“Cat Daddy,” by Jackson Galaxy | Quintillion Ink-Strokes

I don’t own a cat, though I find Galaxy to be quite a unique individual to include in the Quintillion Ink-Strokes series, not just in terms of his appearance and name but also because of his expertise.

Plot

Jackson Galaxy starts off this memoir by talking about his drug-induced misadventures which lead him to work for a euthanasia center. The experience of putting down animals made him become empathetic towards animals, specifically cats. Eventually, he was let go and eventually decided to start his own private practice.

Throughout the book, he struggled with many addictions, either from prescription medication to eating.

Themes

A major theme in the book is his constant struggles with conflict with other people. Throughout his time working in euthanasia, he was called various names such as “Nazi” and “killer.” Considering how he mentions being Roma, I can definitely see how this would make him nearly strangle a patron who called him a “Nazi fuck.” Galaxy also notes how he was accused of being a fraud simply because he did not have a degree within the field of animal science. He has also disagreed strongly with animal professionals who say that declawing is recommended, particularly since Galaxy sees it as an old fashioned view of animal science and not beneficial according to Galaxy’s own experience with declawed cats, who walk unnaturally.

Throughout the book, he constantly mentions his struggle with addiction, mostly on the prescription Klonopin. However, it is not just the addiction itself that he dealt with, but also the tics and mannerisms associated with being an addict that made him respond to the rest of the world.

Tics and mannerisms are also seen in cats throughout the book. Galaxy makes note that they are territorial and always claim a small space for themselves, either from other cats or other occupants or strangers. When Galaxy was gaining weight, the cat that is the main focus–Benny–started developing his own eating disorder by refusing to eat or drink.

All of these mannerisms were shown in Benny, who was the cat at the center of Galaxy’s memoir, since he helped Galaxy to understand how cats truly functioned. Galaxy goes so far to refer to him as, to paraphrase, a gift-curse-friend-teacher. But, Benny also serves to have Galaxy reflect upon himself. This is especially true that since Benny was brought to him as a kitten who had no feeling in his lower body, Galaxy had spent years trying to figure out what made him behave the way he did, not just physically but socially. This experience of tending to a difficult cat was implemented in his own cat consultation practice, primarily since Benny made Galaxy question everything he knew about cat behavior and made him look into different avenues of cat care, such as cat chiropractic work.

In the second Chapter, he discusses the ethical dilemma which comes with euthanasia and the reason why the people continue to work there. In his experience, their love for animals is burnt out and they become numb to death, though as far as Galaxy is concerned, society places a difficult compromise when it comes to unwanted animals-especially in circumstances where there is not enough space or humans to care for them–is would you rather have them die knowing that they were loved by at least one person–who is the one who injects the blue liquid–or be left to fend for themselves as strays for the rest of their lives or live with continuous pain. This especially becomes relevant for Galaxy himself later in the memoir.

Not being in complete control over Benny’s health–indeed anything else–was also a major part of Galaxy’s source of conflict. He tried to please his father, tried to keep Benny alive, and tried to manage his addictions only to realize that he felt powerless. At the AAA meeting that he attended, he was given the advice to just get on his knees and recognize that the universe all around him operates as it is–though he did so in a quasi-religious way. He found that it worked through some of his most trying parts of his life.

Jackson Galaxy

He is a private animal consultant and host of the Animal Planet show My Cat from Hell. He spent much of his early life being a musician and never thought of becoming a “cat person.” It was only through experience working in the euthanasia center that he started showing affection towards our feline companions.

I was quite disappointed in not finding where exactly he got the name Jackson Galaxy. Was that his name as a musician, because considering how he had a unique appearance of dyed dreadlocks I would have thought he developed a unique persona? I am very fascinated by name changes, either professional or legal, since they reveal a person’s identity and the future generations of the Galaxy family who would try to live up to that name.

He does mention his family in New York, more so his father who was a Hungarian immigrant who owned a small business. He was an important person in Galaxy’s life and tried to do everything to live up to his standards. When he broke down in one of the worst moments of his life, he asked his father for advice which helped him get through it.

Writing Style

Galaxy has a very witty way of writing. It was almost as if Jackson Galaxy the song-writer was the one writing the memoir. Though his metaphors and similes that don’t relate to his cat career can be distracting, nonetheless I did like how he encapsulated an entire moment in a string of hyphenated words.

Throughout the book, Galaxy constantly uses the phrase cat mojo to describe his method of providing therapy towards any cats that are unruly or stressed.

Another theme of his writing that I found interesting was whenever he describes an episode involving the interaction between cats and people, he explains what makes the cats tic or react the way they do, as though he is in some form of interchronological conversation with himself from the past.

Real World Application

Upon looking at Jackson Galaxy’s appearance and academic credentials, it would be very easy to dismiss him as being “unorthodox.” However, since he was able to communicate with so many cats in such a way that even animal professionals have to take heed of, then there might be more to the story of cats than everyone anticipates.

As for personal evolution, it is clear that Galaxy had an incredible amounts of evolution, since he went from a struggling, drug-addicted musician with a Theater graduate degree to one of the most recognizable cat consultants on television. It is also about recognizing that no one can play god, since the universe operates as it is. Galaxy himself started viewing life-death as being transitional states of being.

As for the issue of euthanasia, Galaxy seeks to dismantle that dilemma by making his mission statement to make every cat not susceptible to euthanasia. He notes the progress that he made from the time he worked in euthanasia up to the time he published this memoir, which is that euthanasia has declined.

Suggest This Book To…

  • Anyone struggling with an addiction who is self-aware; as well as the people closest to them; since this memoir would provide a way to showcase that not only can addiction manifest itself in many forms but also can be reflected off the pets that are kept around.
  • Of course, I would recommend this to cat-lovers, since they would see the positives and negatives of one of the most well-known cat consultants.
  • Any animal scientist who focus on cats as part of their specialization, because they may not truly understand how exactly cats operate. A degree may not be important without some direct experience with cats, either in humane centers or even in a cat owner’s own home.

 

Galaxy, Jackson. “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean.” Tarcher-Penguin. 2013.

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