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Jackson Galaxy returns to Portland: On his new book, and Portland's '911 cat'

The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. — Kristi Turnquist The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

Nov. 14--As anybody with even a casual connection to social media knows, cats are having a moment. Whether it's videos of tabbies batting heirlooms off a table, chatty Siamese showing off their vocal skills or purebreds looking like space aliens, felines are everywhere on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and more.

That's as it should be, according to Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell."

"They're in their rightful place," Galaxy says, in a phone interview. Galaxy has worked as a cat behavior consultant for more than 15 years, and comes to Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on Saturday, Nov. 18 to promote his new book, "Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat."

"It's an amazing moment for people who love cats," says Galaxy. "When you have a dog, you have a built-in social structure. With a dog, you go out, go to a dog park. With cats, you don't have that. They're in your home."

Having social media gives people who love cats a chance to mingle, Galaxy says.

"Part of this resurgence" of cat popularity, Galaxy suggests, "is about demystifying cats, putting aside this notion that cats are aloof, and don't care about anything."

Galaxy's goal, he says, and the goal of the book -- co-written with cat behaviorist Mikel Maria Delgado -- is to make it clear that cats are "emotional animals. Of course, they care about you, but they show it in a very different way from a dog."

Galaxy isn't dissing dogs -- as he says, he has nine cats, three dogs and a turtle. He also co-hosts, with dog trainer Zoe Sandor, a new Animal Planet series, "Cat vs. Dog," in which Galaxy and Sandor help pet owners solve household conflicts between dogs and cats.

"When I go home," Galaxy says, "I'm psyched to see dogs," and their "I love you so much!" greetings.

But it's a mistake, Galaxy says, to "look at cats through dog-colored glasses," where we "expect cats to act like dogs, and get disappointed when they don't. Other than the fact that they've got four legs, and they're covered in fur, they're different animals."

In "Total Cat Mojo," Galaxy explains how cat owners can understand their pets, and learn what cats need to achieve a state of "cat mojo," i.e., "The confidence that cats exhibit when they are at ease in their environment and in touch with their natural instincts -- to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, and sleep."

Galaxy has been to Portland several times before, including trips here working with Lux, the so-called "911 cat." Lux, a long-haired black-and-white cat, made national news in 2014, when his owners hid in the bedroom of their home and called 911, because they were frightened by the cat's aggressive behavior.

In a 2014 episode of "My Cat From Hell," Galaxy took on the case of Lux, recommending the couple give up the cat. Galaxy brought Lux to a veterinary hospital for an exam and tests. Another Portland couple tried to provide a home for Lux, but the cat's unpredictable bursts of violent behavior ultimately proved too difficult to deal with.

"He's a mentally ill cat," says Galaxy of Lux. "He really has problems that are organic, and behavior problems on top of that." It was tough to watch Lux struggle, Galaxy recalls. "It still sticks with me, and that's why I'm still involved with his life. Lux, for his own good, shouldn't be living in a home, so I have him placed in a great sanctuary. He's got a great life, and he's a very happy guy. He just needs to be in a place where he can't damage anybody."

The saga of Lux caught the attention of all sorts of people, Galaxy says. "The Portland community was so incredibly supportive. The folks at the Oregon Humane Society went out of their way to help. The show is called 'My Cat From Hell,' but people cared about the outcome of Lux's story. People cared about what happened to him."

Finding the right homes for all cats is what motivates him, Galaxy says.

"I'm beyond happy that this book is finally out there," he says, adding he hopes it can help strengthen the bonds between humans and animals, "and we can reach that magical place where cats aren't killed in shelters."

Jackson Galaxy will be at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. "Cat vs. Dog" episodes air at 10 p.m. Saturdays on Animal Planet.

-- Kristi Turnquist

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