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Cat Peeing Outside the Litter Box? The Doctor is In!
If Dr. Kerry Hyde Ph.D. welcomed her clients into a furnished office, it is quite likely that her therapy couch would display signs of kitty angst; claw-marks fraying the sides highlighted by multiple puncture marks on the cushions from cats kneading her attention. The unmistakable smell of cat pee might even linger in the air, for Dr. Kerry Hyde is a Cat Psych.
When Animal Planet aired Animal Psychic, Kerry's phone rang frequently. One of the main questions asked of her, did she sit on some astral plane communicating with cat spirits? Kerry quickly pointed out her augmented practical approach to her callers. She understands cat behavior. "I watch a cat’s behavior. Reading body language and asking questions of those living in the home, I soon have enough evidence collected to begin removing the tension that exists there. But I admit I get a lot of laughs from people when I tell them what I do for a living."
Rewind to the early 1990's when she was an undergraduate at Florida State University. A striking Mackerel Tabby by the name of Puna shared her life. One afternoon, Puna decided to test for himself the old adage: "Cats always land on their feet." During an impressive leap, he missed his mark, fracturing both his rear legs and hip in the process.
Struggling to make ends meet, Kerry started a fund: “Save Puna’s Butt!” She also began pet sitting quickly discovering she possessed a unique ability to communicate with the cats under her care. Her client list and the money in her fund grew. Soon she had enough to pay for surgery and aftercare.
Initially, she had entered college harboring intentions of becoming a physicist. "I hit a wall in my second year of Calculus." Kerry confided ruefully. Unable to wrap her mind around the complex formulas in order to conquer this required math, she realized a change was in order. After a revealing talk with her mom, Kerry changed her major to Psychology with an emphasis in Animal Behavior. “Unfortunately, back then, every course constructed in the United States around cats followed cats living in unnatural settings. In order to understand them fully, I knew I needed to observe them in their natural habitat."
Her search finally led her to Birchum University in Madrid, Spain. She signed up for an experimental long-distance course where Zoology met Animal Behavior. Kerry laughs when remembering. "It was so experimental. I was the only student!"
Her classroom became the various feral cat ranches situated around Florida. “I’m sure I raised some eyebrows. I would show up with a thermos of ice tea, my notebooks and pens, binoculars and tape recorder and sit under a large shade tree while observing the cats. The textbooks taught me the basic fundamentals while empowering me with the ability to question what I was reading.”
Today, Kerry pet sits, sees clients locally, online and also does phone counseling. Her price: $80.00 an hour. Her passion though surrounds shelter kitties, many left to languish in animal shelters nationwide. So Kerry volunteers for a program called “Implementing the Feline-ality- Meet Your Match” at the Tallahassee Animal Shelter. Her duties consist of evaluating each shelter cat’s behavior aiming to match the cat with the right adoptive family. “Cats don’t misbehave. Some people just don’t understand them.”
Kerry explains further. I don't just want to work with shelters in my area," I am open to helping ALL shelters and groups in need by consulting with people wanting to return cats previously adopted out.” For this cause, she lowers her fee by over 60%.
In between volunteering at the shelter, she lectures at Humane Societies, juggles a full pet sitting schedule while managing to still meet with clients. Recently, she started a non-profit organization It’s Meow or Never for Ferals. She implemented a barn cat program to relieve the overflowing population in the feral cat sanctuaries in Florida.
Kerry doesn’t have time to sit in an office. "There are too many cats," she comments sadly. "And there aren't enough hours in a day to help them all."
Contact Kerry through her website www.catpsych.com or call her at 1-800-322-6947