Maestro of cat mojo

Cat expert Jackson Galaxy never assumes that he knows all about feline behaviour

8Q

“Cat Daddy” Jackson Galaxy is excited to be coming back to Singapore to conduct seminars at the Pet Expo later this month.

“The reception that I received here last year blew me away. It’s more than what I usually get in the United States,” says the 49-yearold cat expert, speaking to The Straits Times in a telephone interview from his home outside of Los Angeles.

“I think the (cat lovers’) scene here is really vibrant. People are very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and really want to know more. That’s why I can’t wait to be back.”

Last year was his first trip to Singapore and he gave talks at The Star Vista as part of American television series My Cat From Hell’s Asia tour.

Galaxy, who was born Richard Kirschner, hosts the series, which features him making house calls to help pet owners resolve their issues with their ill-behaved cats.


From a young age, Jackson Galaxy wanted his looks to stand out. He pierced his ears at age 14. PHOTO: ANIMAL PLANET

At the Pet Expo, he will share his secrets of  “catification”, which is about creating a stimulating environment for cats that also works for humans, and also impart “cat mojo”, about nurturing confidence to solve the most common cat behaviour issues.

  • BOOK IT /PET EXPO 2016

  • WHERE: Singapore Expo Hall 7

    WHEN: March 25 to 27, 11am to8pm

    ADMISSION: $4 for a one-day pass, $10 for a three-day pass, free entry for children below 12

    INFO: petexposg.com

When he is not filming My Cat From Hell, which will be back for a seventh season, he is busy fielding media interviews and working on new books and shows. He also has projects with his Jackson Galaxy Foundation, which seeks to better the lives of at-risk animals. He is married to animal rescuer Minoo Rahbar, 47.

1 You own cats and dogs. If you could choose only one or the other for a pet, which would it be?

I would never make that choice. I don’t get it when people say, “I’m a cat person” or “I’m a dog person”.

Cats and dogs both offer love and trust, just that they are opposite sides of the same coin – cats make you work for their affections, while dogs give it to you on a silver platter.

2 Why did you change your name from Richard Kirschner to Jackson Galaxy when you were in your 20s?

Because I could. I find it funny that we have the ability to call ourselves anything we want.

For a good 30 years before I did what I’m doing now, I was very into the concept of being a rock star and my given name just never felt good. My parents strongly disagree with that, of course.

I named my first guitar Jackson and a friend of mine did a drawing of my guitar floating through the galaxy. I liked it and then, boom!, I changed my name.

3 In your show, My Cat From Hell, you are seen carrying a guitar case filled with cat toys on your home visits. Why that gimmick?

People think it’s a gimmick, but it’s not. It’s just habit.

In the past, when I was working as a cat consultant, I would drive around doing home visits with cat toys and other items in my hands. It got to a point where there were too many things to hold.

Since I was also a musician then, I had a guitar case in my car. I took the guitar out and it was the perfect fit for all the cat items.

When they discovered me for the show, the guitar case followed.

4 How did you get your current signature look, which includes a beard, tattoos, rings and earrings?

Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to stand out. I am fiercely crazy.

I love it that I’m turning 50 next month and I have not grown old gracefully.

I was 14 years old when I pierced my ears and I would make my own earrings from gumball machine toys.

I’ve had my beard for a long time. At one point, it was all the way down to my chest.

With marriage, there have been some concessions. I promised my wife I would trim it down and I did.

It’s a normal person’s beard now – just about three (7.6cm) to four inches long. I’m playing with it right now.

5 How have you been coping with your drug, alcohol and food addictions?

I’m an addict – it’s a biological drive to do too much and to be self destructive.

In 2005, I was at my heaviest at 400pounds (180kg). It was the closest I ever got to dying. My food addictions landed me in hospital, I did something about it and I’m at a weight that I’m happy with now.

The other addictions are more recent, but I’m working on a programme and there’s a community around me.

I’m an addict in recovery. I never take anything for granted. This is something I’ve to work diligently at. Anything could trigger me.

6 What principle do you hold on to?

Never embrace stereotypes. Never assume. That’s just going to mess you up. Just because I’ve known 100 times that a cat will always be like this and I think I know what’s going to happen – that’s the day I wind up bleeding.

Cats do not allow you to rest on your laurels. Working with animals always keeps me humble.

7 Are you friends with celebrity dog expert Cesar “Dog Whisperer” Millan?

No. We’ve met once, but we don’t hang out or anything.

8 How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who sought to give animals the same dignity that humans have for one another. It’s a nice goal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Maestro of cat mojo'. Print Edition | Subscribe