Cats have a long-standing reputation for being inscrutable creatures, but cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy doesn’t believe the hype.

1. If you’re feeling stressed, so is your cat

A recent study by Ohio State University found that stress is not just detrimental to human health; it affects the health of our pets, too.

“If you’re having a crappy day, your cat can sense that without words,” Jackson says. “The less verbal a creature is, the more they rely on energetic input. Because an animal can’t walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, this is stressing me out,’ they internalize it and express it physically.”

2. Food is fuel

When it comes to food, many pet owners rely on dry food because it is inexpensive, easy to store and can be left out for extended periods for their fur-ever friends to nibble on. However, cats are obligate carnivores; meaning they have nutritional requirements that can only be met with a diet based on animal tissue.

“They need meat and nothing but meat,” Galaxy shares. “Their diets should consist of 90 percent meat and meat protein, and 10 percent grass and vegetables.”

Dry foods do not provide as much moisture as wet foods do, which becomes more important as your cat ages, when they are ill or in dry, hot climates.

“I would rather you buy the lowest quality wet food than the highest quality dry food,” he proclaims.  

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3. Play is essential

When it comes to exercise, purchasing a stuffed mouse won’t be enough to keep your cat active.

“How do you make a cat happy? By catering to the hunter in them,” Galaxy says. He encourages using toys to imitate the movements of a bird, moth or mouse. “Cats will hunt if there is something to hunt.”

Cats are born with a hunting and chasing instinct. Jackson calls this state the ‘raw cat.’

“Underneath every housecat is their ancestor ready to pounce. If you want to keep them engaged, you remind them that they’re fantastic hunters.” 

4. Every person can be a pet person

The most rewarding part of Galaxy’s work? Introducing strangers to the joy of sharing life with an animal.

During his journey from entry-level shelter worker to television star, Jackson developed a vision to help animals in-need. In 2014 the Jackson Galaxy Foundation was founded, which works to improve the lives of sheltered animals and their dedicated advocates.

“As a long time rescue worker, my heart belongs to the welfare of all animals.”