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The Reliability of Effectiveness:  Virtual Consultations vs. In-home

We are the first cat-only behavior practice in the United States that performs both virtual and in-home consultations with a proven track record of success.  Our cat behaviorist has traveled to Japan and the Philippines (just to name a few countries) to conduct in-home consultations and our veterinarian will also conduct in-home consultations.  However, cat owners who’ve consulted an expert cat behaviorist before are sanguine veterans. They know exactly how and why virtual consultations are effective.  Even telemedicine is finally here for certain human medical issues.  Another real issue is that cats are the most underserved companion animal and this means that compared to dog trainers, the availability of a cat behaviorist in every state is non-existent.  But one of the most frequent questions any behaviorist hears from the first-time client of cat-behavior consulting is just this: “How can you know what to do by phone? Don’t you need to be here?”  Probably they have in mind us installing ourselves in their living rooms for a few weeks, bearing hidden cameras and clipboards!  As with telemedicine for humans, virtual cat behavior help is finally here not only out of necessity, but out of reliability of effectiveness.

We enjoy answering this question more than just about any other. Why? Because the answer contains a great deal of just what cat owners need to understand about their cats, including:

  • you are the one whose behavior we’ll be changing along with your cat’s environment which can include several behavior changing modalities based on your cat’s feline evolutionary biology.  Your cat’s behavior will then be corrected, but long last success can take several weeks.  One of our clients once amusingly figured this out mid-testimonial:

I wanted to let you know Aero is doing just fine so far. She has not gone outside the litter box even once since I (behavior advice removed). I am also (behavior advice removed). Hey! You’re not really re-training the cats, are you? You’re re-training the pet parent!

— J. Jackson, United States

  • there’s nothing we could see in person that we haven’t seen before – or need to see rather than ask you about;
  • house calls do not yield any more information than our carefully refined 12 page feline behavior history questionnaire and consultation questions – and our expertise gained through experiential work as well as university trained in animal psychology and behavior – all honed and refined helping literally thousands of cats just like yours — over the phone (as long as you can follow instructions).
  • Specific photos (and occasionally videos) are requested prior to the consultation.
  • any behavior treatment plan worthy of the name sets aside 2-4 weeks and consists of easy-to-follow, science-based time-tested advice we give you by phone or during your Skype video consultation. Read more about our proprietary C.A.T. Plan™.

The proof is in our 274 Rave Reviews. Almost everyone of our unparalleled number of testimonials comes from a phone and to a lesser degree, video consultations! For people as curious as their cats, we provide more information below.

It’s All About You

The first thing you need to understand is this: with a few exceptions, it is your behavior and the environment you set up for your cat that leads most directly to either problem or cure.  Dr. Myrna Milani, an expert on the principles of animal behavior consulting, affirms: “The nature of the human-animal bond guarantees that all clients are intimately involved in their animal’s problems.” Your cat, a finely-tuned, conditioned member of the animal kingdom, is simply reacting predictably to stimuli you control (in most cases).  That means that in a very real sense, you are the subject of the behavior consultation.  It’s your behavior problem, if you will, that you have created.  We mean that in the nicest way.  Cats instinctively respond to environmental external conditions and stimuli – if something in the environment creates a conflict with your cat, you may see behavior you don’t approve of (but this is still most always normal behavior). The same goes for an environment that is set up correctly or is void of stressful external stimuli – the cat performs its natural behavior, but in a way that is not problematic for you.

Examples: the environment you have set up is the prime culprit for inappropriate elimination and, often, for spraying and aggression.  It’s actually owners who cause behavior problems by unknowingly creating a litter box situations that yield disastrous results; by how, and how often, they play with your cats; by whether they try to punish their cats; by what scents they bring into the house, and much more.

Even the way you clean up after your cats can encourage more messes.  In addition, and in just the right way, or to carry out the critical re-association techniques that we teach.  Your own behaviors may even be inviting and cultivating aggression or yowling, and for treatment, only your behaviors including changes to external stimuli that you can control, can help your cat.  Says Dr. Milani: “The responsibility for making any changes necessary to resolve the animal’s problem lies with the client.”

We’ve Seen It Before

Second, almost all cat behavior problems, and all of the most common ones, fall into a few well-known categories, each with predictable patterns.  That means your cat’s, or cats’, actual behavior is not so “unique” that we must witness it.  Unusual, different, or weird as you think your cat problem is, it falls into one of these known patterns. We’ve seen and heard and solved it before.  That means that when your answers to our Feline Behavior Questionnaire are combined with the give-and-take of the consultation, we are able to quickly and reliably identify the problem, or problems, and all the most likely solutions.  All without seeing your cat.

Third, even if we were to show up at your house (and our behaviorist and veterinarian DO conduct a number of in-home consultations), the odds of catching your cat in the act –

• peeing or pooping outside the box
• spraying
• fighting with another cat
• yowling
• and so on

— are so small and can often make the trip as sensible as a wild-goose chase.

And, again, our seeing the behavior would simply confirm what we already knew: your cat is acting out the same behavior as the thousands of cats we’ve seen before him.  And her.  The specific details you will explain to us in our 12 page feline behavior history questionnaire will enable us to evaluate your cat’s behavior.

Also, we won’t be able to visually see the months (sometimes years) of unwanted behavior from your cat in one visit.  Dr. Milani continues: “The client and other people often serve as the primary source of information regarding the problem.”

Our Efficacy Guarantee:

In fact, if we’ve never heard of your cat’s particular issue, or if we think a full behavior consultation program would not be helpful or appropriate, a consultation will be conducted at no charge.

Real Treatment Plans Can’t Be Implemented During a House Call Because Cat Behavior is Not an Obedience Issue and Change is Not Immediate

Dr. Shultz conducts consults locally and this includes taking medical records for cases that truly need an in-home consultation, or if the owner would prefer to have an in-home consultation.  Even a behaviorist or a vet who does house calls cannot cure your cat during that particular house call.  The reason goes back to the first point above: all cat behavior treatment is ultimately something the cat owner does him – or herself, over a period of days or a few weeks (even 5 years).  Cat behavior isn’t solved like certain dog behavior issues are solved by dog trainers.  Cat behavior is solved through a number of things like changing the environment (external factors) or gradual conditioning, all as advised by us in a comprehensive behavior plan.

We’re By Far Your Best Option

We are the first cat-only behavior practice in the United States and have a proven track record of success.  Also, cats are still the most underserved companion animals at the greatest risk and there are only a few cat behaviorists in the United States or Internationally.  The odds of one being near you are just not favorable.  Why not work with cat behaviorists unmatched in their experience, education, non-reinventing the wheel advice,  274 Rave Reviews, and their success rate?

See why we have more happy clients than anyone.  Or schedule your own consultation today.