I recently sat down with Montana native Janet Fleck, she is quickly making a name for herself in the field of feline therapy. Many people call her the Cat Whisperer, let’s find out why.
AAIM: So Janet, what is the secret to being a good feline therapist?
Janet: You have to make a connection, most therapists will sit or stand while talking to the feline patient, I know they don’t like that so I lay on the floor with them. And to win them over I will rub my nose on their scent glands. They are usually putty in my hands after that.
AAIM: So how did you get started in this field? Have you always loved working with animals?
Janet: Well, I took a correspondence course in feline husbandry, but I quickly discovered I was not very good at breeding cats. But because I spend most of my time alone, I found out I was really good at talking to cats and things kind of snowballed from there. And no, I don’t like animals, I can’t stand dogs. I also do not consider cats to be “animals” they are “fur humans.”
AAIM: Well can you go into more detail as to how you found out you had a talent for working with troubles cats …I mean “fur humans?”
Janet: Sure, I was at my friend Enid’s house, she has a six year old Calico that never really seemed to listen to my friend. Enid would tell “Billy” that’s the fur human’s name, to get off the table but Billy would just sit there and stare at her. Enid was about to throw a shoe at Billy and I told my friend wait a second let me talk to Billy. So I went over and got right in Billy’s face and said “Billy, you need to start listening to your momma, you are far too old to be acting this way” that’s when Billy made a squeak sound and slowly got off the table. Well right away Enid said I had a gift, she went and told all her friends about me and things just went from there.
AAIM: My friend has a ferret that doesn’t seem to sleep well at night unless my friend is in the same room, do you have any suggestions for my friend?
Janet: No! I told you I don’t like animals, tell your friend to get rid of that over-sized rat and adopt a fur human instead.
AAIM: Alright, I have a cat, err…fur human question for you then. My mom has an older fur human, and it really seems to be putting on the weight. My mom thinks it’s depressed and is worried about the fur human’s health. Any thoughts?
Janet: Your mom’s fur human is likely depressed and is putting on weight because of that depression.
AAIM: Right?, that exactly what I said, what should we do about it?
Janet: I would have to talk to the fur human in question, but likely the problem is your mother.
AAIM: Okay…Moving on. So what is something special you do that sets you apart from other feline therapists?
Janet: I have lived as a fur human for the last three years. I have a “pride” of twenty four other fur humans in my home. We do everything together. This is why I am the best at what I do.
AAIM: So you live as a cat? I mean fur human?
AAIM: Well I have never heard of anyone doing that before, I guess that’s why people call you the Cat Whisperer.
Janet: I will admit most people don’t understand it, the State of Montana even tried to get me committed to an institution, but I was able to prove to them that I am not insane. Besides even if they did lock me up my husband would have come and rescued me, he hates cages.
AAIM: Oh, you are married? What does your husband think of you living as a fur human?
Janet: Frank is very supportive, he is also a fur human as well.
AAIM: Your husband started living life as a cat, I mean fur human with you?
Janet: He is the one that actually got me started in it. It’s the only way he would agree to marry me.
AAIM: Your husband wouldn’t marry you unless you started living as a fur human?
Janet: That’s correct
AAIM: Don’t take this the wrong way but is Frank a cat?
Janet: Well of course he is, that’s why I had to start living as a fur human, he didn’t think our relationship would work unless I took that step, plus his mother is really old fashioned and she would have never accepted me the way she has.
Janet: We are thinking about having kittens, my biological clock is ticking.
AAIM: Oh, umm…Alright, we should probably wrap this interview up now.
Janet: Would you like to meet Frank? Maybe you guys could go hunting together? There are so many mice in the field this time of year.
AAIM: Oh…No, I need to get going, but thank you and thanks for doing the interview.
Janet: Suit yourself, and thank you, I’m glad I was able to chat with you.