Careers in Feline Behavior & Training
What is Feline Training & Behavior all about?
Feline training emphasizes the shaping of desired behaviors through positive reinforcement and environmental management. Training can greatly improve the quality of life for both cat and owner while creating a wonderful bond between them. Behavioral enrichment refers to the structuring of an animal’s environment to provide choices and promote natural behaviors. Enrichment enhances the quality of life by reducing stress and encouraging a range of healthy, natural behaviors. Together they constitute a comprehensive set of management tools; these tools are used by a wide variety of animal professionals.
So who needs to know the principles of feline behavior, training and enrichment? Nearly everyone that works with cats on a daily basis! Here are a few examples.
Cat Trainers & Behavioral Consultants
Trainers working with cats need to have a detailed knowledge of their behavior. They also need a deep toolbox of techniques that can be used to modify behaviors. Dealing with problem behaviors often requires changes to the environment or providing new outlets for natural behaviors being performed in inappropriate ways. For example, scratching and elimination are natural behaviors. We obviously can’t stop them, but we can manage the environment to ensure that they only occur in the proper places on the proper substrates. Cat trainers develop these skills and typically use them to develop their own business as a trainer or behavioral consultant.
Veterinary technicians deal with behavioral issues daily. Many owners may be creating health or behavioral problems simply because they don't understand their animals. A solid foundation in behavior and training allows veterinary staff to identify and correct many of these problems. A thorough understanding of behavioral principles can facilitate the cat’s voluntary cooperation with procedures and minimize anxiety in a stressful environment. Some technicians have developed behavioral specialties, learning to work with owners to structure the home environment in ways that improve behavior and increase their pet's welfare at home. Feline training should be part of the overall care of the cat; it provides an opportunity to increase communication between the veterinary practice and their patients.
Groomers, Pet Sitters, and Kennel Staff
Anyone working with cat needs to recognize and interpret their body language correctly. A solid understanding of feline behavior will allow them to anticipate problems before they develop, actively managing the environment to minimize fears & phobias. Good behavioral management allows us to gain our cats’ trust, facilitating cooperation in grooming, nail trimming or other procedures without struggling. Furthermore, training can be offered to clients at your facility, providing an opportunity to provide new services or launch your own cat training business as well.
The outlook for animal care and service workers is excellent. Employment in these areas is expected to grow 15 percent over the 2012-22 decade (source: US Department of Labor). Who hires cat trainers and behaviorists? They may be self-employed as trainers or behavioral consultants. Cat trainers may also work for veterinarians, the pet industry, animal shelters, kennels, animal control and the retail pet trade. Sample positions include:
- Professional cat trainer
- Behavioral consultant
- Professional Pet Sitter
- Shelter manager
- Veterinary technician
- Cat groomer
- Kennel technician
If you have a professional interest in Feline Training & Behavior, you may want to explore one or more of these associations for additional information.
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