About Me – Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado

Curriculum Vitae

Interviews and Press

Mikel Maria Delgado is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis where her research explores the behavior of cats in multi-cat households, and the health and development of orphaned neonatal kittens. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley, where she studied animal behavior and the human-animal relationship.

Mikel has worked professionally with cats for almost twenty years, starting in the Cat Behavior Program of the San Francisco SPCA, and more recently through her cat behavior consulting partnership, Feline Minds. Mikel is co-author with Jackson Galaxy of the 2017 book “Total Cat Mojo,” and has published her research in several academic journals, including the Journal of Comparative Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, Royal Society Open Science, the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare, and Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Mikel is recognized internationally as a cat expert, and she has been interviewed by the BBC, Washington Post, Quartz, Slate, National Geographic, the Atlantic, Newsweek, and Scientific American. In 2019, she was featured on the podcast Ologies, hosted by Emmy Award winner Alie Ward and gave a sold out talk, “The Science of a Happy Cat” at the San Diego Museum of Natural History.

Mikel is a co-owner of the cat behavior consulting business, Feline Minds and co-runs a website on enrichment for cats using foraging puzzles, called Food Puzzles For CatsIn her free time she obsesses over: cats, reading dystopian novels, baseball, punk music, vegetarian food, and her bicycle.

Mikel lives in Sacramento, California with her boyfriend and their rescue cat Clarabelle.

36 thoughts on “About Me – Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado

  1. Roberta Delgado

    Your wealth of knowledge astounds me. You answer so many questions that people have thought about yet have never searched on their own for the info. Keep up the great work and research. Love your blog.

  2. Hi Mikel,

    Hope you are doing well!

    We read your fascinating article on Cat Cafes (www.thedodo.com/cat-cafes-should-be-a-force-fo-499716333.html) and the potential benefits they could offer, and thought we should definitely get in touch.

    We are Great Kitten, currently crowdfunding for the World's 1st Cat Cinema - we're combining 3 of Britain's most loved: Cats, Cinema and a cup of tea to create a unique experience for feline lovers, film goers and coffee drinkers alike.

    More importantly, and very much in line with your article, we will be doing a lot of good for our local community.

    We feel that some existing cat cafes are very commercially-driven and don't give enough back. So we promise to actively assist the cat shelter we work with in advertising their rescue cats in-house and through social media. As well as this we will work to promote cat adoption and welfare around London and the UK through workshops and seminars at our venue and at schools in the area.

    Additionally, and something that really sets us apart, we will also give free 'Cat Therapy' to children and adults with mental health issues, physical and learning disabilities/difficulties (autism, ADHD, down's syndrome) and life threatening illnesses. Each of these groups has been proven to benefit from cat interaction.

    As a supporter of the Cat Cafe cause, we thought it would be good for you to know about our project. We will also be looking for assistance in our enrichment program in the near future so it would be good to keep in touch on that front too!

    Best Regards,

    Will and Paula

  3. Hi Mikel,
    My name is David Feldman, I host a radio show for Pacifica on KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. My program is also a very popular podcast. I enjoyed reading about you today in the Washington Post and was hoping you could find time to do a phoner this weekend for my show. We would work around your schedule.
    You can check us out at http://www.davidfeldmanshow.com.
    I promise to respect your time.
    By the way, my daughter used to host a radio show at KALX under the name Mama Burgundy. She graduated in 2012.
    David Feldman

  4. Regina Burdett

    Was wondering if you ever give advice in reply to an emailed question or if that would be handled solely through your consulting business. It's regarding an outdoor stray that doesn't appear to know what a litter box is for. As a result, I've not yet allowed her indoors. It's taken me many, many weeks to gain her trust and I'd really like to give her a home. I feed and water her, play a bit, give her TLC and she feels safe on my Florida lanai but will panic when a door is shut and she has no escape route.

    I sincerely hope you, Mikel, or anyone who happens to read this comment, can suggest what to do. Thank you so much.

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Hi Regina,
      I typically can only give advice via a consultation - even from your post I would have several questions I would need answers to to give helpful advice. Do you know where the kitty already likes to eliminate? Finding that preferred substrate might give you a clue as to what she might use in a litter box. I appreciate your love and care for this kitty - thanks for working so hard to gain her trust.

  5. Lionel

    Dear Miss. Delgado:

    Hello! I read an article posted by the Los Angeles Times "How do squirrels think? This Berkeley lab is studying the revered campus rodent to find out", March 28, 2017, regarding your research on Squirrels and their behavior at U.C. Berkeley. You're working on your Ph.D, and your advisor Dr. Lucia Jacobs.

    I applaud you for working on your Ph.D., because we need more and more Americans of Mexican, Spanish and Native-American decent to have Ph.D's and working Professionals free from corruption and greed. You inspire many of us whom are underrepresented and the underprivileged to reach higher in the social ladder and to level the playing field. Thank you!!

    If I may make a suggestion, as a Psychologist, why not STUDY human-beings; in regards to dating and social status? Is there a link between physical characteristics or appearance and social status? Is Social Exchange theory dead or alive? I urge you to study and hopefully find a cure for human-beings! (LOL). Just a suggestion!!

    THANK YOU!!!

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Thank you for your support! I have to admit I'm much more interested in other animals besides humans, but I appreciate you trying to convince me otherwise!!! LOL

  6. Congratulations on your new book, “Total Cat Mojo,” with Jackson Galaxy!

    I just saw him speak tonight (11/3/17) in Kansas City, Mo., and was delighted to both meet him and bring home a copy. My rescue dilute tortie, Symphony, is currently snoozing on top of it, but as soon as she moves I intend to start reading!

    As a longtime reacuer and a former goth/punk record store owner, I just wanted to thank you and Jackson for all you do for cats and for bringing great taste in music and a subculture sensibility and flair into what you do. It may sound silly, but it’s nice to see folk who speak cat and tat achieving success. You’re an inspiration.

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Thank you so much! Punk/goth and cats is a good combo in my opinion! I hope you enjoy the book, it was a fun project to be a part of and I hope it improves the lives of many cats!

  7. vincent catanzaro

    Hello Dr Delgado,

    I read your article in Scientific American,Squirrels that chunk. Im retired and look out my window a lot,but have an analytical mind.Theres a mystery about squirrels and black walnuts that needs to be solved.I lost my mother in 1999,she would sit on the front porch and feed squirrels all KINDS of NUTS.I do not feed the squirrels and have taken 150 of them in less than a year to Goat Island, (separates American and Canadian Falls). They come up concrete steps,climb the bricks to leave a black walnut shell on a concrete window sill next to my door.The squirrels have been doing this for 17 years!!! There is not a black walnut tree within a 10 mile radius!!! and there is absolutely not another human being involved. Would you explain this to me?Im not adept on the computer but would call you any time,any day at your convenience if you would like.


  8. Jennette Schuhmann

    I attended your presentation about keeping a peaceful kingdom in a multi cat household at Cat Camp NYC. I have 4 cats and I really learned a lot about what we can be doing better for our cats. Thank you so much for coming to Cat Camp and for sharing your expertise. I took so many notes and we have started doing some of the things we learned. I've also read the book ' Total Cat Mojo' and really appreciate your contribution to the book. The book is very easy to read and helped us so much with our cats. Thank you so much for your work and shared knowledge of cats.

  9. Steve Maier

    Hey, just saw your article about food puzzles in Catnip. We’ve been using a Catit food tree for about six months that I augmented with a ring and some vertically oriented PVC pipes. It’s the best thing that ever happened to our 20 pound problem child. He’s lost 2 pounds in that time and his activity level has gone through the roof. Nice work
    Hastings, Fla

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Steve, that's awesome!!! I have not yet seen the Catnip article. Check out the website I run with my friend Ingrid: foodpuzzlesforcats.com!

  10. Diana Henderson

    Hi Mikel,
    I would really appreciate your help. I have a 12 year old female cat & my daughter has brought home a 7 month old female. I have been following the protocols that I have read online. separate spaces, moving towels around with each other's scents, switching dishes, having them in their crates and moving them closer, I have feliway friends & felliway classic diffusers everywhere. I am letting them now both roam the house after 1 month. they are fine if they do not really notice each other or if they do not get in each other's space. The kitten wants to be in the same room as the older cat, she seems to want to be as near to her as she can. However, they don't seem to last too long until I hear hissing and the kitten runs away. I do not necessarily blame one over the other. But, sometimes it seems the young one might be more the antagonizer? Any suggestions? I would appreciate any help. Thank you.

  11. Liz Janssen

    Hi Mikel!
    My daughter, Lydia is going into 5th grade next year and needs to start thinking about a science fair project. She LOVES squirrels and we came across your "frustration" squirrel research while we were brainstorming. Do you suppose that there would be a way to create a similar experiment on an "at home" level with squirrels in our own back yard? Shes very keen to try to "train" a squirrel and observe it, or any other squirrel science you might suggest!
    Thanks, and best wishes from North Dakota!
    Liz Janssen

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Hi Liz!
      We used a specially made box for the study that could lock (but you couldn't tell from the outside). However, a simple caching experiment (do squirrels spend more time caching different types of nuts, for example) could make a lovely science fair project.

  12. Fernie

    HI Mikel!
    I am a veterinary technician in Austin who has been inspired by your and Jackson Galaxy's work. Thanks to that I've been able to improve my interactions with my feline patients. I would like to open a cat sitting business soon and later down the line start offering behavior consultations in my area. Do you have any recommendations on where or how to start training or getting certified? Do I need a PHD? I appreciate any guidance you may have. Thank you!

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Hi Fernie!
      I can't speak specifically as to how to become a cat behaviorist as there is no specific program that I know of that both trains and certifies someone. I worked full time in cat behavior department of the San Francisco SPCA for many years - but that was a pretty unique situation. I also have a Bachelor's and PhD in Psychology - but there are certainly other cat behavior consultants with different qualifications/don't have PhDs etc.

      It's always good to have lots of hands on experience with cats with behavior problems, but much of consulting work also involves problem solving and dealing with owners who may be under a great deal of stress or in crisis. There are some internet schools and courses, but frankly I can't speak to their quality/accreditation.
      Best of luck!

  13. Edward Motts

    Dr. Delgado,

    I recently saw the Nature program about squirrels and was very interested in your use of RFID devices to track nuts. I was curious whether the squirrels actually ingest the devices, or if (as my wife conjectures) they discard the RFID while eating the nuts.

    I know the RFID devices are small and probably would pass through the gut untouched, but I wouldn't want to eat one.

    Thank you, Ed Motts

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Hi Ed!
      They actually eat around the microchips and we were able to recover many of them right after the nut had been eaten. Thanks for asking 🙂

  14. Ely Valdivia

    Hi Dr. Delgado, I just listened to your episode on Ologies. This was the first episode I chose to listen to because I recently became a kitten mom. I was so inspired by your journey! Especially because I also have similar passions. I studied Sociology for my undergrad and as I approach my 30's I want to start studying science. I hope to shift in that direction in the next decade. More women and punks in the science field!

    1. Mikel Delgado

      Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words and congrats on the new kitten!!! If you have any questions about the transition back to school, don't hesitate to get in touch!

  15. Pingback:

  16. Pingback:

  17. Pingback:

  18. Pingback:

  19. Pingback:

  20. Keli Hendricks

    Dr Delgato

    I am a wildlife rehabber and I just read the article about the study you are doing on misdirected suckling in kittens. Wildlife rehabbers face this problem every year during baby season, especially with species like Squirrels and raccoons, but no one has come up with a fix for it.

    I have personally tried every pacifier known to man, both for humans (regular and premie) and animals (the Cattifier cat pacifier) but nothing has worked. I have also tried increased feeding frequencies, supplied large pieces of juicy fruits for babies to suck on, used separation bags, neck collars, squirrel bikinis as well as topical repellents like Bitter Apple, Bag Balm and Baby Anti- Monkey Butt diaper rash cream.

    Again none of these solutions really work that great.

    In desperation I even contacted the vets at Oakland Zoo and companies that make human pacifiers asking for advice but I haven't heard back yet.

    We are all so tired of treating injured penises and urinary tract infections in orphaned wildlife that any suggestions you can offer would be life changing for these animals and slews of exhausted wildlife rehabbers.

    THANK YOU!!!!
    Keli Hendricks
    707 479-7806


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *