Michelle Sharpee is devoted to training and rescuing cats. She once had a job at Naples Zoo in Naples, Florida, working with tigers, lions and caracal cats. After learning about the number of domestic cats that wind up in shelters for treatable behaviors, she made it her mission to educate cat owners and anyone interested in cats about the importance of cat training to solve behavior problems. However, she knew it was important to obtain a professional certification to establish her credibility. It was then that she enrolled in Animal Behavior College’s (ABC) Certified Cat Training Program (CTP).
“I became a professional cat trainer to help owners and others better understand cat behaviors and teach them positive ways to correct unwanted behaviors,” Sharpee said, who graduated from the program last January. “With proper education and training, they can enjoy a more loving and harmonious relationship with cats which in turn decreases the likelihood that these cats wind up in shelters.”
It was the lack of training that led to behavior problems for a cat named Bernie. Last fall, the stray cat arrived at the clinic where Sharpee works with third-degree chemical burns. After treatment, he was placed in a cage during his healing process. Within days, Sharpee noticed a change in his behavior. The once calm and friendly cat started biting and scratching her and other employees. She knew that this behavior needed to be corrected or it would be difficult to find a forever home for him. She trained and worked with Bernie several days a week for two months using much of what she learned from her CTP studies.
“I discovered that he desperately needed more than just physical help but also mental stimulation; the poor cat was bored to death,” Sharpee recalled. “I taught him to sit, walk on a leash and with a harness and socialized him. Once his training was over, he received a new family for Christmas and was adopted on December 23 .”
The Cat Training Program has now been around for a year. With pet cats outnumbering dogs (85.8 million cats to 77.8 million dogs), the program provides participants with invaluable knowledge that equips them to start a cat training business. With more than 40 percent of dog owners also having cats, professional dog trainers have seen an increased demand for feline behavior counseling services. This program is not only ideal for dog trainers, but also veterinary hospitals and grooming salons looking to add this service.
“For many decades, dog training has been considered part of what responsible owners of dogs do. With an ever-growing awareness by cat owners that their beloved felines can and should be trained, the demand for professional cat trainers will grow significantly over time,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “Our Cat Training Program is relevant to anyone looking to establish a business helping cats and the people who love them enjoy better lives together.”
The distance learning program teaches students how to become professional cat trainers. The course covers numerous topics, including learning theories, training tools, preventing unwanted behaviors, safety techniques and practices, behavior management, feline care and nutrition and business building. The course also includes a shelter practicum, pet first aid and CPR certification.
“Cats have different individual personalities and training needs, just like dogs,” said Kimberly Kleinman, program manager for Animal Behavior College’s Cat Training and Dog Obedience programs and an animal behaviorist and educator who has trained domestic and exotic cats and other animals for TV and film. “It’s important that all animals’ care and training are focused on their mental and physical needs. By doing this, many behavior problems can be eliminated and even reversed.”
Upon completing the program, participants are certified by ABC as Animal Behavior College Certified Cat Trainers (ABCCT). Currently, there are 78 students enrolled in the program. As of February 28, 2017, ABC has graduated and certified 11 students from CTP and more than 25,000 students from its other three core programs combined including the Dog Obedience Program, Grooming Instruction Program and Veterinary Assistant Program. In addition, ABC offers specialized certificates of completion in five Short-Term Programs on subjects including pet massage, pet nutrition, pet sitting, training shelter dogs, and selling and teaching private lessons.
For more information about the Cat Training Program, call 800-795-3294 or visit ABC’s website.