Every office has one: a feline fiend, a meow maven, a proponent of purrs – a crazy-cool cat lady. While the PHOENIX mag staff skews heavily cat-centric, nobody is a more passionate devotee of kitty living than our art director Mirelle Inglefield, cat mama to seven furbabies.
Mirelle is a longtime fan of Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and host of Animal Planet's hit show My Cat From Hell. Galaxy squeezed in a chat with Mirelle this morning in anticipation of his appearance with fellow feline expert, MCFH regular and co-author of Catify To Satisfy, Kate Benjamin, tonight at Crescent Ballroom. Benjamin's blog/shop/online magazine Hauspanther earned our Best of the Valley honors this year.
Mirelle Inglefield: Tell me about your first cat.
Jackson Galaxy: I don't know who counts as my first cat... The first cat that I considered mine I was in grad school but I had just graduated and I was heading back to New York and packing my car up and I go outside with an armful of stuff and right in front of me on my doorstep was a little 6-week-old kitten. And I looked up and I grabbed him and said, “What am I going to do with this guy?” And I looked up and there's a sign on a streetlamp that says, “MISSING: 6-WEEK-OLD KITTEN.” And it was right next door, so I took him back and said, “You know, you've really got to be careful – he's little.” She was kind of spacey and said sorry. And then 20 minutes later I go back out and there he is, sitting right there. I took him back again and said, “Listen, you're freaking me out here. There's a lot of traffic.” She was like, “Oh, I'm so sorry.” The third time, he didn't go back. He was mine. He was my first cat, and his name was Rabbi.
MI: How many cats do you have now?
JG: In my house, I've got five cats and two dogs. Outside our house, our feral family consists of another five cats. We're in the process of building them an enclosure. So we've got 10 cats.
MI: Ten cats! I applaud you. What kind of cat food do you recommend?
JG: A raw diet is the best diet for a cat. From there, go to a wet diet, a grain-free wet diet. And then if you can't do grain-free, still do a wet diet. Then the last thing that you do is go to a dry diet. I would prefer you never give your cat dry food.
MI: Wow, okay. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to any cat parent?
JG: Learn cat, you know. Learn it. Learn their life, learn how they operate. Learn who they are, apart from just being a sarcastic dog. It's important that you realize that cats are their own animal and they're fairly domesticated and in order to live a good life with them, you have to meet them in the middle. Meeting them in the middle is getting to know who they are.
MI: Kate Benjamin appears on your TV show My Cat from Hell pretty steadily, and the two of you have co-authored two books: Catification and, most recently, Catify to Satisfy. How did your collaborations begin?
JG: I hunted her down. [laughs] Before the show ever started. At that point, her Hauspanther website was known as Modern Cat and I just saw that she filled a need. In my consulting business I was always telling people to get more cat furniture, acquiescing to the needs of their cats. They were always complaining that cat trees were ugly and cat furniture was ugly, etc. and here comes Kate, demonstrating that you can accommodate for your cat and do it with style, with human style. I just started writing to her. She actually ignored me a few times. [laughs] She'll refute that. And then finally I got her and we met up at a function and I grabbed her and said, “We've got work to do.” And that was it.
MI: That's awesome. I have a cat with advanced kidney disease. Do you have any pointers?
JG: Well, the first thing I would say is never give that cat dry food, ever. I don't care if they say it's a prescription, blah blah blah, never. The most important thing for a cat is that you're putting water through their bodies, and that doesn't happen with [drinking] water. Cats aren't natural drinkers. They should be getting 75 percent of their natural hydration through food, so it's the most important thing. You can go further than that and take that wet food and make a little stew out of it, add water to it. The most important thing you can do is get water going through that body.
MI: This same cat has feline Pica*. She chewed the cover Catify to Satisfy for you. I am guessing it is her way of saying she is a fan.
JG: Cool! I'll take whatever I can get.
*Pica is the term used for the behavior of eating non-food material. The most common material associated with Pica is usually wool such as blankets, socks, jackets, etc., but some cats will nibble on just about anything, from plastic grocery bags to litter. Source: catbehaviorassociates.com
Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin: Catify to Satisfy
November 19 at 7 p.m.
308 N. Second Ave, Phoenix, crescentphx.com
Will-call and seating open at 6 p.m.
To reserve your book/ticket, please call the store at 602-274-0067 or visit the venue at 6 p.m.
Get your daily dose of culture with our curated picks of the best events and experiences in the Valley, from art and music to sports and the outdoors. Culture vultures can sign up for our Things to Do and VIP List newsletters for even more hip happenings.