Laura Cassiday is a certified cat behavior consultant (CCBC) and owner of Pawsitive Vibes Cat Behavior and Training. Laura is certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She is also a Fear Free certified animal trainer. Laura recently published her first book, The Complete Guide to Adopting a Cat (affiliate link*.) She works with cat guardians remotely from all over the world, as well as in-person in her local area of Baltimore, Maryland. For more information, visit Pawsitive Vibes Cat Behavior and Training.
Do you have a question for Laura?
Leave it in a comment, and she’ll answer it next month!
Today, Laura is giving us a glimpse into what it’s like working with her, both in person and virtually.
There is still a significant amount of stigma around hiring a cat behaviorist or cat behavior consultant. I experience it being one! If I had a dollar for every time I was laughed at or asked, “You can train a cat?” when telling someone what I did for a living, then I wouldn’t need to work at all!
The reality is that this field is growing bigger every day. More people are gaining the skills and credentials necessary to become cat trainers and behavior consultants, and more cat parents are advocating for their cats and recognizing that they deserve the same type of behavioral support as dogs do. It’s easier now than ever before to access a qualified professional to help you resolve cat behavior issues. Even if you don’t have someone you can turn to locally, many cat behaviorists are able to work with you virtually.
I do travel locally around the Baltimore, Maryland area to see clients in person. However, I do about 75% of my consultations virtually over Zoom. This allows me to work with anyone, anywhere! I’ve met with clients all over the United States and in several other countries, including Germany, Japan, Ukraine, and Canada. If you’re skeptical about virtual training for your cat, you shouldn’t be. It does have its cons, but there are plenty of pros that even give it an advantage over in-person training.
Pros of working with me virtually:
- It works better for fearful, shy, and aggressive cats who may become frightened, upset, or angry when a stranger enters their home. Virtual sessions allow us to keep your cat’s stress levels to a minimum.
- It allows me to see clients no matter where they live. Although the field of cat behavior is growing, many people still just don’t have access to anyone local. With virtual consulting, everyone has a qualified cat behavior consultant at their fingertips.
- It’s often not necessary for me to see your cat in order to be able to help her. Although clicker training is sometimes a component in my behavior plans, the majority of what I do does not involve actual “training.” Most of my job includes educating you, the cat parent, how to understand your cat and modify your behavior and your environment in order to set her up for success.
- It’s more convenient! Both of us get to stay at home in our pajamas, and you don’t have to clean your house.
Cons of working virtually
- It’s not always great for people who aren’t tech-savvy.
- It can be difficult sometimes for me to get a good idea about the layout of your house. I tackle that by asking for lots of photos and a video home tour.
- I only see what you show me – so any videos, photos, or live interactions with your cat on the call are all I have to go from. I cannot make my own observations organically.
What’s a first virtual visit like?
Prior to meeting with me, I’ll ask you to send me a completed history form. This is your chance to tell me all about your cat, what’s been going on, and what you’d like the outcome of our session to be. You have the option to book a single meeting with me, or a package, where we will work together over the course of a few months and meet multiple times. First meetings are 90 minutes long, with follow ups generally lasting about 45 minutes.
I ask my clients to send me photos and videos in advance of our virtual sessions. Anything is helpful! Of course, I don’t want you to set your cat up to fail for the purposes of getting a video, but if you’re able to capture something on camera naturally, it helps. Photos and videos of the layout of your home are also helpful, particularly when we’re discussing cats that are urinating outside of the litter box. I definitely need to be able to see your boxes and the trouble areas.
At the start of our session, we’ll go over the details of the situation, including pertinent information you’ve included in your form. We may watch a few videos together if you’ve sent them, and I will ask for clarification or ask any questions I might have. From there, I like to start with the why. Why is your cat peeing on your bed? Why are your cats not getting along? Why does your cat ambush your legs when you’re walking by? If you have a better understanding of why your cat is acting this way, you’ll be better prepared and more understanding when it comes to helping him through this problem.
Then, it’s time for the game plan. What are we going to do about it? My plans tend to be multi-pronged: environmental changes, education about feline body language, clicker training, safety and management strategies – we cover every piece of the puzzle. This takes the majority of our session.
Towards the end of the session, we have a chance to practice any applicable skills. This doesn’t always work – sometimes you need to get supplies, or your cat just doesn’t want to participate right then. If that’s the case, I do my best to either demonstrate with one of my own cats, or at least arm you with plenty of YouTube videos and handouts to support you as you try on your own. Finally, we’ll wrap up with any remaining questions or feedback and talk about next steps. My consultations always include lots of handouts, visuals, videos, and of course, your own customized written behavior plan sent to you after the session.
There are lots of things a qualified cat behavior consultant can help you with virtually. For more information, feel free to contact me at Pawsitive Vibes Cat Behavior and Training. My monthly “Ask the Cat Behaviorist” column is one way I can answer your questions virtually as well. Please leave your comments below and see them answered next month!
*Purrs of Wisdom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.
That’s great you offer your help virtually too.
I do have a sort of problem with Ms. Mida who is going too be 12 yrs old her Birthday is 03/11/ 23. What she does she always manage too pee outside the pan and it is a jumbo cat box I have a towel then a mat on the floor I put the litter pan on top of it and I also clean out the pan 3 or 4 times a day. Then she growls at my 6 yr old cat for no reason at times he starts the problem. When Ms. Mida moved in I had another cat who didn’t mind her she liked him but he passed away 10/21/15 Ms. Mida did moved in with me a friend that had her didn’t know how too treat her so I took her.