Play Therapy on My Cat From Hell - Oscar & Riley


Jackson had a lot to say about both Oscar and Riley, the two cats you saw in an episode of My Cat From Hell (season 3, episode 3).  So much, in fact, that broke up his remarks into two blog posts. This is the first, the second one is here.

This one is all about Play Therapy and Rehabilitating a cat out of a fearful association.

The next one will be about Jackson's use of the holistic solutions he helped formulate, at work on these cases.

Let's cut right to it for Jackson's methods surrounding Play Therapy.

First up, Oscar, the Sphynx (guardians Travis and Diane).

What I wound up doing with Travis was, he had grown up on a farm and he didn't know anything but running around watching cats outside.  He didn't have an indoor cat in his life.  So now, not only does he have an indoor cat but it's a Sphynx.  So he has to bathe the cat once a week, and there's just a lot of grooming that goes on with a Sphynx.

But in terms of getting Oscar's energy out of him, I gave him a Ground Prey type toy (designed for the cat who prefers stalking earth-bound prey) to use with Oscar.  And it actually worked perfectly.

It became Oscar's favorite toy, because Travis knew how to play with that.

Next up, Riley (guardians Esther & Vincent).

One of the first things we had to do was make sure hand play was out of the picture.

Esther getting carved up by Riley had nothing to do with anything except the fact that she liked to play with her hands, and Riley didn't know where to stop.  She would get overstimulated and just scratch up Esther.

So we relied on interactive toys (where you are 'attached' or holding onto one end of the toy, actively interacting with your cat), including laser pointers.  Remote toys, too  (remote toys are ones where your cat is playing 'remotely,' that is, independently of you).  No more hands.

Riley also kinda liked to fetch, so we had a little toy box of remote mice that Riley could play with.  But of course Riley didn't like the box, Riley likes to be interactive with people.  So eventually those toys wound up coming out of the box and Esther and Vincent would have them in their pockets and that became distraction toys when Riley was being too wound up.


In the show, you saw Jackson discovered that Riley had been conditioned to become fearful of hands.  Here's Jackson on how they re-conditioned (or as Jackson says, "counter-conditioned") Riley, to make everyone's lives easier.

In order to counter-condition Riley automatic reaction to hands, we had exercises which revolved around positive things with hands, which Vincent totally picked up on.

He would put treats in his hand, and just play y'know, 'guess which hand it's in.'  And Riley would guess and nose around in that fist, and out would come the treat, which was great.