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Mieshelle Nagelschneider, ACCBC, is a cat behaviorist. She has been helping cat owners with behavior problems for more than twenty years, has a regular column on The Animal Rescue Site, and now she brings her expertise to us in a brand new book: The Cat Whisperer (Random House Publishing).
We asked Mieshelle some questions about her work and life, and to celebrate the release of her book, we bring that interview to you.
Mieshelle, what started you on your career as a feline behaviorist?
I began working at a vet clinic twenty years ago. While there, I also started helping cat owners with their cat behavior issues. Desperate for help, cat owners from thousands of miles away began contacting me by phone—once a woman called me from the Humane Society parking lot where she was considering abandoning her cat. It quickly became more than just solving behavior issues – it was a race to save cats' lives from the shelters and euthanization.
During your time studying feline behavior, what has surprised you the most?
How crucial the group scent is in a multi-cat household. It's the social glue that help cats feel affiliated and bonded with one another. Without the group scent they will behave more like you're forcing them into captivity together.
What is the most common behavior people have sought your help for?
Litter box issues are by far the number one behavior consultation I conduct. Urine spray-marking and inter-cat aggression are also very common.
Who was the most influential cat in your life, and can you tell us a bit about what made her (or him) special?
A feral Tabby I had tamed on our farm when I was in grade school. At that age, I thought cats were just so cute and cuddly—like a stuffed animal toy that had come to life. I hadn't yet learned they were also serious predators. One day I saw a little baby bird on the fence in our back yard. He was obviously fresh out of the nest and very wobbly as he tried to balance. I reached out to touch him and the cat suddenly appeared out of nowhere, snatching the bird off the fence from right under my fingers.
I remember feeling angry and shocked at first, thinking the cat was not a good cat—but I later realized that this is what cats do. They are just being cats. That was a memorable lesson in looking at the world through a cat's eyes, and a realization that we can't expect them to be anything other than what they are.
I teach this to my clients—that their cats with behavior issues are not "bad cats" or being "spiteful." They are behaving exactly as a cat would in the environment in which we have placed them.
What do you hope that people will remember the most after reading your book?
That everyone is a cat whisperer and can solve their cat's behavior issues if they remember to see the world through their cat's eyes.
Who is Mieshelle Nagelschneider?
Meet Mieshelle Nagelschneider, ACCBC, a cat behaviorist and author of the science-based cat behavior book, The Cat Whisperer (Random House Publishing). Her passion and curiosity about cats, along with her study in animal behavior, has enabled her to help thousands of cat owners solve their cats' behavior issues for over two decades.
Learn more at The Cat Behavior Clinic!