top of page

FAQ

What is the difference between a veterinary behaviourist, a clinical animal behaviourist and a cat behaviour consultant?

In the world of animal behaviour there are several professional titles that one might come across: veterinary behaviourist, clinical animal behaviourist, and more generic cat behaviour consultant or behaviour expert. It is very important to set some clarity around all these titles and making sure that cat owners are in the position of consciously choosing the best professional for their needs. Each of these professionals plays a distinct role in helping understand and manage cat behaviour. The qualifications and regulations surrounding these professions can vary significantly depending on the country. Unfortunately, while the qualifications and regulations are usually very clear for veterinary behaviourists and, in certain countries, for clinical animal behaviourists, the situation is very unclear when it comes to self proclaimed cat behaviour consultants or experts.

 

In Switzerland and in most other countries, a veterinary behaviourist is a qualified veterinarian who additionally holds a diploma in behavioural medicine (Dipl. Verhaltensmedizin STVV), signifying rigorous training and expertise in the field. These professionals are veterinarians who have undergone additional specialised training in animal behaviour and behavioural medicine. This qualification allows them to diagnose and treat behavioural problems that might  have a medical root cause, as well as prescribe medications in addition to behaviour modification techniques.

Veterinary behaviourists are uniquely qualified to handle complex cases that involve physiological issues contributing to behavioural problems. They are often and should be consulted when pets exhibit behaviours that cannot be managed through training and environmental changes alone, such as severe anxiety, aggression, or other disorders that may have a biological basis.

In Switzerland, veterinary behaviourists are the only recognised professionals qualified to deal with animal behaviour problems.


In the UK, clinical animal behaviourists usually hold advanced degrees in animal behaviour or a related field and are accredited by a recognised body, such as the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) or the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC). Unlike veterinary behaviourists, they don't necessarily have a veterinary medicine background, but they possess a strong foundation in the science of animal behaviour.

Clinical animal behaviourists work with animals to address behavioural issues through behaviour modification techniques and environmental changes. They usually work on referral from a veterinarian to ensure that any medical issues are addressed prior to implementing behavioural strategies. This role involves a comprehensive approach to behaviour modification, utilising evidence-based practices to improve animal welfare.


A cat behaviour consultant may not have as formalised training as the above professionals but should have a strong background in feline behaviour through experience, self-study, and less formalised training programs. It is very important to being able to identify reliable and scientifically founded cat behaviour consultants.  Being this a non-regulated industry, there are a few associations worldwide, such as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), which aim at setting industry standards through various types of certifications.  Cat behaviour consultants often work independently or as part of a pet behaviour counselling service, providing advice to cat owners on common issues such as scratching, litter box problems, or multi-cat household tensions.

The focus of a cat behaviour consultant is primarily to provide preventive advice and suggestions on how to effectively modify the cat's environment and use positive reinforcement training to improve behaviour.  While cat behaviour consultants can be easier to find and more affordable than veterinary behaviourists or clinical animal behaviourists, it is extremely important to make sure that they operate following high level of industry standards, that they use training methods up-to-date with the latest scientific findings and based on positive reinforcement. A serious and well educated cat behaviour consultant can be very useful in helping cat owners in navigating everyday challenges with their feline friends and getting the best out of their relationship, as well as in preventing behaviour problems.

What kind of cat behaviour expert are you, then?

At the moment, I am a cat behaviour consultant and trainer who completed a few international training programs which are well-known in the industry, namely the Diploma of Feline Behavior Science and Technology (Dip.FBST) at the Companion Animal Science Institute (CASI), the Cat Behaviour Consulting certificate (Katzenverhaltensberater Ausbildung) from the Akademie für angewandte Tierpsycho­logie und Tierverhaltens­training (ATN) and the Fear Free Animal Trainer Certification program from Fear Free Pets.

I am also a member in good standing of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and I am working towards getting certification there as a cat behaviour consultant in the near future. I am also a member of the Berufsverband der Tierverhaltensberater und Tiertrainer (VdTT).

All these training programs and associations are based on the latest scientific evidence in animal training and commit to the use of non-aversive and positive reinforcement-based methods.

In addition, I am excited to share that I have recently received an unconditional admission offer to the MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at the University of Edinburgh (UK), which I will start in September 2024. This is literally a dream of mine coming true and I look forward to devote myself to this fascinating program with the aim of becoming a certified clinical animal behaviourist in the longer term.

Outside of cat behaviour, I have a very strong scientific background, holding a BSc, MSc and PhD in Physics.

 

What kind of training methods do you use?

We use positive reinforcement techniques that encourage desired behaviour through rewards like treats, praise, or play. Our methods are fear-free, cat-friendly, and aimed at strengthening the bond between you and your cat.

 

I would need a behaviour consultation, but I cannot afford it. Can you help me?

If you feel you need a behavior consultation for your cat(s) but are concerned about affordability, we understand and are here to help. We offer reduced pricing for rescue organisation workers, students, retired individuals, and those with limited income. We believe everyone deserves access to quality care and support for their feline friends. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your situation and how we can assist you. Our goal is to ensure that every cat and owner can benefit from our services, regardless of financial circumstances.

Which languages can you speak?

We can carry out behaviour consultations in English and Italian. We also speak German, although in a less proficient way.

bottom of page