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From Cat Boy To Cat Daddy: The Jackson Galaxy Story

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From Cat Boy To Cat Daddy: The Jackson Galaxy Story

By Layla Morgan Wilde

Jackson Galaxy has had a hell of a year. Almost a year ago, I chatted at length with the cat behaviorist/host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell for one of his earliest interviews. His TV show was about to air and I sensed this was a man on the verge of skyrocketing to meteoric heights. A freshly inked book deal sealed his fate. That book, Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean will be published on May 10.

His publisher, Tarcher/Penguin sent me an early uncorrected proof which I devoured in one sitting. I will be doing a formal book review once I see the edited version. Jackson lamented, “It’s torture not being able to change anything more but it’s gone to print.” And so we began another long chat the other day about the book and how life has changed for him.

Jackson Galaxy-cat wisdom 101-2012

The self-described people-pleaser admits to being “scared shitless” about his personal demons being aired for all to scrutinize. “I’m embarrassed that people will see me exposed.” The book is essentially an addiction memoir peppered with cat behavior tips. Keep in mind, this is a man who has a masters degree in acting, is a lifelong performer (busking with a guitar in New York at age 14) who describes himself on page 61 as a “narcissistic bullshitter.” The book may have a few detractors but Americans love stories of redemption and surviving against the odds and his story is a good one.

A year ago, as a complete unknown cat guy/musician eking out a living while battling demons, Jackson had 300 friends on Facebook. He now has over 25,000 Facebook friends, an agent, manager, assistant, a polished, branded Web site, a new home, and about to begin filming season four of My Cat From Hell in couple weeks.

He claimed to hit his stride towards the end of season two of My Cat From Hell and is bracing for the grueling filming schedule ahead, working 12 hour days, six or seven days a week, book-ended by a book/media tour mid-May. “I wish I could get by on corn chips and Mountain Dew like I did in college.” He gets by on double Venti or other caffeine.

Like millions of other Americans, food was Jackson’s first addiction, something he continues to battle today. The tipping point for him came when he tipped the scales at four hundred pounds and almost died. Gastric-bypass surgery saved him as did A.A. He now tries to eat healthier, exercises, stopped smoking and yes, we will see a slimmer Cat Daddy in season four. Twenty couples and their cats will be showcased in ten episodes including one couple from New York.

So what drives Jackson Galaxy and how did he go from “Cat Boy” to “Cat Daddy”? “I wanted to be the biggest rock star in the world but the universe had other plans for me. If I’d succeeded I’d be dead now.” He sees his work with cats a blessing and his redemption. “I get to help animals and animals saved me.” The main animal in question is Benny, a gray and white foster cat from the time when Jackson worked at the Humane Society of the Boulder Valley in Colorado. It’s where he earned the nickname “Cat Boy” for his affinity for cats. This was his day job while pursuing his dreams of singer/songwriter/rock star.

cat-daddy-Jackson galaxy-benny
Jackson Galaxy with Benny

Benny, with a broken pelvis was a survivor and the stars aligned despite Jackson’s initial protestations about adopting him. It’s Benny, who over the course of 14 years helped Jackson to gradually see the light. But things got a whole lot worse before that happened. Name the demon, Jackson had it: alcohol and drugs from weed, coke, mushrooms, you name, it had Jackson’s name on it. Even after he cleaned up the drugs and alcohol he remained hooked for ten years on the anti-anxiety med Klonopin. Coming clean took time and like all those in recovery continues one day at a time.

He says, “Addicts have a mortal fear of being present. I don’t have a formal meditation practice so I write, scribble song lyrics as my meditation.” He longs for the day when he can return to a recording studio and lay down tracks for perhaps his life’s third act. He knows this is his time to shine and plans to make the most of it while making a difference in the lives of cats.

What drives the “Cat Daddy?” To use his celebrity to get his message out there:Neuter/Spay. No kill shelters. Anywhere. Period. This passion stems from his days working in E/C (euthanasia/cremation)at the shelter. Seeing perfectly healthy, adoptable dogs and cats killed for preventable reasons stuck in his craw.

Now that Jackson stands at the verge of greater celebrity, there’s a push/pull of ambivalence; wanting recognition while hungering for privacy. His inner rock-god chafes at being recognized as “the cat guy”. “I love that they say they love the show but I wish they’d say, “that’s Jackson Galaxy!”

“Careful what you wish for”, I gently chide, “What makes it all worth while?”

He recounts two recent events. “Two months ago I had brunch with Anitra Frazier. I finally met her in person.” It was Frazier’s book The Natural Cat that became Jackson’s bible and ersatz mentor as a fledgling cat behaviorist. His voice deepened in reverence, “She wrote this beautiful blurb for the book and we’re friends now.”

Frazier writes about Galaxy’s book:“Each of us sheds light on our subject from our own particular point of view. Fortunately for us all Jackson Galaxy’s light is very bright. His success at resolving behavioral difficulties in cats stems from his ability to slide his mind into the cat’s point of view and proceed from there. His insights into both human and cat behavior are right on.”
I couldn’t agree with her more. I say this as cat behaviorist and a life coach who has worked with many addicts. After a lifetime of feeling like a fraud, of shame and self-loathing, having good things happen is validating and a sign that you’re living your truth and embracing your life purpose. For Jackson Galaxy, the cherry on the cake moment came at a recent fundraising event in San Francisco. He raved about how amazing it was, but best of all, a shy little girl about nine came up to him and said, “I want to do what you do when I grow up.” The “Cat Boy” had become the Cat Daddy.

For every copy of CAT DADDY pre-ordered before May 10, Tarcher/Penguin will donate $1.00 to the cause of saving shelter cats. To make your preorder count, simply e-mail your receipt (or a photo/scan of your receipt) to: [email protected].

Charities will benefit: Best Friends Animal Society, Stray Cat Alliance, and Neighborhood Cats.


  • Hairless Cat

    Love reading about Jackson Galaxy. Who would have thought that something good could ever come out of working in the euthanasia/cremation area of a shelter? Just goes to show ya.

  • Caren Gittleman

    Layla NOW I could read this and it was simply superb!!!
    Jackson had better begin to adjust to his success because this is going to be a way of life for him.
    My biggest demon is yes, I am an OUTDOOR SMOKER…(I don’t smoke indoors) it is my Achilles heel, nothing like Jackson’s addictions (well I am always working on my food issues) but it is a simply vile Achilles Heel to have.
    I am drawn to complex people and I am intrigued by the depth that is Jackson Galaxy

  • Dianna

    I’ve never had an addiction (unless you count Diet Coke, so I’m sure I can’t begin to know the torment. I wish Cat Daddy continued success.

    And I’m SO excited to be the winner of the Giveaway. It’s my first time winning a blog giveaway. Look for a post about it once I receive the books!

  • Gina Long-Boekhout

    Just love this real life story! Cannot wait to get my hands on his book & thoroughly enjoy Jackson’s show! What a great article that is filled with info & gives us a few more details on his life. Sheesh-I bet he really IS so incredibly busy with his life now — In all good ways, but I wish him the best & hope that stress from zipping all over doesn’t get to him 🙂

  • Ana Grupke

    Layla, thank you for a great story! The world needs more guys like Jackson Galaxy, who slays demons…in himself and in cat “guardianship”…Grateful blessings to you both 🙂

    • boomermuse

      Tamar, your support means a lot to me.
      @Rumpydog, wise concern for anyone going into a media frenzy.
      @Chey, we look forward to your review.
      @Katie & Glogirly, thank-you! I think you’ll find it entertaining.

  • Jill Delzer

    Hi Layla-

    Jackson will be filming Season 3 starting in April. ::fingers crossed:: for a Season Four later this year.

    I can’t wait to read the entire book myself. Thanks for the great article!


  • RumpyDog!

    I didn’t know alot of that stuff about this guy. I hope he’s doing the things he needs to do to stay grounded, and takes care of himself. This media frenzy won’t last, but he can be a champion for kitties for many years to come.

  • Cheysuli

    We are so excited about getting to read the book. The Woman doesn’t have that sort of demon in her past (just food which is bad enough when you are a healthcare provider because she continues to have issues with it). How exciting to talk to Jackson Galaxy!

  • Glogirly & Katie

    This was wonderful, Layla… I absolutely loved your post and take on Jackson, er, I mean Cat Daddy. He’s the real deal, and learning more about him only puts him higher and higher on my respect and admiration scale. I can’t wait to get my hands, and Katie’s paws, on Cat Daddy!
    : ) Glogirly & Katie

  • Kathryn

    I think the whole world applauds Jackson for getting it all out there. It is easier to face the demons and spreaad them to the world and let them go than it is to keep them inside. He truly is gifted, both within himself to have done all he’s done for cats and for himself — and also gifted with cats and gifted with friends like you.

    So so so important. Ched and Mao and all of us appreciate all the support from cat lovers.


  • Kathy Thompson

    I think Jackson is a great guy demons and all. I think the experiences that he has went thorugh probably helped him to realize that he ,like the cats he helps, needs love,patience,understanding,gentleness and lots of play! In true feline fashion he is hesitant to show whats inside to the world. I hope that he realizes that the world can be cruel and judgemental but if you truly learn to love yourself then no one has the power to hurt you. If you have a cat there is always someone that will listen to you without judgement or fear and will still love you even if you aren’t perfect. Much love to Jackson and all of the folks out there that fight their demons daily and never give up. Skeeter and Izzy >^–^<

  • Nadbugs

    This is a strange world, where I can feel completely connected to a guy like Jackson, and to you Layla, both of whom I’ve never actually been in the same room with. I’m not asking questions. This companionship is balm to my spirit, my heart, and my resilient ability to put one more foot in front of the other despite and in spite of. And not only that. This companionship does work. The work is learning by example and by doing. And the joy that comes from that, when, as I write this, I hear my two cats rumbling around together (doing destruction and damage to the physical plant) has no bounds. Those two cats are brothers now, where they began in this house as mortal enemies. That amity is a direct result of Jackson’s and your knowledge and both of your generosity with that knowledge. Companionship and example and learning yield RESULTS and those results yield HAPPINESS. Hands and paws across the airwaves, to you and to Jackson.

    • boomermuse

      This is what the work is all about. Peace,love & purrs to you.
      @Kathy, wise words as always: “…if you truly learn to love yourself then no one has the power to hurt you.” That is the core message all addicts struggle with.
      @Kathryn, it’s an act of courage but liberating. Perhaps this why the addiction memoir genre continues to grow.
      @Deb, I feel the same as you and hope he can keep grounded during the whirlwind time ahead.

  • Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey

    I always respect someone who has been to the deepest and darkest places that life can take us, and then find the strength to not only get through it, but to use it as a vehicle to become not only a better person, but to find passion in something else – in this case, to help cats. We are not a perfect as people and it is not easy to share your flaws with the whole world. I applaud him and wish him all the success in the world.

    My only concern, when I had the opportunity to speak with him at the beginning of this year, I joked that his quite days of privacy and bonding in small settings with cats one-on-one were soon to be over. I could see he was going to be a sensation very soon. I could tell that he was struggling with that, and seemingly still is… I hope he can find a peaceful middle ground in all of this.

  • Ingrid King

    It takes a great deal of courage to write a memoir. The cats of the world and those of us who love them are fortunate that Benny came into Jackson’s life and guided him toward the work he’s doing now.

  • Brian

    He is such one cool dude. We hope to learn from him so we can help Sister Precious adjust. I will have to go hunting for my receipt because I pre-ordered the book too. Have a great Easy Sunday!

  • Anne from

    Jackson is a fascinating guy and yes, it does take a LOT of courage to open up your life like that for public scrutiny. I’m sure people will be very supportive though: like you said, people love redemption stories. And what’s better than being saved by the grace of cats?

    • boomermuse

      Anne,thank-you and beautifully said:And what’s better than being saved by the grace of cats?
      @Brian, thanks for pre-ordering. Happy Easy Sunday to you and your furry purrys.
      @Ingrid, thanks and it truly is blessing.

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