and jealous, almost, of any and all attention I give Moogs! Now, he’s fine during the day time, when I open the bedroom window up for them, as they have always been indoor cats. However, the minute it becomes dark and I must close the window up along with the blinds (I just happen to on the botton level facing the parking lot, which means anybody pulling up would right into my bedroom). Perhaps I should also note that I just found out that Moogs has a food allergy and as a result, it caused her skin to become dry, which caused major dandruff, and threw off her ability to she’d her winter coat this spring. So, I’ve just begun the process of switching them both over to a higher protein, healthier diet (mixed in with their old food the better Iams Healthy Naturals to begin the gradual change). I’ve contending with trying to keep Simon from pouncing on Moogs all night, every night, as well as trying to keep all the excess hair Moogs continues to she’d (brushing, bathing her regularly to help with the process and doing the same for Simon so as not to exclude him from that attention). I’m exhausted, just lost my mother and best friend in June 11th of this year, still grieving her loss, and the 3 of us need a reprieve, guidance because the way I see it, we need one another, depend upon one another, especially now. Please, we’ll take any advice and I’m open minded enough to try anything at least once! Help…SOS…PLEASE!!!

    1. Birgit   August 19, 2013 at 7:36 am  

      Hi Colleen,

      I am sorry for your losses, wishing you peace, love & comfort.
      I am replying to you because I know how desperation feels and I love animals. As I stated above, I am not a cat behaviorist and do not claim to know it all, but I am learning as I go along. I keep an open mind and don’t give up.

      Please read my reply above to Karen K regarding behavior issues. In response to the allergy and food issues, nutrition makes all the difference. It all started about five years ago when an emaciated, injured sick cat showed up in my yard. He was an unaltered, FIV & FelV positive, male tabby. I trapped him & took him to the vet where I was advised to euthanize him. Well I felt different and that’s where my research started.

      Long story short, I started feeding all my cats raw food and have never looked back. Kittynuts was FIV & FelV positive, Ben-Purr had major stomach issue including constipation & irritable bowel syndrome. Romeo had recurring urinary tract infections which cost me thousands of dollars at the vet. Mojo also had Urinary tract infections from stress. Luigi had a long standing back leg injury and was old with arthritis unable to move around with ease. I rarely have health issues, and my veterinary bills have gone WAY down.

      I follow a holistic veterinarian by the name of Karen Becker from Chicago regarding natural & holistic advise as well as nutrition advise. She has a blog site and is also on facebook. There is also a holistic veterinarian in Boca Raton by the name of Russell Swift who has helped my tremendously, I can’t say enough good things about him. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you need to go on raw food but that the food that you do feed will make a big difference. Think about animals in the wild and what they eat, do you see them eating wheat & corn or are they carnivores? A good quality canned food goes a long way to better health. Read the labels on the food, if the first ingredients are “chicken by products” or “fish by products” stay away, they should be real meat with vegetables. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, they most probably are not good. I would not feed my cats anything that I would not eat myself, period.

      By using the Spirit Essences, cat calming music and feeding my cats a healthy species appropriate diet I have been able to make a big difference in their and my life. I hope this info helps and maybe you will find some peace. Love & light to you.

  4. Melissa Fitzgerald   January 16, 2014 at 5:39 pm  

    Hi, I am hoping that Jackson Galaxy will do a show about cats with diabetes. My cat Simba becomes very cranky and he attacks my other two cats when his sugar is high. It would go well with this article and how the behavior is just a symptom of an underlying problem.

  5. Kaci   January 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm  

    Great advice. I just wish I were better at discerning the disease. I keep hoping for an episode of My Cat From Hell that addresses my furry friend’s problems.

  6. Anne   January 20, 2014 at 1:25 am  

    I have a 6 year old cat that loves to lick grocery bags. I put them in my bathroom trash can for a liner. Every time I go in the bathroom there is my cat licky the bag. When I am not in the bathroom I keep the closed. Is this healthy for my cat.? Or just their nature to do it.

  7. Kathypatty   January 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm  

    Really enjoyed reading the additional details of the shows.

  8. soshee   January 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm  

    I have a 5 month old baby and recently my cat has been peeing on all of my babies stuff. So I know it must be jealousy. Today was the last straw for my husband because the cat peed on my sons play pen. He wants the cat gone when he gets home today. I’ve tried giving him away before but I can’t find a home for him and I really don’t want to get rid of him. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    1. Birgit   January 29, 2014 at 5:42 am  

      I am not an expert in the field so I can only tell you what I would do. Your cat most probably feels threatened and/or misplaced by your newborn. I have had urination issues in the past and have had great success with Spirit Essences. The two that I used were, Stress Stopper and Safe Space for Cats. I believe a combination of this and some play therapy would help, it worked wonders for me. Magic in a bottle! I would hate for your cat to be placed in a shelter and be euthanized.

      There are may videos on Youtube with Jackson Galaxy and Spirit Essences, here are two links:

      Also here are links for the Spirit Essences which include a comment section with useful tips.

      Please don’t give up.

    2. Hazel   March 23, 2014 at 6:19 am  

      I’m not any kind of expert, but I think I’d try giving the cat more spaces of his own, so he has more things that belong to him and then maybe he would have less of a territorial problem. I’d figure out where he likes to be and then put shelves or ledges there.

  9. Louise Pace   February 11, 2015 at 1:21 pm  

    I have a year old shelter cat who is great2 months ago we were in a barn and there was a kitten on the ground freezing and no one around except horses. She was terrified.
    They said if you can catch her you can have her. Well, it took me two hours by coaxing her with food..and I got her……since bringing her home she is totally bonded with the other cat..they are inseparable 24/7 Problem, she won’t come to me at all. She is totally terrified. Will she ever warm up? Anything I can do??
    She is suppose to go to he vets again, but we can’t catch her
    Please I am desperate

    1. Kaetlyn   February 17, 2015 at 1:37 pm  

      Hi Louise!

      I too had a very timid cat that used to hide from anyone and everything. The biggest thing to remember is that it will take time for her to trust you. Try coaxing her with treats set down a few feet from you and decreasing the space between you and the treats a little more each time. She will come to you when she is ready! I found that I had the most success around dusk, when kitties are very active and a little bolder. It took a lot of time to get her to the point where I can just walk up to her and pet her, but now she is very trusting and a little snuggle bug. 🙂

      Have patience! I know you can do it!


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.

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