How and when did you realize you wanted to be a cat behaviorist?
I have always felt like I had a special bond with cats. Since I was a small girl, I was fascinated with them, and they always seemed to be comfortable around me, too. As I grew up and was able to have cats in my life, they taught me so much more about their behaviors. Working in cat rescue, owning a cats-only pet sitting business, and having multiple cats of my own have all taught me so much.
Can you walk us through the specifics of being a cat behaviorist?
People come to me with their cat problems, and most of the time they have no clue why their cats are acting out, or even how to properly care for cats and their unique needs. They are not small dogs, and need to be approached differently. I shy away from using the word “train,” as I do not train cats. Rather, I teach people what drives cats to do what they do, and how to best entice them to acceptable behaviors vs the ones that are undesirable.
What would you say is the difference between a trainer and a behaviorist? Is there a major difference?
A trainer is someone who is focused on teaching cats to do tricks, in my opinion. Cats are smart and can be taught may things, and I’ve seen some very entertaining cats that have been taught to do fascinating tricks. What I do is behavior correction, and teaching humans how to best relate to their cats. Honestly, sometimes the behavior that needs correcting is that of the humans and not the cats!
One may argue a cat is very hard to domesticate because of their own nature – would you call that just a rumor or is it limited only to a certain group of pets?
If one goes back to when cats first entered the lives of humans, you will see that cats actually chose to live among us. They domesticated themselves, unlike dogs that humans went out and domesticated and turned into working dogs as well as pets. In the fascinating book “The Lion in the Living Room,” by Abigail Tucker, Abigail explains exactly how the feline/human bond began. Since cats chose us, and perhaps tamed us rather than the other way around, I think it’s safe to say that domesticating a cat is not hard. But one has to be aware of what they need and provide a home that satisfies all of your cat’s basic feline needs.
As a cat owner myself, I can see in the case of my kitty that she hasn’t been affected by all this (quarantine life) – would you say cats are better to handle these type of pressure situations than other animals or pets?
Since cats sleep quite a lot, the quarantine life we’re living right now isn’t much different than how indoor cats live anyway. The big difference for them is we’re all at home rather than out at work all day, and that may throw your cat’s routine off and may make him a little curious as to why things have changed. Cats don’t like change very much, so it may have taken them a little while to adapt to their humans staying at home all day. Also cats are very sensitive, so if today’s situation has caused their humans stress then cats are bound to pick up on that.
What would be some of the recommendations to those who may own a cat and live in much closer and less open spaces where a cat may feel a bit trapped?
Cats don’t really need much space. Outside, cats roam and claim larger territories because of the finite nature of resources, such as food, water, and mates. Indoor cats have no need to “worry” about their basic needs, so as long as your cat has cozy nooks and high vertical places to climb, such as cat trees and/or shelving, then he’ll be happy. When a horizontal space is small, providing more vertical space is a great solution.
When and where can people find you online?
People can find me on my website, RitaReimers.com, and of course on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @MultiCatExpert. Join my Club Cattitude for exclusive access to me and my team for behavior help, and also to be part of a cat-loving community. Catster.com also provides the articles I’ve written for them, and I write for petcentral.Chewy.com as well. Litter Genie will also be putting out a series of Blogs I’ve been asked to write for them later this month. In addition, my first book, Sadie’s Heart, is available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback.
What else is happening next in Rita Reimers’ world?
Of course my staff and I are building up Club Cattitude, which will be my main focus and my online home. Look for a Podcast “19 Cats and Counting” to come out in the next few months with myself and BFF Linda. Once we’re all able to travel again, we’ll set up our first annual Cattitude Cruise once again; we were so excited about that and we’re so sad to postpone it. We have wonderful sponsors who have donated prizes for our onboard scavenger hunt, too. I am also working on my cat behavior book entitled, The Lucky Cat, and I hope to have that available in the fall/winter timeframe.