Jackson Galaxy works magic.
He can not only slow-eye-blink a rageaholic kitty cat into relatively peaceful submission, he can also cajole impertinent cat owners (or impertinent significant others of cat owners) into calm, feline-adoring beings.
Galaxy, a cat behaviorist who stars in Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell" series, would say there's no magic involved. He would say it's just experience stemming from years of "trench training" in cat shelters and dealing with hundreds of distressed cat owners who are at a loss when it comes to relating to their pets.
Season 2 of "My Cat From Hell" debuts tonight at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet. I spoke with Galaxy by phone on Thursday, and when he wasn't telling me how my own cats were "calling all the shots" in my house, he talked a little about his background with cats and where he hopes to take the show in the future.
The premise of "My Cat From Hell" has Galaxy visiting the homes of folks struggling with some particularly bad cat behaviors (often some sort of aggression) and working with both the cats and the owners to solve the problems. Much as with television shows addressing the problem behaviors of dogs ("Dog Whisperer," "It's Me or the Dog"), the cat behavior problems Galaxy finds are often related to some misguided or misinformed actions of the owner.
Galaxy says it's important he keeps his cool, even if he's dealing with a big two-legged jerk. "I can count on my hands the times I've lost it in 15 years," Galaxy said. "It serves no one. I only have one opportunity to teach them." (I give him major points for his zen attitude, and told him that in the past I have described him to people not only as a sort of "cat whisperer," but also an "[expletive substitute for jerk] whisperer." He laughs: "I will relish that!")
Galaxy's affinity for handling cats became apparent while he worked at an animal shelter in Boulder, Colorado, and he says his motivation to learn about cats was, "What can I get done with this cat today that can keep it from getting euthanized today."
He eventually started teaching classes on cat behavior and as word spread, Animal Planet became interested in what he was doing. That led to his work on the network's "Cats 101" and "America's Cutest Cat" shows, and finally, his own "My Cat From Hell" series.
I personally really like this show, though I have objected in the past to the show's title, which I think demonizes cats. Galaxy says he had no part in naming the show and agrees the title is a little much, but believes there's a good reason for it.
"That was hard for me at first, " he said. "But Animal Planet had it right. You have one chance to lock the casual viewer into the world of cats, and a casual viewer might not lock in without something like that."
So the name isn't his, but everything else is. The tattoos, the guitar case, the funky car?
"That's all me," he says.
Which leads to burning question number one: Exactly what all is in that guitar case he carries to his client visits? Answer: Interactive toys like the 'Da Bird' feather wand he uses to get cats moving; remote toys like fuzzy mice; a black light to show owners all the cat pee they didn't know about; cleaning solutions for said cat pee; essence remedies for cats; freeze dried meat treats to make the cats like him more; and business cards from local craftsmen who specialize in catios and other unique cat structures.
Burning question number two: What kind of tattoos are all over his arms? Answer: "99 percent of them are cats." Galaxy has a tat of one of his cats on his arm, and says he's a big fan of 18th and 19th century Japanese animal art. You can see a gallery of his cat tattoos (cattoos? I can't be the first person to say that, right?) on his Facebook page.
For the first two seasons of "My Cat From Hell," Galaxy has had to stick close to Los Angeles, his home now for four years. But he'd love to broaden his reach.
"If we're up for 3rd season, that's the first thing I'm begging for," he said, noting that every day on Facebook he receives requests from troubled cat owners from all over the world.
Galaxy has a new book called "Cat Daddy" coming out in May that is part memoir but also addresses basic cat behavior problems, and he still teaches classes in LA and does private in-person consults and Skype consults.
No matter the medium, the mission is always the same: save cats.
"I do always have in my head that I do this job because of where I came from -- world of kill shelters -- and knowing millions of cat and dogs will die there, and knowing there's something you can do about it. I just whisper to the [expletive substitute for jerk] so that cat doesn't wind up in the shelter."
Season 2 of "My Cat From Hell" debuts tonight on Animal Planet at 8 p.m. The second season has a six-episode run.