Book: Catify to Satisfy

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Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, a.k.a “Cat Daddy,” star of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, has joined Kate Benjamin of the popular cat design website, to write a book “Catify To Satisfy: Simple Design Solutions for Creating a Cat-Friendly Home.” Galaxy and Benjamin will discuss their book.

TED SIMONS: Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, also known as Cat Daddy, star of Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell," has joined Kate Benjamin of the popular cat design website to write a new book, "Catify To Satisfy: Simple Design Solutions For Creating a Cat-friendly Home." Anyone with feline friends knows that a cat-friendly home is a happy home. Here now are Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin. Good to have you both here. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon."

JACKSON GALAXY: Very good to be here.

TED SIMONS: Oh, my goodness. This is an interesting -- it's kind of a collection of ideas regarding how to turn your home into a nice place for cats.

JACKSON GALAXY: Yeah, and it's actually the second collection. The first collection we did last year called catification, the second that book hit all of a sudden people are shooting us letters and e-mails saying look what I did! Look what else you could do and this came about.

TED SIMONS: Can you create a cat-friendly home that's still a nice home, that doesn't look like it's overrun by cats?

KATE BENJAMIN: That's exactly what we want to show people. What we did was we put together a whole bunch of examples from people who have done exactly that. So we want to show you you can actually put in all of those things that the cats need but it doesn't have to look like the crazy cat lady. It can be integrated with your style.

TED SIMONS: I want to get to photos but you write about base camps and sign posts and cocoons. What are you talking about there?

JACKSON GALAXY: I'm talking about a lot of stuff. But base camp, the idea of base camp, cats define their -- what I call their cat mojo, their security, their confidence, they define that by ownership of territory and the way they do that is they soak their scent into things. Lay on something, it smells like them, they've got their mojo. You take a room, you put a bed in there, you put a scratching post, litter boxes are sign posts, you know. And those territorial sign posts, put them in one room, that room is base camp. If they're feeling a little scared, hesitant, that's where we start. And if they can find mojo in one room, then out comes all the scent soakers into the rest of the house and they own the whole place. So a sign post, the way I explain it is if you've got on your mantle, you've got all these framed pictures, high school graduation, wedding, all those, and every time you walk by those pictures and you sort of adjust the frames, you get that pride, you know, this is my life, I own this. Cats have the same thing when they put their scent into something and every time they walk by it, it's like they're straightening the frame of the picture and say yes, I own this and they feel pride.

TED SIMONS: A lot of people every time their cats walk by the sofa all of a sudden the cat has a sense of pride in the sofa, which is not necessarily a good idea. As far as scratching is concerned, how do you have a nice house with nice furniture and nice cats?

KATE BENJAMIN: Well, the key to scratching is choosing the right type of scratcher, we're looking at both materials and the angle that they're scratching at, and it's all about placement. So you really have to look at where you're putting those scratchers in your home and you want to place them in the most socially significant places so right by the sofa or near your bedroom, places where you spend the most amount of time.

JACKSON GALAXY: And I mean, one of the things that's so important for people to realize, it is a compliment. When your cat walks up to the couch and scratch, of course it's a back-handed compliment, but what they're doing by putting their scent and their marker there, they are complimenting your scent. Your scent is strongest at that couch and your bed, they are saying you and me, we co-own, you know what I mean. That's a compliment.

TED SIMONS: They're wondering why you're not scratching it, too.


TED SIMONS: We have an example of like a wall placement, which actually doesn't -- that doesn't look bad, that looks almost like a wicker design or something.

KATE BENJAMIN: I love that one. This is something that was submitted by one of our readers and it's a really easy D.I.Y., she did a beautiful job. There are five pieces of carpet that she placed on the wall and made all that molding to fit them in with her decor. This is a great example of something that you might not even notice it was for the cats but it gives them what they need.

TED SIMONS: And another example of just one square, which is maybe a small -- and there's Mr. Wonderful doing his business there but that doesn't look bad.

JACKSON GALAXY: No of course not, and that's the whole point. You don't have to sacrifice your esthetic to make your cat happy. Folks don't get more cats because they're afraid people are going to walk in their house and say a crazy cat lady lives here and it doesn't have to be the case.

TED SIMONS: As far as litter boxes, provided they use the litter boxes, most cats seem to, although you've dealt with some. Can you have litter boxes around house and not have that smell and that look?

KATE BENJAMIN: Well, this is a place where Jackson and I sometimes butt heads. He will always advocate for open litter boxes, not enclosing them. But there are a lot of people who are really going to fight that. So what we've done in the book is we've shown lots of examples of how to compromise, how to create an attractive litter box enclosure but you have to think about certain things like making sure there are two entrances, so nobody can get ambushed inside and think about placement of the litter boxes.

TED SIMONS: This is a piece of furniture that if you walk by that and don't think too hard, you would never know that's a litter box.

JACKSON GALAXY: That's the point. Again, we butt heads, I figure if you've got cats, you should own up to the fact that you have cats, it's okay to have a litter box.

TED SIMONS: But that's pretty nice looking.

JACKSON GALAXY: It's fine, it's fine. And, you know, as we resolve our head butting by saying as long as it serves the function and the form that's fine.

TED SIMONS: You talk about how the cats want to be part of you and they like where you are and what you do, we have a shot of a bathroom in which -- I mean, it's a bathroom in all ways. Look at that, I know what's going on underneath that sink.


TED SIMONS: That's not bad.

JACKSON GALAXY: No, it's not bad.

JACKSON GALAXY: I actually -- that's one I really like a lot, too. And that's like a real -- that's a caption of compromise. That's perfect compromise right there.

TED SIMONS: What about like outdoors? I know a lot of folks, we have indoor cats and you open the window, and it's kind of nice for them but sometimes, you wish -- a lot of folks in the book have outdoor spaces.

KATE BENJAMIN: We call them catios. That's another word for an outdoor enclosure that's designed specifically for your cats and we do have a really wonderful example of one in San Juan Capistrano by one of our readers who we featured as our special highlight and she created a beautiful enclosed outdoor area that's very safe for the cats to come and go through cat doors from the inside to the outside, and it's filled with plants and all sorts of things for the cats.

TED SIMONS: I remembered something from the book back to the litter boxes, if you put two litter boxes in one space, that only counts as one.

JACKSON GALAXY: It's only one litter box. Believe me, 20 years of working with clients who just want to get around this thing and I say I need you to have three litter boxes and they put them side by side, it's one litter box and not only that it's one litter box in a socially insignificant area. It's important for your cats to have a litter box, the king of all scent soakers in a place that you share.

TED SIMONS: And you don't butt heads on that idea?

KATE BENJAMIN: I definitely see where he's coming from and I will support it.

TED SIMONS: When you design and when you deal, are cats ever really totally fully domesticated?


TED SIMONS: They're not, are they? They're little wild animals.

JACKSON GALAXY: Not even almost. I don't think they're domestic animals. If you look at the timeline of our life on this planet with them, they've only been around for most of that time because they did a job, right? They rid us of pests that were, you know, eating our food and making us sick. We kept them around for that. It wasn't like dogs that we brought into the house and coevolved with them. Cats are wild animals.

TED SIMONS: You can have the best design in the world in there but can a cat be happy if it's indoor only?

KATE BENJAMIN: Absolutely. What we've tried to do in our books is give people the tools and get them excited about observing their cat and really interested in doing something because a lot of times people don't think about the cat's needs or take the time to look at them so what we want to do is get people excited about that and inspired to do something and I think if you try any of the things in either book, that you will see a huge change in the happiness of your cat.

TED SIMONS: I've got to ask something. I take care of a few cats in the backyard, we can't let them in but they're nice creatures and I like to take care of them. One of them will sit in my lap, I can't even begin to sit down before it's already in my lap. The other two don't. How can you get a cat, indoors, outdoors, how do you get a cat to be affectionate?

JACKSON GALAXY: Everybody has their own personality quirks, some people have very large personal bubbles and so do cats. The guys who live outside your house could be feral. When people talk about feral cats, they want to put them in the same box as others. Feral cats will have nothing to do with you ever. That guy who's coming into your lap, I mean, that's a whole different story altogether but it's funny. I've got clients who say to me could you just make my cat into a lap cat? No! No.

TED SIMONS: You can't do that. They either are or they're not.

JACKSON GALAXY: You can only bribe so much.

TED SIMONS: And you can fix up your house, great job with the house panther and the show. Thank you from a cat lover thank you so much. You do great work. Thanks for joining us. And by the way, book signing tonight.


KATE BENJAMIN: We're heading right over to crescent ballroom at 7:00, you can probably still get tickets there and come see us give a little talk and get your book signed.

TED SIMONS: At the crescent ballroom. Good to have you both here. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us, you have a great evening.

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

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