Cat behaviorists are trained feline caretakers and domestic animal specialists. This realm of animal consultancy focuses on the manipulation and adjustment of negative behaviors in domestic cats through expert observation, interaction manipulation, the establishment of new reward systems as well as dietary modification.
According to 2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm animal caretakers earn an annual mean wage of $22,070. This figure translates to $10.61 per hour before deductions for taxes and benefits. Industry data from 2011 indicates that cat behaviorists can earn upwards of $250 per consultation which is usually inclusive of a behavior analysis, implementation of a behavioral adjustment program and follow-up period. Cat behaviorist programs can involve four-to-six-weeks of work depending on the severity of the problem.
Factors Affecting Salary
Factors affecting the earnings of cat behaviorists include experience, certification, severity of the feline's behavioral malfunction and geographical location. Because of the relatively low wages in the profession, many cat behaviorists conduct their practice in addition to other professions. The leading certification board for cat behaviorists is the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).
Salary By State
The BLS geographic profile for non-farm animal caretakers indicates that New York and California lead the national in annual mean wage for professionals in this employment category. New York animal caretaker professionals earn $24,010 annually, or $11.54 hourly when translated to a 40-hour work week. California animal caretakers earn $23,850, or $11.46 per hour before deductions. States reporting low income for this employment category include Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Relevant Background and Experience
Certification as a professional cat behaviorist by the IAABC requires a minimum of three years in animal behavior consulting and 500 hours of related coursework.Cat behaviorists are also well-versed in feline veterinary science in addition to human counseling skills and social system assessment, in order to accurately analyze pet owners. Cat behaviorists must also posses experience in feline training methods, including shaping, clicker training, prompting and compulsion evaluation.