Dr. Mikel Delgado, author of “Play With Your Cat! The Essential Guide to Interactive Play for a Happier, Healthier Feline”

by | Jul 3, 2024

Dr. Mikel Delgado–a certified cat behavior consultant and author, most recently, of “Play With Your Cat! The Essential Guide to Interactive Play for a Happier, Healthier Feline”—traces the path that preceded her status as a cat expert with a PhD, including dropping out of school and playing bass in punk bands, sharing stages with such luminaries as Sleater-Kinney and Mission of Burma. Delgado notes that she’s a longtime cat companion, even during her time as a touring musician, probably why she was amenable when a friend suggested she join him in volunteering at the San Francisco SPCA, a nationally-revered shelter that’s been caring for animals since 1868. (I’m pretty sure they’re getting the hang of it.) In Delgado’s telling, this S.F. SPCA gig proved pivotal. She not only loved the work, but in a development that may have foretold her current career, Delgado found herself drawn to helping the shelter cats that were exhibiting the most profound challenges, in the Cat Behavior Department. She recounts throwing herself into that realm, including reading every book about feline behavior she could get her hands on, and volunteering so many hours at the shelter that when a job opened up, it was practically automatic that she was hired. A while later, she decided to return to school, pursuing her undergraduate degree, then shifting to the extended quest for her doctorate, yielding a PhD in animal behavior and cognition from UC Berkeley. Research followed as a postdoctoral fellow at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as did a book, “Total Cat Mojo,” co-written with Jackson Galaxy. In this new book, “Play With Your Cat!,” Delgado emerges as an   enthusiastic—bordering on insistent—advocate for playing with your cat. We discuss that, even as a longtime cat cohabitant, I found the book absolutely eye-opening, a reaction I suspect will be widespread. At my request, she delivers an explanation akin to an elevator pitch on why it’s so important to play with our cats, articulating the crucial role it plays in maintaining their health and well-being. Additionally, Delgado explains how tightly intertwined cats’ powerful hunting drive is with their urge to play. Indeed, the book’s second chapter is entitled “Cats Play Because They Hunt.” Delgado addresses the types (not brands) of toys she recommends, and why—extensively explored in the book, which we should mention also features nifty illustrations by Lili Chin—and some of the many topics covered across the pages of “Play With Your Cat!.” Including, owing to a question emailed to me a couple of days before the show, how to integrate a new kitty into a household of existing cats—the question she’s most frequently asked in her cat consulting business, Feline Minds, and one that has too many variables to answer in a brief exchange on the radio. (https://mikeldelgado.com/, https://whatyourcatwants.com, https://www.instagram.com/mikel.delgado/, https://www.facebook.com/whatyourcatwants/) [Photos courtesy Dr. Mikel Delgado; Illustration by Lili Chin]

COMEDY CORNER: Joe Zimmerman’s “Crows” (http://www.zimmermancomedy.com/)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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