I was fortunate to have the chance to talk to Jackson Galaxy during his visit to Global Pet Expo. Jackson is a cat behaviorist best known for his hit Animal Planet television show My Cat from Hell. He is also author of two books, Cat Daddy and Catification.
Q: What was missing from the market that you wanted to create with your product line, the Jackson Galaxy Collection by Petmate?
JG: Well everything’s missing. Honestly, cats have been so underserved, and all I’ve been doing for twenty years is collecting information and talking about what is missing in people’s homes. Working with their cats saying, “Why don’t we have this and why don’t we have that?” and really all I was waiting for was the right partner.
Petmate not only jumped on board but gave me free rein. Not only are we putting out what I think are really quality products and innovative products but I get to test them out and take them on my show and revise them. I’m working on new versions of everything at all times. The great thing is that Petmate provides the malleability for me to continually reinvent what I do, because the cats give me the information and I want to give you that information. So that’s really all I was waiting for. And you know, I’m really proud of what we’re doing.
Q: So are those toys what fill up your guitar case? What’s in that guitar case, anyhow?
JG: The guitar case is toys, is food, it’s black lights, it’s, cleansers. What else is in there? My lunch… Tons of stuff. You know, everything but a guitar.
Q: So that’s what you do in your spare time?
JG: That’s funny. Spare time!
The funny thing is that all I did for thirty years was play music and then work with cats. Now I work with cats and then play music. But free time has been not quite forthcoming.
Q: Have you been finding time for your music?
JG: No. We just wrapped the sixth season a couple days ago and now it’s about time to make that music so people don’t think I’m a charlatan.
Q: So when are we doing to see an album?
JG: It’ll probably come more in the form of songs you can download from iTunes. I don’t have the time to record ten songs, but I definitely have time to record two or three.
Q: You have a new foundation. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
JG: The Jackson Galaxy Foundation just got our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status which I’m more than psyched about. The objective is to take all of the years of shelter work I’ve done and apply it to the shelters that need help. And it’s not just about shelters, it’s about everybody who works for sheltered animals. But that could also mean feral cats, it could mean rescued farm animals. It’s an equal task we have here.
We can reach our no-kill objective. We’re in the home stretch, I think. When I started in this world twenty years ago, we were killing in the neighborhood of thirteen million animals a year in animal shelters. We’re down to about 3 or 4 million. We’re still in the millions, but we’re in the home stretch, and I believe that my foundation can help shelters adopt more cats first and foremost. I can help shelters get their cats into good homes, and get them adopted in a way they will stay in those homes. The work that they’re doing, that’s really the important thing.
Nobody gets how hard it is to work in an animal shelter or in a rescue or be a feral trapper. Nobody gets it. I want to be able to recognize these guys and reward out of the box thinking. Listen, I wouldn’t be here if my boss in my shelter didn’t say, You want to go to people’s homes and make it so those cats don’t come in here? Go for it!” If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have this career.
I want to pay that back and I want those folks to be able to make a living — a good living — out of doing what’s best for animals. There’s a misconception that just because you want to give your live to animals you have to life to animals you have to take a pledge of poverty. You don’t have to make that choice. You just have to take action, and we want to reward that.
Q: So what’s next for you?
JG: We’ve got a bunch of stuff. Right now, the foundation takes center stage. Getting that off the ground, staffing it, making sure that’s ready to go. I’m writing my next book right now. I’m writing my next book, and the followup to Catification will be coming out for the holidays this year. It’s called Catify to Satisfy. That’ll be fun!
I’m working on a one-man show. Not really a speaking tour as much as it is a theatrical event around cats, and that should be fun, hopefully again that will be coming up.
I’m always doing shelter visits, so chances are that’s where you’ll see me. And who knows, maybe we’ll be filming more Cat from Hell, maybe not. But there’s more TV projects in the works.