Interview! Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado, Cat Behaviorist

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“I don’t think of shelter cats as…any different from pet cats, except that yesterday they were a pet and today they’re in a shelter, and their behavior may not really reflect who they were in that previous home.”

Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist with a Ph.D. in psychology, has quite a list of accomplishments under her belt. She has co-authored the book Total Cat Mojo with Jackson Galaxy, and she currently co-owns a cat behavior consulting business called Feline Minds, which assists both pet owners and shelters. Mikel is also a post doc fellow at the University of California at Davis doing research on cat behavior in multi-cat households and on the health and development of orphaned neonatal kittens.

Mikel was, in her own words, “obsessed with cats” even as a child, though she never had particular aspirations toward being a vet, and it never really occurred to her until much later in life that she could have a job working with cats. Soon after the death of a beloved pet cat, Mikel began volunteering at the San Francisco SPCA, an organization with a robust cat behavior program. Mikel was hooked and ended up working for the SFSPCA for eight years before leaving to pursue her education.

Today, Mikel and her business partner work on many feline behavior cases, most of which, Mikel tells us, are due to an under-stimulating environment. She explains that keeping cats indoors restricts their experiences, and if you don’t replace those outdoor experiences with something else stimulating, it will lead to behavior problems.

Mikel is also conducting some fascinating research on cats—all of it either on pet cats in their homes or on foster kittens in the pre-existing UC Davis neonatal kitten foster program. (In other words, there are no lab cats here!) Tune in to hear the details of Mikel’s research and how it may help future cats and kittens in homes and shelters.

For more information,visit Mikel’s website, or you can follow her on Twitter @mikel_maria.

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