Anita has found her purr-fect role in life

Cat be­havourist claims ed­u­ca­tion first with de­gree

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Goolis­tan Cooper goolis­tan.cooper@trin­i­tymir­

A WOMAN has turned her love and pas­sion for cats into a ca­reer she thinks may have be­come an ed­u­ca­tional first.

Anita Kelsey is cat be­haviourist and groomer who be­lieves she is the first per­son to com­plete a work-based de­gree in fe­line be­hav­iour and psy­chol­ogy in the coun­try.

The 52-year-old who lives in Not­ting Hill stud­ied at Mid­dle­sex Univer­sity for three years and grad­u­ated with a First.

She said: “You have peo­ple that work in an­i­mal be­hav­iour but I think I’m the first per­son to com­plete the de­gree based on my work prac­tice.”

Anita’s choice to pur­sue a ca­reer help­ing trou­bled cats was not one she had planned.

She was a singer song­writer in the mu­sic in­dus­try for 25 years be­fore the sui­cide of a dear friend in 2009 prompted a change in di­rec­tion.

She said: “I suf­fered a bit of de­pres­sion af­ter that and I didn’t want to write songs or go back in the record­ing stu­dio.

“That’s when I started work­ing with cats. I ab­so­lutely love them, they’re just a huge pas­sion.”

Anita’s job mainly sees her groom­ing dif­fi­cult cats and as­sess­ing and help­ing with their be­hav­iour.

She is re­ferred to by vets in the area, and works closely with Ad­di­son and Hol­land Park Vet­eri­nary Clinic as a groomer for their most dif­fi­cult fe­line cus­tomers.

The owner of two cats said: “Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what I do be­cause there’s very few of us around.

“I don’t know of any other cat be­haviourists in Lon­don, and there’s only three cat groomers in Lon­don.

“Now I want to make my prac­tice known to vets around the coun­try.”

With­out giv­ing away too many of her se­crets for deal­ing with dif­fi­cult cats, she says the best way to help is to ed­u­cate the owner: “I show own­ers how to groom their cat so I get taken out of the equa­tion.

“I look at their lev­els of ag­gres­sion and as­sess, but the best way to help is to teach the own­ers.

“Cats may act hos­tile to me be­cause I am a stranger. It takes time and maybe a cou­ple of months with the owner do­ing small ses­sions with their cat at a time.”

Ob­vi­ously, work­ing with trou­bled cats doesn’t come with­out its risks, and Anita has been on the re­ceiv­ing end of a grumpy mog’s tantrum.

“There was one oc­ca­sion where a cat bit my hand and I was hos­pi­talised,” she said. “I had two op­er­a­tions and was in hospi­tal for about a week, and off work for eight weeks.

“The cat was very fear­ful and I had a lapse in con­cen­tra­tion. It turned round and bit me. I had to stop straight away be­cause my hand was paral­ysed.

“The client drove me to A&E where it was cleaned and I was sent home. But 24 hours later my hand had blown up four times its size so I went back and had my first op­er­a­tion that night.

“Cat bites are re­ally bad be­cause their teeth are teem­ing with bac­te­ria and in­fec­tion.”

But set­backs like that do not ham­per her pas­sion and love for her job. She said: “I know I’m in­cred­i­bly lucky. All I’ve wanted in life is to work in mu­sic or with cats. And now I’ve done both.”

To con­tact Anita visit her web­site: www. cat­be­

n PAWS FOR THOUGHT: Anita Kelsey has made a liv­ing through her love for cats. Above and be­low, Anita Kelsey busy at work

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