Frequently Asked Questions

I want to make sure that if you’re choosing to set up a consultation, you know what you’re getting into. I’ve set up the following list of the most commonly asked questions I get to help you make an informed decision. Use the buttons below to quickly jump to a section.

Services And Getting Started

What is a behavior consultation?

A behavior consultation is a meeting with a cat behaviorist, cat trainer, or another trained feline professional to figure how how to address and stop unwanted behaviors in your cat. By working with a feline specialist like Class Act Cats’ Joey Lusvardi, you’ll have someone who really understands cats, not someone whose focus is dogs but does cats on the side.

Consultations involve a thorough assessment of your cat’s behavior, their environment, and their history to figure out what may be going on. We then come up with an individualized plan together that fits your lifestyle, budget, and any other factors to give you the best chance of success.

These assessments help get an expert’s opinion on what is the root cause of the problematic behavior and how to address it. Addressing the underlying reason for the behavior helps prevent the behavior from occurring.

What kinds of cat behavior problems can you help with?

As a cat behavior specialist, Joey can help with a lot of cat behaviors. Some common examples of what he helps folks with include:

  • Biting
  • Aggression toward humans or other animals
  • Fighting cats
  • Introducing a new cat
  • Cat reintroductions
  • Cat and dog problems
  • Cat training
  • Litter box problems such as your cat not using the litter box or spraying
  • Preparing for a new cat when you adopt a cat
  • Excessive meowing
  • Over grooming/Excessive grooming
  • Scratching furniture
  • Chewing on plants, objects, etc.
  • Cats waking you up at night
  • Cats seeming depressed or unhappy
  • Attention seeking behaviors

Even if your concern isn’t listed there, Class Act Cats likely can help. Feel free to reach out with any questions.

What types of cats do you work with?

All sorts of domestic cats! Little cats, chonks, kittens, senior cats, long haired, short haired, pure breeds, mixed breeds… We love working with all kinds of cats!

We do not work with exotic/large cats such as tigers, pumas, cheetahs, or similar species.

Do you work with dogs?

The name of our business says what species we work with.

All cheekiness aside, we do work with dogs in situations involving both cats and dogs where the cat is the focus of the work. If there are situations where the dog requires help beyond what we can do, we may recommend a dog behavior consultant or dog trainer get involved. There are some great ones locally and there are some that use questionable methods. We’re happy to help you find one of the great ones!

Which service is right for me?

You probably want a behavior consultation. If you are looking for help with a specific behavior problem you want a behavior consultation. You won’t go wrong choosing a behavior consultation. If you have fighting cats, our reintroduction program (which starts out with a behavior consultation so they’re basically the same) is specifically designed for these situations.

If you want to teach your cat  fun tricks, cat training is the way to go. We also offer catification consultations and a package of sessions for new cat parents.

If you are looking for help with basic care care and preparing for vet visits, teaching your cat to take medication in a low stress way, or learning how to get your cat into a carrier, Easy Cat Care is for addressing those needs.

Still not sure? Feel free to contact us and we’re happy to offer suggestions.

How quickly should I get started?

We recommend a veterinarian visit for most behavior concerns and recommend completing this prior to scheduling with us. For litter box cases in particular, you should set up a veterinarian appointment before scheduling with us.

We recommend scheduling when you will be ready to commit to working with your cat and are positive you want our help. If you’re not ready to put in the work, we advise waiting to start when you have more capacity to follow a behavior modification plan. We also suggest you schedule your first session at a time when you will have time to address the problem in the weeks after our session if possible.

Will I be able to fix my cat's unwanted behavior in just one session?

This really depends on what we are working with and how much time, effort, and resources you have available to address the behavior problem. In most cases, we recommend at least 1 follow-up session. It is always a good idea to assume that you will need multiple sessions as cat behavior can be complex. Some problems may require more or some cats who have particularly complex situations may need some more help.

You should expect us to adjust the plan as we see what is working for your cat(s) so go into this planning to book another session.

How many follow up sessions do you recommend?

This depends on how much help you want or how complicated your situation is so it’s really hard to give an estimate. In general, the more severe the problem, the more problems you want to address, or the more cats you have, the more sessions you may need.

If you are looking for help with fighting cats, these situations usually require the most sessions to resolve. They can often take months to fix and we try to meet with these clients more frequently as it can be complicated to fix.

Follow up sessions are 45 minutes or an hour each and can be booked individually. You can also purchase a 30 minute follow up during your initial booking if you’d like. For cases involving cat conflict, 30 minute follow ups may be an option for those doing a reintroduction, but these require acceptance into our reintroduction program.

How do I know if I need professional help with my cat?

We have a blog post outlining when to seek cat behavior help and encourage you to read it as it outlines some things to take into account when deciding if you would benefit from calling in a cat behaviorist like Joey.

What is the difference between a behavior consultation and training?

Training is teaching a cat to do specific behaviors more frequently. Training can be done to prevent unwanted behavior or for fun. Examples of this would be training your cat to go to their carrier, get off a counter, or sit on cue.

Behavior consultations address more than just the behaviors directly as they look at the root causes of the unwanted behaviors. They may include training, but also include things such as modifying the environment or addressing . Behavior consults can address unwanted behaviors currently happening or to prevent future unwanted behaviors.

If you have a cat experiencing an unwanted behavior, you want a behavior consultation. This includes litter box cases as litter box training isn’t usually something we do as the problem isn’t a lack of training.

Will I be judged if I did things wrong or because I tried something you don't recommend?

Absolutely not! We don’t expect everyone to intuitively understand cats. We understand that people make choices when they’re desperate that may not be what they normally do and there’s a lot of really awful advice out there about cat behavior. You’re coming to us for help so we take that as a sign of dedication to your cat. We will be honest about things if you are doing something we advise against, but it’s never with a tone of judgement. Our goal is to help you address your cat’s behavior, not make you feel like a bad person.

Joey does have a somewhat sarcastic sense of humor so know that it may come out, but it’s never, ever meant in way to degrade you or make you feel bad. It’s just a personality flaw of his that won’t go away.

Do you guarantee results?

As cats are individual living creatures that all behave differently, we can’t ethically guarantee results. It’s against the code of ethics of some of Joey’s professional organizations to guarantee that any intervention will work. 

What we can guarantee is that if we are working together, we will work with you to adjust the behavior plan until we find a solution that works, or, if we don’t see a way forward, we will be upfront about that and make recommendations about the next steps. You will also leave knowing more about cats and your cat (or cats) in general.

If you aren’t okay with that, we don’t recommend scheduling a session.

Pricing and Booking Appointments

What are your prices? How much does a behavior consultation or cat training cost?

Please see Class Act Cats’ behavior consultation page and our cat training page for more information on prices. All pricing is directly available on these pages. Keep in mind that prices are by session so you will want to budget for more sessions, especially if you multiple behavior concerns.

For follow up sessions, you can book and see prices on our follow up page.

What are your hours and availability?

Our schedule varies from week to week and depends on when Joey has clients. Generally, you can expect responses to e-mails or texts between 9 am and 8 pm (though please give him a few days to respond).

For client sessions, we have daytime, evening, and weekend availability. In-home sessions have limited availability due to the extra travel time involved.

Check the Calendly event for the specific service you are looking to book as we keep our availability up to date. You can book virtual sessions 30 days out and in home sessions two weeks out. If the time isn’t available, chances are someone took that time already so please find another time that works.

Should I book at a certain time of day so you can see my cat's behavior?

No, book at a time that is convenient for you and anyone in your household who wants to join. I will have you get video of the behavior if needed. I don’t need to see the behavior in every situation as sometimes other things clue us in to what is happening.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept credit cards, bank transfers, Venmo, or (in some cases) cash. 

Note if paying cash: Payment is due upon booking and we cannot come out to your home without having received payment. If you would like to pay with cash, you will either need to catch us at an in person event or pay for your initial session with a different method. You can pay for follow ups in cash during an in person session.

Do you accept pet insurance?/Will pet insurance pay for your services?

Please ask your pet insurance company as coverage is up to them. Most insurance companies will list their requirements for coverage of behavioral interventions. The credentials you are looking for them to cover are the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) or a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (CCBC). Our prices are available on my website if they have any questions about cost. Our services have been covered by a few pet insurance companies, but we cannot guarantee coverage. Hint: You may require a veterinarian referral to get coverage which should be completed before you pay for your session.

If you know you are going to submit a claim to pet insurance, please send us an e-mail to let us know you want to book a session using pet insurance. We will have you book a different way using an invoice that has all the information you need. This will save you a lot of time later.

Are virtual appointments just as good as in person appointments? Should I do a virtual session or an in home session?

Virtual appointments are better. Yes, you read that correctly. They are not just as good as in home sessions, they are there better choice. You get the same thorough assessment, support, and behavior plan as you would for an in person appointment, but you also get a more accurate read of your cat’s behavior virtually as a stranger showing up will likely change how your cat behaves. We won’t see your cat behaving how they normally do so getting video of the behavior is more helpful than us seeing it life.

Still not convinced? We have a whole blog post about how great virtual sessions are that is worth a read.

What if I want to gift a session to someone or donate a session?

We can arrange a partial payment for a session as long as each party is paying at least $25. However, the actual client needs to be willing to put in work, change their own behavior, and interested in our help. If you are getting them a consultation but they aren’t interested in our help, we respectfully ask that you wait until they’re more open to making changes before booking a session. We will not issue a refund if the person you gift a session to declines it.

If you’d like to donate a session to a rescue or shelter, that can be arranged. Make sure that you have clearance from anyone in the organization who needs to approve us helping out and, if we will be working with a foster, that they want the help and are open to making changes.

If you are interested in this, please send us an e-mail.

If I purchase a package or need to reschedule my initial session, how long do I have to use my session?

6 months from the date of purchase unless otherwise noted.

If I'm not sure, can I book a consultation and then cancel it?

No. If you aren’t sure if you need a behavior consultation, we are happy to answer any questions before you get going (though please remember that our prices are available directly on my website).

Booking a consultation blocks off a lot of time so other clients can’t get in. For in home consultations, it also blocks off travel time so Joey can get to his next clients on time. He begin preparing for your consultation right away! (Unless you book in the middle of the night in which case he’s likely asleep) In many cases, we might contact you to begin offering some initial management steps before our meeting. Your consultation starts before we even meet so we begin providing the service you paid me for right away.

Because of that, all sales are final and are non-refundable. Consider carefully before booking your appointment and book when you are ready rather than booking and canceling. Please also see our cancelation, refund, and rescheduling policy.

What if I don't need all the time for my session? Can I get refunded for the remaining time?

Per our refund policy, all sales are final and we do not offer refunds for unused time during a session. The time is blocked off and we won’t be able to get anyone else in during that time. It’s your time to ask other questions about cat behavior if you’d like. Otherwise, you’re free to end the session early.

If there is an emergency that occurs during our session such as a power outage, we may make exceptions to this policy on a case by case base at our discretion.

Can I just ask you a few quick questions about my cat without booking a consultation?

No. We cannot and will not give out behavior advice until you are a paid client. It takes a lot of studying, training, and experience to develop a deep understanding of cats. Cat behavior is complicated so even straightforward seeming problems need to have a lot of factors taken into account before we can give out individualized advice or we may tell you the wrong thing if we don’t have a full idea of what’s happening. For a quick question or an easier to solve problems, a Zoomies session is a great option!

We provide cat education on our blog and offer small group workshops and speaking engagements on cat behavior so there are other options if you don’t want to book a full consultation.

What is your service area for in person appointments?

Our service area is within a 20 minute drive of Bde Maka Ska Playground located at 2707 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

The service area for in person appointments includes Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, New Hope, Brooklyn Center, Plymouth, Fridley, Columbia Heights, New Brighton, Fridley, Crystal, Robbinsdale, St. Anthony, Lauderdale, Roseville, Falcon Heights, Arden Hills, Edina, Minnetonka, and surrounding suburbs. Note that this area is subject to change so please ask if you’re interested in an in home appointment and aren’t sure if you’re within that area. We would rather you asked me so we can verify if you are in our service area rather than booking and us having to cancel the session and charge you an administrative fee.

Rarely does having me come out a second time make a ton of sense as I’ve already seen your space and met your cat(s) and most of what we do can be done virtually. Because of this, clients are limited to one in home session. If you have a really compelling reason you want us to come out a second time, you can certainly ask and we’ll consider it.

If you are outside our service area, we are unable to offer in home sessions. If you book an in home session and are outside our service area, your appointment will be canceled AND you will be charged a $20 administrative fee.

Can people outside your service area book a consultation?

Yes! Virtual appointments are an option for anyone in the United States, including areas outside the Twin Cities. If you are outside the US, we likely can help virtually but I will need to look into your particular country. Please contact us to verify first.

We are unable to offer in home sessions for those outside our service area. Please do not book an in home session if you are outside our service area or we will cancel your appointment and you will be charged a $20 administrative fee. Virtual consultations are better in the majority of cases anyway.

Working With Class Act Cats

What happens during a behavior consultation?

We have you complete some paperwork ahead of time to get basic information about you, your cat, your household, and more that will influence our plan. We may also ask you to get some videos or do some other homework prior to meeting.

You will meet (either virtually or in person) with Joey and discuss in more detail what is going on and do an environmental assessment. He’ll share his assessment of what the problem and talk about what he recommends doing. If there are things that sound like they won’t work for you, you can talk about ways to modify the plan. He may ask you to get some videos of the target behavior or directly have you do something with your cat during the session, though this isn’t always necessary. Sometimes it just creates extra work for you.

For virtual sessions, Joey may go over how to do something using a tool he has at home or demonstrate with his own cats to show you what you’re looking for.

If your veterinarian would like a summary of observations, we can also provide them with information or a letter with your permission. Please let us know if this is something you would like.

What happens after our session?

You begin implementing the suggestions and plan! We include any relevant handouts or resources that may be helpful to you following your consultation and am available for reasonable follow up.

It’s important that you follow up with us about how things are going. That doesn’t mean constant contact, but we advise clients check in at least once per week while we are working together. The plan may need to be altered based on changes in your cat’s behavior. Following up allows us to help you make changes and adjust the plan based on your individual cat(s).

What is included for follow up after our session?

Depending on the service you book, we include reasonable e-mail or text follow up. After that time, we need another session to talk things out if you aren’t seeing improvement yet. E-mail becomes ineffective and for more complex situations and people tend to have worse results if we try to do it all without meeting. Joey takes time to individually respond to e-mails. You’re not just getting ChatGPT cat behavior advice!

What is considered "reasonable" follow up?

Reasonable means that Joey shouldn’t have to write you a fifty page novel to respond to your e-mail. Follow up is limited to things related to your session and even then some things may be outside of what can be done via e-mail. There are some things that are more challenging to discuss via e-mail. On a case by case basis, you may either need to book another session or a short check in session.

For fighting cats: we do not do these situations entirely via e-mail. There are light things we can tweak, but you will need to follow up on a regular basis.

Do I have to book another session during the e-mail follow up period or can I book one later?

Nope! You are welcome to book a follow up session later if you’d prefer. However, it will need to be for the same problem and you don’t want to let too much time pass between sessions. If it’s been more than 2 or 3 months since your last session, you might need a longer follow up session. Anything over a year and you’ll probably want a full new initial session. We’re happy to help you navigate what to do if you aren’t sure.

How long will it take to see results?

We’ll start out by being up front about this: we don’t have a magic wand to waive to solve every cat behavior issue instantly. No one does and anyone who claims to is being dishonest.

This is best seen as a process and not a single moment in time. We may need to tweak the plan because we are dealing with living creatures, not robots. Each cat is unique so we get to know your cats over time. Some cats require more work than others.

You should go into this prepared to put in work over time and expect that it will take multiple sessions. Some behavior problems may take weeks to resolve and some may take months to resolve. Fight cat cases usually take months to solve.

What methods do you use to address behavior concerns? What if I don't want to hurt or scare my cat?

We take an approach called LIMA, or least intrusive, minimally aversive. That means that your cat’s wellbeing is a top priority. We focus on encouraging acceptable behaviors, environmental modification, and addressing the root causes of behaviors. This is scientifically the best way of addressing unwanted behaviors. It gets you what you want, builds your relationship with your cat, and is less work in the end. In other words, the methods we use will be both effective and kind to your cat. We don’t advise you use methods such as squirt bottles, remote punishers like Ssscat, or shock mats.

What if I don't like or agree with your suggestions?

Some of what we suggest may not be super appealing, be something you don’t want to hear, or may not align with your expectations (for example, you may hope for a quick resolution and we tell you it’s going to take longer to resolve). Some suggestions may seem counter intuitive or strange to people who’ve had cats their whole life. We will give you the best advice possible and be honest about our assessment. You are completely free to do as you please with what we suggest, though we encourage you to try the changes we advise. We’re making them for a reason.

That said, there does come a point where we don’t want you wasting your time or money working with us if it isn’t a good fit. We may talk about parting ways if we don’t see at least some willingness to try things or if we can’t see a successful way forward.

Veterinary Information

Are you a veterinarian? What if I have a question about a medical problem?

No, Class Act Cats is not a veterinary service. We cannot discuss medical concerns, make medical recommendations, prescribe medications, or make any medical diagnoses. Questions regarding behavior changes immediately following a procedure or due to a medication are best directed toward your veterinarian. We are happy to work with your veterinarian and implement any suggestions they may have. We can provide a summary of our observations for your veterinarian if they would like… Just ask!

If you are in need of a veterinarian, we recommend looking for a Fear Free Certified veterinarian or Cat Friendly Practitioner for your cat. You can also look for clinics that are certified as a Cat Friendly Practice or are Fear Free Certified.

Can you prescribe medications for behavioral issues?

No, a licensed veterinarian must determine if a medication is safe and appropriate. We can work with your veterinarian to help them make the determination if a medication can be used by providing observations or we may recommend you ask your veterinarian their thoughts on using a medication, but ultimately they are the ones who must determine whether a medication will be utilized. We can help with teaching you how to get your cat to take a medication or behaviors surrounding medication administration, but cannot recommend changes in dose, specific medications, or answer questions about the medication specifically.

This also includes recommending supplements like CBD. We recommend calling your vet if you’d like to discuss behavioral supplements.

Do you provide advice on nutrition or what diet I should feed my otherwise healthy cat?

This area gets a little murky as food and feeding can greatly affect behavior, but we try to leave this mostly to veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists. Generally, we do not touch nutrition with a 10 foot pole unless it seems the behavior problem is directly related to food intake. In that case, we may help you look at feeding guidelines and do a simple calorie calculation to make sure your cat isn’t being underfed. This always comes with the caveat that you should follow up with your veterinarian or a qualified veterinary nutritionist as it’s meant to be a starting point to determine one of many possible causes.

We do, however, talk about feeding behaviors and how to feed your cat. What’s the difference? We don’t provide a recommendation to feed a specific brand or type of food to feed your cat, but we do talk about timing of feeding, using a food puzzle or bowl, or stopping a cat from eating another cat’s food. We may also talk about treats or foods to use as part of cat training.

If you want to talk to someone who specializes in nutrition, the Feline Consultant does virtual nutrition consultations or you can find a veterinary nutritionist through the American College of Veterinary Nutrition

General Questions

How do I know that you know what you're talking about?

We don’t expect people to blindly trust us as anyone with a keyboard could set up a website and claim to be a cat expert. 

Joey is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. This certification is a big deal and takes a lot of work to achieve. He wrote over 60 pages on cat behavior for his application! He has significant training in the behavioral sciences including a degree in psychology, coursework through the IAABC, and experience working in behavioral health with humans (there’s a surprising amount of overlap despite being different species). For more information about his background, you can read more about Joey’s background. He also shared his own struggles with cat behavior problems that led him to get started working with cats professionally. I’ve gone through this myself.

Can cats really be trained?

Absolutely or certified cat trainers like Joey wouldn’t exist! Training cats is fun because cats can be trained to do all sorts of things. It requires some patience and needs a different approach than one would use for a dog, but cats are very receptive to training.

If you are looking for suggestions of tools to use, we have a guide on cat training tools that Joey uses when training his cat or clients’ cats!

Why is my cat doing __________?

The answer in many cases is “it depends.” It’s challenging to say 100% why a cat may be doing a particular behavior without doing a full assessment of their environment, your interactions with them, and their history. Many unwanted behaviors have complex causes so if you want to know why your cat does something, a consultation is your best option.

Should I rehome my cat?

In order to advise you on this, we need to understand your full situation. Please set up a behavior consultation. Getting cat behavior help from a professional is a great alternative to rehoming so we can potentially solve the issue and prevent the need to rehome!

We have a blog post with some considerations regarding rehoming that we suggest reading to help you decide.

 

Do you become emotionally invested in my cat(s)?

We already are. We love cats!

Will you come speak to my group about cat behavior?

Absolutely! Joey loves speaking to groups about cats (he was on the speech team in high school) so he is happy to come talk cats. We can also do small group workshops that are more interactive than just him blabbing about cats. For workshops, we ask that you have at least 6 people in your group.

To learn more, get a quote, and request Joey comes talk to your group, please see our workshops page

I want to surrender my cat. Will you take my cat from me?

No. Minneapolis has a lot of great local rescues such as Bitty Kitty BrigadeFeline Rescue, Twin Cities Pet Rescue, and many more that are able to help you. If you want to try to keep your cat in your home while you try to find them a new, loving home, Home2Home is a service offered through Pet Haven. Please contact one of them if you’re looking to surrender your cat as I cannot take them.

If you are unsure if you want to surrender your cat or not, we can help with that! Please set up a consultation and we can evaluate your situation.

Do you accept guest posts on your blog?

No. All e-mails about guest posts will be ignored as will any cold e-mails about marketing, SEO work, etc.

How can I get in contact with you if I have other questions?

You have your choice of whichever method works for you: