Coaching a CAT – A story about how to coach the person


This really happened, I do not remember the name of the coachee (or the CAT), so we'll just call her Suzy.

We sometimes organize “open coaching circles” in which people can walk in and enjoy coaching. with you, the coaches from this community. In came Suzy and she had observed a coaching session or two in the meeting and wanted to be coached. I was “volontold” by my colleagues to demonstrate good coaching skills, and so there I went!

She started off with this :

I have an impossible subject for you, it is about my cat…He needs to become more close to us..

Although I could hear the thoughts of the observers go “How the heck is she going to coach herself out of that one?” I slipped back out of my discomfort and started coaching Suzy. I took a good 7 minutes exploring her initial subject before focusing on on creating a solution with her in the session:

  • Tell me about the Cat, what is happening with the cat? 
  • What type of Cat is it? 
  • Showing my interest in both the CAT, and Suzy her perspective of the CAT.

She explained she wanted the Cat to be more cuddly and attentive, and wanted the cat to be closer to her.

Now, here was a great problem. How I am going to coach the Cat through its owner to change? Also, it was a beautiful, but very independent “Bengal” Cat… not going to happen right? Did I want to tell Suzy this? Yes, but I didn’t, I didn’t want to make her feel her subject wasn’t welcome.

Instead, I explored het subject more
 with her and asked questions about Suzy and her cat, and 

  • the relationship they had today, 
  • what she was hoping in her relationship with the Cat, 
  • and what she already liked about the relationship with the cat. 
  • What about a Cuddly CAT is important to her?

After some more exploration around her relationship with the CAT and what the CAT represented to her, she spoke about the Cat that had just come to pass before the new Cat came in. And this Cat had been so important for her, it was like a family member. The new Cat wasn’t able to fill that hole. I asked her what she wanted to achieve in her session now, she figured out that at the end of the conversation, she didn’t just want to have the cat change to be more cuddly, she realized wanted to find a way to allow the Cat to have its own relationship with her.

This allowed us to move into the Discovery phase to explore in what ways she could involve the “Aloof” Cat in her life, and she discovered the Cat had been showing signs of affection through playing, “chatting” and other great Cat things she did. She realized she had to give the “old” cat a space, to let the new CAT  have its own place. She uncovered man insights on how her own perspective of the Cat was hindering the relationship and didn’t give the CAT its own place in her family.  

She walked away with hope and renew motivation in focusing on the Cat’s needs for her attention and playful activities that the relationship would grow in both ways.

How does this apply to the Coaching the person competency in coaching?

Check the difference:
  • How would YOU like the CAT to behave is still coaching the problem (the cat needs to change) .
  • How would YOU like to see your relationship with the CAT is coaching the person (opportunity for the coachee to see possible changes in their own perspective/behavior).

What if you changed the “CAT” for any other problem the coachee brings in? Bet it works 🙂
Alexandra Togan
Alexandra Togan

Table of contents

This really happened, I do not remember the name of the coachee (or the CAT), so we'll just call her Suzy.