Film and TV

Reality Bites: My Cat From Hell

I'm not a cat person, but as with any pet (okay, maybe not fish), if you made the committment to buying/adopting/conjuring one as your familiar, you need to step and take responsibility for raising it.

The same probably applies to kids. I dunno, they're my wife's problem.

Sometimes, however, the pet in question becomes a real handful. Enter your dog whisperers, your reptile wranglers, or your "cat behaviorists," offering that last line of defense before a frustrated family leaves Mittens by the side of the road. These are the tales behind My Cat from Hell.

MCFH host Jackson Galaxy is a "musician by night, cat behaviorist by day." Deceptively mild-mannered, in spite of the fierce looking ink and hipster/bowler attire, he's your last resort when you're having trouble taming that pussy.


First up was "Snickers," a show cat of the breed known as "Pixie-Bob," which are allegedly descended from bobcat hybrids. What a shock to learn one might be ill-behaved. Further, her outbursts appear to be limited to the following situations:

- When show judges are touching her - When her owners (Laura and Rick, who look like they stepped out of the "Making of" doc on Best in Show) strap her in what looks like a feline straitjacket in order to trim her claws - When they put her in her "show cage"

I'm going to go ahead and step in before Galaxy's formidable goatee makes it through the door and say: Stop. Showing. The cat. And sure enough, he comes to my genius conclusion and gets Laura and Rick to agree to retire her if it turns out he's right about the shows being the source of Snickers' stress.

The cat show Laura and Rick take Galaxy to looks like it's being held in a Red Cross hurricane shelter. It's at this point I realize these shows are basically baby beauty pageants for pet owners, right down to the horrible trailer trashy aspect of the proceedings and endlessly meaningless prizes and award categories. At the end of the day, and after a lot of crap about "honoring our verbal contract," Laura and Rick agree to stop showing Snickers. As Lisa Simpson once said, the madness ends here.

Less humorous is the case of "Dexter," a cat who's having an adverse effect on owner Jeremy's health. Jeremy has Crohn's disease, and his symptoms often get set off by the stress of Dexter's incessant meowing. How often? Dude's been in the hospital more than a dozen times in two years.

"The negativity that he's bringing to this cat is making a negative situation worse," says Galaxy, who then pauses as if he can't believe the words that just came out of his mouth. I can't believe any sane person is taking advice from someone who changed his last name to "Galaxy," which seems like it would've fallen out of favor around the same time Ken Kesey's bus made its last trip.

I also liked how Jeremy's live-in girlfriend Erica almost never talked. Then again, it's hard to get a word in edgewise when your boyfriend is basically Jesse Eisenberg from The Social Network.

In all fairness, Galaxy seems genuinely interested in helping people in these situations. He obviously has a lot of love for the animals, and much of his advice boils down to pointing out what should be common sense (cat playing in the toilet? CLOSE THE FUCKING LID). It's just funny seeing what some of these people consider to be crises. I'm really looking forward to a day when Animal Planet has to dig through the vaults and broadcast the episodes where Galaxy deals with cats that "picky eaters" or "suffer their owners' presence with a barely veiled feline equivalent of a sneer, deigning to be touched only after food is promptly provided."

But then, that's every cat, isn't it?

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar