…Don’t pretend you know all the answers when you don’t. Admit it if someone asks you something you don’t know. I don’t know everything about cats, and if someone asks me something and I know a better source for that information, I will tell them where to find that answer.
W had the pleasure to interview Rita Reimers.
Rita is the world’s most in demand cat behaviorist, and founding owner of Club Cattitude, Author Rita Reimers has devoted her entire life to understanding what goes on in the mind of cats (she has 19 rescue cats at home). Her rescue cats’ range in age from 14 years to 4 months, and for them all to get along well with each other all it took was a fundamental understanding of how cats act, what motivates them, and some patience to accomplish. In addition to her many years of cat rescue volunteer work and the running of a cats-only cat-sitting company, Rita specializes in Multi-Cat households and their unique challenges.
Rita writes a hugely popular cat behavior help and advice column called “A New Cattitude,” which is featured in every issue of Catster (previously known as Cat Fancy). In addition, she writes regularly for websites such as Chewy.com, Pet MD, and Pet Central. As a highly sought-after guest writer, Rita also provides her advice for pet care companies such as Litter Genie, Meow Mix, and 9Lives.
She is the author of “Sadie’s Heart, Loving and Losing Our Beloved Cat Companions,” a book where Rita shares the joy of the deep bond cat owners share with their cats, and the inevitable heartbreak of saying goodbye. Following the story of losing Sadie, Rita shares resources where people can get help with the grief of pet loss.
Rita is also the Founding Owner and President of Just For Cats Pet Sitting, with locations in Charlotte, NC, and Rock Hill, SC. Rita recently merged her Beverly Hills location with the celebrity loved Meowtel. Rita is a member of the Animal Behavior Society, a supporting member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), and is a Professional Member of the Cat Writers Association.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I always had a love for animals, especially cats. I started pet sitting for friends and family “on the side” back in 1998, inspired by the wonderful pet sitter I had in Charlotte when I was married and had to travel for work. I thought it was such a wonderful thing to do! I moved to LA in 2003, and immediately began offering my pet sitting services while I was still work in the Information Technology field and discovered that working with cats and their owners so rewarding. I found myself working 3 jobs (my 6-figure job in Info Tech, my cat sitting, and working as a producer on a live radio call-in show with Richard Simmons), and something had to change. I took my self on a 4-day vacation to Maui back in 2006, came back and quit my 6-figure job, and dedicated myself to cats, their owners, cat rescue, and educating people about cat behavior. I have never regretted it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I think the story of how I was given the Catster column is interesting. I had just moved to the Carolinas from LA to be closer to my parents, when I received a call from a company in Los Angeles that wanted me to shoot a series of behavior videos for them. Of course, I had to tell them that I was no longer in the LA area, so we thought this wasn’t a good fit for ether of us. Not long after, they called me back to tell me the person in charge of this project had also just moved to Charlotte (in fact she lived 5 miles from me!) so we were able to shoot the videos here. From that, I was offered the Catster column, and in fact my column was the cover story of the first issues of the rebranded Cat Fancy aka Catster. You just never know when things will align, even if you think it’s impossible. In fact, had I still lived in LA, this opportunity might never have happened at all.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
It’s so hard to keep a work/life balance in this industry, but if you don’t take time to recharge yourself then you won’t be able to help other people. It’s important to have other interests and take time off so you can continue to help those who need you.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Be yourself, be authentic. Don’t sell out to the mainstream and become something you are not, just to attract followers. Your tribe will find you, and appreciate your true self, just the way you are.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
WOW just one, I have read SO many books that have inspired me and kept me going when things got rough. A good friend gave me “20 Ways to Make Everyday Better” by Joyce Meyers, and that book really helped me stay in a positive frame of mind. It reminded me to be bold, take chances, and to be grateful even for the failures. Another book that has influenced me greatly is “Who Moved My Cheese,” by the late Spencer Johnson. Every time I re-read this book, I see it from a different perspective, depending upon what is going on in my life. Currently I’m reading Richard Branson’s “Like a Virgin: Secrets they don’t tell you at business school,” and I anticipate this become an important book for me as well. I would tell people to read books by people who are successful in all vocations, to give you a feel for what they went through BEFORE success came. What looks like overnight success was often preceded by lots of hard work and even some failures.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
5 Steps to develop serenity:
- Be your authentic self — people can spot a phony persona from a mile away. Always be YOU, even if you think no one is watching, because they ARE!
- Share your personal stories — I often share personal experiences about my own cats with my readers, so they see that I live by what I speak about and that even a cat behavior expert has issues with their cats.
- Forget about your critics — you will never win everyone over, so don’t even try. Your people will find you, and they will appreciate what you have to say.
- It’s never a good idea to tell people what to do. Lead by example, give them choices and ideas. Don’t preach to them, that is a turn off.
- Don’t pretend you know all the answers when you don’t. Admit it if someone asks you something you don’t know. I don’t know everything about cats, and if someone asks me something and I know a better source for that information, I will tell them where to find that answer.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
5 Steps to support anxious people:
- Listen to what they have to say, without speaking. Sometimes people just need to be heard. This is often true when people call me needing help with their cat’s behavior, too. Sometimes by just talking to me, they find the answer.
- Give suggestions only if asked, and then give more than one so it doesn’t sound like you are telling them what to do.
- Distract them by talking about other topics. For example, if we all keep talking about COVID-19, we’ll end up on edge and anxious about the uncertain. Don’t miss out on good experiences worrying about something you cannot change right now. TURN OFF THE NEWS for a while!
- Share positive stories with them about people who have persevered and succeeded during similar circumstance. Show them it’s not hopeless.
- Suggest positive books they can read to both, distract them and educate them about whatever topic is making them anxious.
- When all seems just too overwhelming, tell them to curl up with a kitty or two. They’ll feel better in no time flat! Seriously! It’s a great stress reliever.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
It depends on the level on anxiety the person is feeling. Talking to family and friends, turning off the news, getting involved in other things may be all someone needs to feel less stressed. BUT there may be other people who need to get medication from their doctor, or even talk with a therapist. Get help if you feel you need it, don’t worry about what you think others will say about it. Do what is best for you.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Strive to be like Tiffany & Co., not a discount store! I always told my cat sitters that when I was running Just For Cats Pet Sitting. We need to be that cut above, the Crème de la crème. “Good enough” is just NOT good enough!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Of course, read my column, A New Cattitude, in Catster Magazine and on catster.com, Also they can read my articles on Chewy.com’s Blog, petcentral.chewy.com.
The best place to find me is on my website, RitaReimers.com, where I write a Blog entitled “The Daily Mews.” Join our membership club on my website, Club Cattitude, where you can become part of a cat-loving community and get direct behavior help from me as well. There is exclusive written content and videos you can only see in Club Cattitude, you can listen to my podcast, 19 Cats and Counting, read my book Sadie’s Heart online (or buy it on Amazon.com), and you can win fun prizes too! We’re blessed to be sponsored by Litter Genie, Pretty Litter, The Cat Lady Box, Catster, and Spanglers Candy!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!