This is how it works: forget about analysing (you are not a behavioural therapist), do not collect any questionnaires or information (or a limited amount only), but go through the Cat Matrix® from step 1 to step 50.
By then, chances are that the problem has improved or has even been resolved, which is the idea. For specific issues, you can go through the last chapter on behavioural issues.
So this model is not based on a theory we want to test now but is the result of years of testing, shared via a theoretical model.
It is a tried and tested system that has proven to be highly successful.
This is mainly because of its holistic approach.
The word ‘holistic’ sounds a bit convoluted and fluffy but it means ‘looking at the whole’ instead of ‘looking at the parts or the sum of the parts’.
In other words, we are looking at all facets of your cat’s behaviour.
There are different visions of behavioural modification in the world.
Not all behavioural therapists operate the same way.
So while reading this book you may not agree with everything, which is fine and perfectly normal even!
This is my approach, one I have created based on my university studies and hundreds of consultations, and my conclusion is that most behavioural problems are actually the result of a fundamental flaw in the basics, meaning that your cat’s essential needs are not being met.
The construction of the Cat Matrix® is important. You have to start at the beginning as the various changes build on top of one another.
I am convinced that by going through all the steps, even without analysis or extra information (which takes a lot of time), at least half of all behavioural problems, if not more, should be solved!
That doesn’t mean that collecting background information is not important or convenient because it remains important if we want to understand the ‘why’ of a given behaviour.
After going through the steps, you may ask yourself what finally made the difference or did the trick.
The answer is not one specific part, but the combination and the sequence of all the steps.
Compare it to a shovel and a bucket. There’s not much you can do with one or the other individually, but when you have the two you can build sandcastles!
So there are steps in the Cat Matrix® that will make you say to yourself “Uh, what does that have to do with my cat’s unwanted behaviour? That’s irrelevant, isn’t it?”
Believe me, I want you to go through this step anyway because it will matter in the end!
So an important rule when going through the Cat Matrix® is: do not skip steps because YOU think they are not relevant.
I know from experience you’ll be tempted to. There are going to be steps in the Cat Matrix® that will not be relevant to your situation, simply because you can’t perform them.
You can’t calculate social relationships if you only have one cat. So use your common sense to judge whether or not you should take a step.
The structure of The Cat Matrix® corresponds to the structure I use during therapy, in order of importance. All steps build on top of each other; even any that are quite parallel to each other as they reinforce one another.
The Cat Matrix® consists of 50 steps, subdivided into 5 chapters.
The first 30 steps form an important basis for all cats, no matter what your situation is.
In the fourth chapter you will find relevant steps that will be applicable to your situation and others that are not, feel free to skip any that aren’t. The information from the fifth chapter is meant to be applied to specific undesirable behaviour.
PART 1 – STEP 1-10 – Absolute basics
Start with these steps and preferably perform them all at once.
PART 2 – STEP 11-20 Strengthening your relationship with your cat
These are insights that affect your behaviour towards your cat. It’s not so much about changing practical things in your home, but about fostering conscious change in you.
PART 3 – STEP 21-30 – Stimulating natural behaviour
Don’t start this part until you have completed the first 10 steps and mastered most of the second part.
PART 4 – STEP 31-40 – Training and management of behaviour
This is the next stage, the one you move on to once you have managed to consistently implement steps 1 to 30 in your daily routine.
PART 5 – STEP 41-50 – Undesirable behaviour
This part specifically deals with undesirable behaviour. You can start it in combination with part 1 or immediately after you have finished the basics.
The rule is very simple: if you apply these 50 steps and they don’t work, you need to see a behavioural therapist as a matter of urgency.
To be honest, I ended up creating this model out of frustration, for I had had so many consultations where I mostly only got the basics right. But when I sat down and began to conduct thorough behavioural analyses and wrote out behavioural plans, as I had learned during my university training, often the problem proved to have been resolved…
So this model may also ring the changes for behavioural professionals, as there is no point consulting a behavioural professional until your cat’s basic needs are met. In this way, professionals can be left to deal with more complex behavioural problems. A win-win for everyone!
I will give you as much scientifically based information as possible, but at a certain point science slows down.
Science has given us great insights, but it doesn’t always tell us where to actually place something, how to respond to our cat or how to train her.
That is why this book is supplemented with practical advice, based on more than 10 years of experience and experimenting, a powerful combination I believe.
I want you to be inspired, to be able to work with tools that are practical and affordable.
You can choose how far you to take matters.