Carole Wilbourn, Cat Therapist

Photo: Spencer Heyfron

What does a cat therapist do?
I help people with their cat’s behavioral problems, like their cat isn’t using the litter box, or a guy just moved in with his girlfriend and his cat hates her, or there’s a new baby and the cat isn’t getting along with it. I find a way to make everybody like one another.

Are city cats more neurotic than country cats?
They can be, depending on the people they live with.

How many cats do you have?
Just this one, Orion.

Do you live alone with him?
Yes, I’m divorced, from a veterinarian.

Did Orion have to be put through therapy?
Actually he did. Post-traumatic-stress disorder. Three years ago he was left at a shelter in San Diego. He was aggressive and smelled. They gave him 35 baths, to get rid of the smell. They thought he was neutered because they didn’t see anything, but he was really a tomcat.

Now is he a nice cat?
Oh, he’s a lovely cat, but there were some issues. He’s had panic attacks. He used to only eat in the bathroom—I had to sit with him while he ate. He had eye problems. He drooled. But as of a month ago, nothing. It’s very beautiful.

Do you think people develop unhealthy attachments to their cats?
Yeah, and I think it’s okay as long as they’re not doing injustice to the cat. Occasionally, you find there’s this co-dependent kind of thing. I tell the people, you just have to let your cat have its own space. It isn’t that your cat doesn’t like you. You’re just running after it too much.

Carole Wilbourn, Cat Therapist