By ABC’s Dan Harris and Ely Brown
At first glance, Jackson Galaxy doesn’t look anything like your stereotypical cat lover.
But this 275-pound, heavily tattooed, goatee-sporting, convertible-driving, guitar-playing dude is actually a successful feline behaviorist. He works with hundreds of families on the brink of giving up, and even considering putting down, their problem cats.
His serious mission is documented on Animal Planet‘s reality TV show, “My Cat From Hell.” In one episode, Galaxy worked with a feral rescue cat named Mini Bar, who would freak out, scratch and bite her owner. It took two weeks of play therapy with Galaxy before Mini Bar was coaxed into allowing her owner to pet her.
But Galaxy wasn’t always a soothing cat whisperer. Years ago, he was an aspiring rocker with a serious addiction problem to “pretty much whatever you threw my way,” he said.
“Alcoholic, prescription drug addict, I smoked so much pot it would kill a rhino,” Galaxy said. “Hallucinogens, coke, whatever came my way, whatever altered me, whatever numbed me.”
Galaxy said he took what he thought would be a mindless job at an animal shelter, until Benny, a cat who was brought in after being hit by a car, arrived.
“I learned how to speak cat working at the shelter, but I really learned how to speak it fluently through him,” Galaxy said. “Every day of my life with him I alternately loved him and wanted to throttle him. Every problem that people come to me now for he exhibited.”
He tells the story about his complicated relationship with Benny in a new book called “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean,” which is in stores and online now. Benny was partially the reason Galaxy said he decided to get sober.
“I made a deal with all the cats I was working with,” he said. “I didn’t really care about letting humans down. I cared about the fact that I built this life with animals completely out of the blue and I felt a responsibility. I would never have done it for me. I never would have done it for another human. I did it for them.”