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 - 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 cerebellum [ed. correction] ... 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 - 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.