Animal Behaviorist Cat Specialty

For cat lovers, the idea of getting a job where they can work with cats on a daily basis sounds like a dream come true.

Individuals who decide to become an animal behaviorist with a specialization in cats will find that various opportunities abound around the country for them to live their dream.

Pet Psychologist

Pet psychologists, often referred to as veterinary behaviorists, offer their services to pet owners who are having trouble with a domestic pet. Some owners take cats that are unwelcoming to a new kitten to a pet psychologist to analyze the reasons behind this specific behavior.

Pet psychologists try to understand all the elements of the animal’s environment while searching for any triggers that may cause these undesirable behaviors.

Once the trigger has been determined, psychologists work with the owners to either remove or replace the trigger. While most pet psychologists work in veterinary clinics, some choose self-employment and establish their private practice.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements to become a pet psychologist are more involved than simply a four-year degree. Aspiring pet psychologists must first earn an advanced degree in animal behavior or biological sciences.

animal behavioristFor those looking to seek employment in veterinary clinics, most open positions require their applicants to ascertain a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine before being eligible for hire.

National law requires pet psychologists to continue their education beyond a university degree, pursuing their certification and licensing.

In order to legally work in the United States, pet psychologists must take the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME) as well as the required states exams they will be practicing under.

Beyond certification, an additional two to three years in a mentored training program is necessary before a pet psychologist is fully certified.

Career Outlook

According to recent studies conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of pet psychology appears to remain promising over the next ten years with an expected growth rate of 12 percent. The median salary for veterinarians and pet psychologists is $93,250 a year.

Animal Trainer

For those who love cats of all sizes, a career as an animal trainer gives individuals the opportunity to work with some of the largest cats in the world.

Traveling carnivals and circuses require professional animal trainers to work with the lions and tigers that perform on stage. Many movie production companies hire large cat trainers to work with the lions and tigers that are used for television or movies.

The ability to anticipate the needs and potential dangers of working with large cats makes this area of the animal behaviorist field very challenging but very rewarding. Animal behaviorists must be completely in tune with the animals they are working with to keep both themselves and those around them safe.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for animal trainers who work with large cats varies depending on the specific niche they decide to enter. Some employers may only require their applicants to have a high school diploma in order to be considered for vacant openings, while others will want to see evidence of post-secondary training and several years of experience. For individuals who are serious about pursuing a career as a large cat trainer, a handful of schools offer specific programs geared towards training individuals to work with large and exotic animal breeds.

Individuals also have the option of pursuing their bachelor’s degree in either zoology or veterinary sciences, which may open the door to higher paying positions later on in their career. Most employers looking for animal trainers to work with large cats will likely want several years of animal training experience from their job applicants. For entry-level animal trainers, experience will likely be obtained either through internships or volunteer opportunities at zoos and animal shelters.

Career Outlook

According to research conducted by the BLS, the median pay for all animal care and service workers is $19,970 a year. The growth rate for animal trainers over the next ten years is expected to reach 15 percent, which is faster than the national employment average. This growth is expected to add 35,400 new animal trainer jobs, with some of those jobs including large cat animal trainers.


A career as a zoologist can be very rewarding for those who like large cats, with the job entailing the study of interactions and habits of living animals. Zoologists often study entire ecosystems and observe the effects that one species has on another. An example of this is the study of mountain lions and their effect on small game species in the wooded ecosystems of Tennessee.

The majority of a zoologist’s day is spent outside collecting data that will later be taken back to the lab and analyzed. Zoologists often work for federal agencies or as professors at colleges and universities where they teach about the research they have conducted.

Educational Requirements

The minimum education required to work as a zoologist is a bachelor’s degree in organismal or general biology. This degree allows graduates to apply for entry-level positions with government agencies and collegiate research teams. Most zoologists decide to pursue their master’s degree or Ph.D. in zoology before entering the workforce. Earning an advanced degree allows graduates to work as a college or university professor.

Career Outlook

The (BLS) states that there are 20,100 zoologists working in the United States. The job growth over the next ten years is only expected to reach five percent, with zoologists currently earning a median salary of $57,710 a year.

For individuals looking to become animal behaviorists with a specialization in cats, the opportunities are abundant for all skill and education levels. From pet psychologists who help struggling pet owners with their house cats to animal trainers who work with lions and tigers on a daily basis, individuals who earn a degree in this field have various career opportunities available to them in a stable work environment.

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