On Season 4, Episode 4 of My Cat From Hell, Jackson faced some incredible "firsts" in his career as a cat behaviorist.
This episode dealt with almost literally "wild" cats. Cats who were near-feral, or who had issues in a domestic setting as a result of their history in "the wild."
- How can you go about 'taming' a near-feral cat like Buddy? (A purebred Scottish Fold who had previously been abandoned.)
- What kind of attitude helps when working with such an aggressive cat like Kali? (Who was constantly attacking her fellow house cats Godzilla & Tokyo.)
The following transcript of Jackson's thoughts on Buddy and Kali contains valuable behind-the-scenes info and answers both those questions.
Of every case I've ever worked in my life, this one pretty much takes the cake.
I've never worked with a cat who was:
- tried to be reclaimed
- all but feral
- and working with a woman who would stop at nothing to make him a part of her family
The mixture was combustible at times for sure.
When I had to make a decision about the status of his life or death, that was a first as well.
Buddy will remain to me, one of the most special animals I've ever come across, because he carried his entire history in his eyes from the first time I met him.
He had been abandoned. Before his abandonment, I can guarantee he was abused, judging by his absolute distrust. He was hit by a car, dragged down the street, put back together again, almost barely. FIV positive...all his other health challenges.
And yet the outcome is so unbelievable to me, still.
To see updates of Stephanie and Buddy together.
To see the commitment of Bob in this whole story was just so incredible to me.
Buddy's re-entry into the world of being a companion animal is one of the things I'm most proud of being a part of.
The biggest challenge with Buddy was to actually get him in the house.
What you didn't see in the show was the entire concept of what I would call "red carpeting" him into the house.
He was not ready to use a cat door, so we had the cat door open and leading directly into a tunneling area that we built underneath a table.
And really, another thing you didn't see in the show was that there was a junkyard across the street and that's where Buddy would choose to spend all of his time. So I went over there at night and just explored the area itself and saw y'know, exactly what makes a cat like Buddy attracted to that area, which is tight spaces. Which is a no-brainer in terms of feral behavior, but that's why he kept choosing that.
So I wanted to make sure that when he came into the house it was never too overwhelming. So the "red carpet" treatment led him first to his food right by the door and then there was sort of just this 'invitation' underneath that table -- through tubes and whatnot -- that eventually just deposited him out into the living room. And that method worked perfectly.
Again, we had to tempt him through that area, where there was always that assurance that he could be enclosed until it was his choice not to be. We just made it so that the obvious choice was to be uncovered and part of the world, and that worked really well.
I think one of the most important things about Kali is to remember her story.
Every cat has a very specific story, just like every human, or any other species, has a very specific story.
And with Kali, the reason she was so "anti-cat" was not just because she didn't like Tokyo and Godzilla's face. She had a history. And that history -- from what I decided from the evidence and a little bit of imagination -- was that she was a dumpster cat.
About Dumpster Cats
Dumpster cats and ferals in general are gonna be really heightened about their food source and their protection of their food source.
Other cats in that particular [dumpster cat] arena are not your friends. Especially if you're just going into dumpsters, you're just trying to get food. So when it came to reintroducing Kali, Godzilla and Tokyo using food, you couldn't have picked a more volatile way to do it.
And the fact that these cats succeeded in learning how to trust again, or learning how to trust for the first time, even if those steps were tentative, were pretty impressive.
Angela and Gloria made a commitment when they adopted Kali, to keep her with them. And it was a hard commitment to keep. And as it was, when I left these guys, they had really only cleared a couple of hurdles, and I'm sure there are more to clear, but I was proud of the work they did.
(For more on Buddy & Kali, and how Jackson used holistic remedies in both their cases, check out this Spirit Essences Report.)