Jennifer Van De Kieft
ABI Success Story
Feline Training & Behavior
Advanced Feline Training
Let’s meet Jennifer! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm the owner of Cat Advocate, a feline behavior consulting company located in Brooklyn, NY which I started after graduating from ABI in 2018 with the Certification in Feline Training and Behavior. This was a career change for me as I worked in the addiction field for approximately 20 years. I retired from a demanding job of running a large opioid treatment program and began studying cat behavior. It's been a wonderful and satisfying experience helping cat owners understand their cats better and resolve behavioral issues. I love learning so I went back to ABI and completed the Advanced Certification during the pandemic and continue to take feline related behavior and nutrition courses.
How did you benefit from your experience at ABI?
ABI made learning fun and easy, at least for me. It was my first online class, and I've taken many others since then, and I think ABI's format is the best. I loved the combination of doing work on your own and interacting with professors and classmates. The socratic method, having that back and forth with the professor and colleagues is key to learning and understanding new concepts. I have not seen any other program replicate this type of individualized learning the same way ABI does it. It was a great experience that gave me the tools I needed to change my career path to working with cats, which was a lifelong dream. I felt confident to start my own feline behavior consulting business after I graduated.
What was your favorite course?
I loved Feline Training and Advanced Feline Training. Working with cats who have behavioral issues is my passion and I enjoyed learning how to help resolve those behavioral issues. Being a lifelong cat owner, I thought I knew a lot about cats, but spending time carefully investigating why cats may display behavioral issues in homes was fascinating. These classes opened my eyes to how our home environment plays a large role in giving cats opportunities to act out their natural behaviors and the implications of what may happen when cats are not given outlets for their energy, intelligence and species specific instincts.
What have you been doing since you graduated from ABI?
I started my own consulting business, Cat Advocate, where I primarily help cat owners who are dealing with cat behavioral issues. I often see clients who need assistance with litter box issues, aggression, fearfulness, excessive yowling, and early morning waking. I'm also obsessed with feeding cats and have recently added a consultation on best practices for feeding cats since pet food labels can be confusing leaving owners unsure about what's best for their cat. I used to travel to homes around NYC for work, but since the pandemic began, I meet with clients virtually. This has expanded my client base and allowed me to help a greater number of people with their cats who are too far for me to travel to in person.
Would you recommend ABI to others?
Yes, definitely! ABI is a great place to learn a lot about how to help animals, get certified, and the class format is the best I've come across.