The Cat Doctor Is In

She’s the cat’s meow – Dr. Kerry Hyde addresses animal psychologyKerry HydeThe Doctor to Consult for Purrfect Behavior

After completing her degree in ethology – the study of animal behavior – with a concentration in domestic feline behavior in October 2006, Dr. Kerry Hyde set about making a name for herself in the Tallahassee area as a feline behaviorist. Now with almost a year under her belt, she has managed to find a niche among local pet owners.

“We (humans) learn the same way that animals do – through association,” Hyde said. “So a lot of what I did learn in human psychology applied to the concepts of animal behavior.”

As a self-proclaimed animal lover, Hyde said she always has been around animals. She spent several years pet-sitting and then started her CatPsych business to provide cat owners with a way to understand their cat’s mysterious behavior. Offering both over-the-phone and in-home consultations, Hyde addresses many unwanted behaviors, such as cat-to-cat aggression, scratching and litter box issues. For more information and consultation fees, visit Hyde’s Web site at

Sitting down recently with Tallahassee Magazine writer Erica Bailey, Hyde talked about how one becomes a cat psychologist and some things she has learned along the way.

TM: Is this what you always wanted to do?

KH: Actually, physics was my first love. I wanted to be an astrophysicist, but I couldn’t do the math. I had been pet-sitting for years at that point, and my mom brought it to my attention that I was always giving behavior advice to my clients. I knew I wanted to do cat and dog behavior because I see so many owners just not understanding how to train their cats and dogs.

TM: What kind of classes did you take?

KH: When I did get to the doctoral program (at the distance-learning Bircham International University), I was taking much more in-depth classes – animal psychology, animal behavior, learning and cognitive psychology … and nutrition. The zoology and psychology departments came together and formed it because it was something new. It was hard for them to come up with classes because I was the only one studying animal behavior in a natural environment, where it wasn’t experimentally based.

TM: As a cat psychologist, do people take you seriously?

KH: I still get laughed at. Thirty years ago, I don’t think I would have gotten as much business. People had a much different mindset – we wanted to punish our animals if they didn’t act right. Nowadays, pets are viewed more as family, not as property. They want to know, “How can I get my cat or dog to change its behavior to how I want it?”

TM: What are your consultations like?

KH: I sit down and talk to the owners. I normally bring a consultation form and they fill it out (while) I walk around the house. I draw a little diagram of the house and note where the feeding stations are at, where the litter box station is, the scratching post, the napping area. I note the body language of the cats that are there and how they’re interacting. Then we get together and fully discuss the whole problem. I basically draw up a behavior modification plan for them.

TM: What is the most common problem?

KH: Litter box problems – they don’t want to use the litter box.

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