A woman has turned her love and passion for cats into a career which she thinks she may have seen her become an educational first.
Anita Kelsey is cat behaviourist and groomer who lives in Notting Hill 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 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 have absolutely love them, they’re just a huge passion.”
Anita’s job mainly see 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 grumpy 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