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Jackson Galaxy and one of his cat friends

Jackson Galaxy and one of his feline friends. Image from Jackson Galaxy's Facebook page

We’re so very excited! Yesterday we got to interview the awesome Jackson Galaxy, star of the Animal Planet series My Cat From Hell, whose second season premieres Saturday, January 7 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Ooh, that’s four days from now! Our tails are twitching with anticipation!

But there’s a lot more to Jackson than his TV show. He’s a musician, author, entrepreneur, and a passionate advocate for stray and feral cats. Check out our conversation with America’s favorite cat counselor.

The Paws and Effect Gang: How did you get into working with cats?
Jackson Galaxy: It was kind of accidental. I started working at the shelter because I was working as a musician and I just wanted a job where I could scoop poop and help some animals and not have to deal with office politics. I just wanted to have the least amount of investment into humans as I could so I could keep my head fresh for writing music.

[But] I found myself in this position that I just “spoke cat.” Everyone kind of knew how to deal with dogs, how to enrich their lives and keep them from going cage-crazy, but there wasn’t that much expertise with the cats. In the end you just grab onto whatever you can, in order to save lives — and I ended up being the shelter’s “cat guy.”

P&E: How did you end up doing private consultations?
JG: As I sank into the role of the cat guy and the people who ran the shelter recognized that I was starting to affect euthanasia numbers, their next step was sending me out to help people keep from surrendering their cats to the shelter. Returns after adoptions are pretty frequent, too, so they began sending me out one week post-adoption to help cats settle into their new territory and help the people resolve issues to keep the cats in their new homes.

P&E: What got you interested in working with flower essences?
JG: As I got to the point where I wanted to take my practice public, I was introduced to a great holistic cat vet, Jean Hofve. We met at one of those professional mingling sessions, and it took us 15 minutes to figure out we were going into business together. We launched a website called Little Big Cat, where we do mind-body consulting for cats.

In the process of getting to know each other, Jean explained flower essences and their healing properties to me. I was skeptical. But at that time, we had a terrible outbreak of upper respiratory infections at the shelter – cats on feeding tubes, etc. – so she gave me a flower essence mixture and said “try this.” My volunteers gave it to the cats about three times a day, and the average time in isolation went from 12 days to seven. Nobody’s going to say flower essences made them get better, but [I think] bringing that vibrational comfort to them really affected them.

I started working with Jean on Spirit Essences and eventually bought the company from her. [I use flower essences] in basically every one of my consults. One essence I use every time is Safe Space, for territorial issues and just about every litterbox problem that’s not physically based.

I always want to present holistic modalities as a go-to before we start with the more hardcore pharmaceutical cures. I’m not dead-set against these options, but I feel they force animals into a state, where flower essences allow them the choice to move into that state. This may seem like a lot of “woo-woo,” but maybe it’s easier to take the concept of flower essences from a guy like me.

Jackson Galaxy's cat, Benny

Benny was Jackson's first "cat teacher," so to speak. Image from Jackson Galaxy's Facebook page

P&E: You’ve got a book coming out this spring. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
JG: The book is called Cat Daddy — the subtitle, “My Life with the Original Cat From Hell,” is still under debate. It’s a memoir about how a cat named Benny not just turned my life around but deepened my understanding to the point where I couldn’t have done what I do without him. [Benny had a number of behavioral issues and] every single day I’d be banging my head against the wall with him. I would immediately figure out something about him, go to the shelter and help 12 cats with what I’d learned, and then I’d come home and he’d be doing something completely different. Ultimately it’s about how I had to take ownership of being a grown-up so I could help him.

Cat Daddy is available for pre-order on amazon.com. The release date is May 10.

P&E: So, you’re a musician, too. What kind music, and where can we hear it?
JG: For much of my life I did a lot of solo, acoustic types of things. I started writing songs when I was 11. It’s the only way I’ve ever known how to process emotions. I’m going to do some recording this year and get some music out there. It’s time to get that going again, and I’m totally looking forward to getting back in that saddle.

P&E: Between your consultations, your book and your line of flower essences, it seems to us that you have a larger goal in mind. What’s your big dream of how all of this will come together … what do you want to be when you grow up, so to speak?
JG: I’m already doing it. This is more than I could have ever hoped for. It’s amazing because as a songwriter you trust the process enough that you write, you don’t judge — and sometimes I have no freaking clue what I wrote but it just sounds right. The songs I wrote 15 years ago, the breadcrumbs I dropped for myself, are now coming together in a way that I never could have predicted. I couldn’t possibly be more humbled.

I worked in the shelter system for a long time, I’ve seen things and I’ve done things that the general public is shielded from. My ultimate goal is to work toward a no-kill world. We’re far away from it still, but I think the movement is gaining more steam. No-kill isn’t as sharply divisive as it was when I started 17 years ago. We still have to push the spay/neuter message, the TNR message, and we still have to do a lot of education, but we have to avoid finger-pointing. Anyone who says we can drop everything and become no-kill today is delusional. There are solutions, and if we work toward [no-kill] in a more cohesive way, we can get there.

Thank you so much, Jackson, for taking the time to speak with us — lots of purrs and head-bonks to you!

If you want to keep up with Jackson Galaxy, you can become a fan of his Facebook page, visit his website or follow his blog. And if you don’t have access to the Animal Planet channel, episodes of My Cat From Hell will be available for download on iTunes. (iTunes currently offers the three episodes of Season 1 for $1.99 each.)