In cases where you are called in for a cat problem, what is the most common problem you see?
By and large, it's a pretty even split: litter box issues and aggression. In this day and age, even with the existence of My Cat From Hell, it takes a lot to push a human to call a behaviorist. It's almost as if they are swallowing their pride, admitting that they can't "handle the cat." It seems like when guardians are confronted with either of those behaviors, it brings them to that most irate, most confused, most frustrated place. Of course, part of my job is to address the needs and frustrations of the humans. Education is key, but compassionate education is king.
Given your start at the Boulder Valley Humane Society, what else can local shelters and rescues do to help troubleshoot cat problems and keep cats in their homes?
I love talking about this! To start with, one of the most important pieces of advice I can give to any shelter is to remove the word "random" from their vocabulary when it comes to assessing cat behavior. Minute changes in behavior can signal big changes to come. Encourage volunteers to have a written communication chain with each other and with shelter/ rescue staff for each cat in their care. It could mean a few minutes of journaling after each visit. The added bonus, besides heading off behaviors at the pass, is that adopters then have a comprehensive story of who their new companion is. It will help facilitate adoptions and discourage returns.