How To Become A Certified Cat Behaviorist

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Becoming a Certified Cat Behaviorist

Becoming a Certified Cat Behaviorist

Becoming a certified cat behaviorist is a enormous step in the right direction if your dream job is performing consultations and implementing intervention plans to help solve complex behavior issues like litter box aversion. The goal of solving intricate behavior problems is to increase cat retention rates and prevent cats from being surrendered to a shelter where they may not find another home.

You can become certified in cat behavior with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants through their application process or by graduating from Animal Behavior Institute. Both ways ensure that you are capable and well equipped to handle cat behavior cases that go beyond basic maintenance.

Animal Behavior Institute

Animal Behavior Institute is more of an investment at around three thousand dollars to attend but covers all you need to know to be successful as a cat behaviorist. All you need in order to enroll at the Animal Behavior Institute is a high school diploma or graduation equivalent.

The Animal Behavior Institute is very complex and detailed. The lesson plans and syllabus provide a solid education for those new to the cat behavior world entirely. There is only 12 students per semester which allows instructor feedback and personal communication between the students.

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

The IAABC application process requires that you are already knowledgeable in the field as it is skill accessed while Animal Behavior Institute will teach you everything you need to know in your career as a cat behaviorist. This organization offers three levels of membership with is supporting, associate certified, and fully certified.

The requirement to take the IAABC associate certified application: 

  • 150 hours of coursework
  • 300 hours of behavior consulting
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • $75 application fee and yearly dues of 85$
  • 36 continued education units per three years

The requirement to take the IAABC certified application: 

  • 400 hours of coursework
  • 500 hours of behavior consulting
  • Minimum of three years of consulting
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • $125 application fee and yearly dues of $110
  • 36 continued education units per three years

The associate application will ask for two written case studies and completion of questions related to terminology, techniques, assessment, and history taking. A score of 80% is required to pass.

The certified application will ask for three case studies, written discussion of four case studies, and completion of questions related to terminology, techniques, assessment, and history taking. The score for passing the certified application is also 80%.

The Path To Being a Consultant

What I suggest people do is volunteer to help consult with people on behavior problems that adopt from the animal shelter and are considering returning their adopted pet. This is useful since most shelter personnel are not well versed in cat behavior or how to handle most behavior problems.

You will find your time best invested performing behavior consultations if you can find a cat only rescue to help out. Document every case you do, interventions used in each case, along with a thorough history and resolution. Follow up at reasonable time frames and don’t be afraid that you do not know everything at first. These case studies will serve you when you want to become certified by the IAABC or through the school. It has proven beneficial to some consultants to make an official protocol binder with the help of a trained behaviorist when they are just starting.

The second best way to learn about cat behavior is to read any and every book you can get your hands on along with reading articles online. I have a library of about 20 cat behavior books that I constantly reference. One important thing to know about cat behavior is that many behaviorists have different ideas but that is okay as long as it is humane and makes logical sense. One such example is how some behaviorists swear by Sentry calming collars but other behaviorists hate Sentry calming collars but love Feliway for their consultations.

Third thing you can do to reinforce your learning is to watch My Cat From Hell or Psycho Kitty to get a good idea of what a behavior consultations looks and sounds like from beginning to end. Both Pam Johnson and Jackson Galaxy are experts when it comes to being a cat behaviorist.

A Commitment To Learning

Certified cat behaviorists are obligated to invest in future learning opportunities so that they may provide the most humane and minimally invasive techniques for modifying problematic behavior. Every person can learn something new each day about cat behavior regardless of where we are at on an educational level.

I have found that every cat is unique and requires individual assessment and acknowledgement. I once met a cat who would never take canned cat food as a treat or anything else that was tasty but would eat one specific kind of bologna. I was looking for something to use as a treat for clicker training. Not every cat reads the book on cat behavior so you always have to be ready to analyze and interpret behavior that you may not be accustomed to.

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