Monday, August 28, 2017

Two New Beginnings: Finnegan and Mr. Blue

Finnegan (above) and Mr. Blue (below) are two sweet, beautiful senior kitties.

They both lived happily with Brynne til their current age of 17.  Brynne was offered a job in Singapore, so she felt it would be traumatic and hazardous to these older kitties to put them through the stress of the many-hours-long flight, plus a quarantine that would last for days.  She said this was an incredibly hard decision to make, but she decided to find a good new home (or, as it turned out, homes) for the kitties.

Finnegan went to live with Alisa and her two lovely kitties, and Mr. Blue went to live with Amy, her two (human!) children, plus three other cats. Many blessings to Alisa and Amy for opening their hearts and homes to these older kitties.  It can be difficult to find people as kind and generous as they are -- so many people would only take in a very young cat or kitten.

Through the networking power of Instagram (which also helped Brynne find Alisa, then Alisa found Amy), Alisa was referred to me and contacted me to come and help Finnegan to feel more comfortable in Alisa's home, and to help all three kitties to feel more comfortable with each other.

In my first session with Finnegan, he was still in a room separate from the other cats.  When I entered the room, he was under the couch, which is where he had been camped out for the few days he had been there.  On my way there, I had been sending Reiki to them and to the situation, offering positive energy.  I looked under the couch, let him sniff my finger and said hello to him.

To my surprise, Finnegan came right out:)

I began to do some zigzag TTouches with him, letting the Reiki flow as well.  He started being comfortable with me very quickly, walking around a bit, then coming back to me, and Alisa was able to pet him as well.  I also added in Llama TTouches (back of hand), ear slides and Abalone TTouches (circular TTouches with the whole hand) as we went along. 

I let him wander around, then come back to me as he wished. To make contact with him and give him some space, I also did some TTouches using the side of a stick from a stick toy.  He even settled enough for mouth TTouches later in the session.

It helps animals to feel more at ease when they feel that they have a choice whether to make contact or not -- when they feel that people are not forcing the issue.

He was opening up like a flower blooming, and I could feel him starting to realize that indeed he was in a safe and loving place.  I kept telling him silently that he was safe, this was his new home, that he would be taken care of and loved, and that Brynne still loved him too.  That Brynne would always love him, but that this was his new place.
Finnegan and Koda

After the session, Alisa told me how well he was doing, and soon she was integrating him with her other two cats, which has gone smoothly as well.  Her other two cats, Lily and Koda, are gentle beings, as Finnegan is, so I hadn't foreseen that would be problematic, but what surprised me was how fast the acclimation seemed to take place for all of them.

It felt like something had shifted energetically in the session, helping start this positive process in motion.  I made Bach Flower remedies for the cats, which seemed to help as well.  And I made some recommendations to help the cats become more used to each other in a gentle way, etc.

Lily, Koda and Finnegan
I have been there for a number of sessions since then, and Finnegan has made himself completely at home - he acts as if this has always been his home.  He is extremely outgoing, and, if anything, sometimes bosses the others around!  He is extremely affectionate with Alisa, as you can see from the photo below.  This is not to say that he was unhappy in his previous home, but rather, that he has embraced this new adventure.

And lately, Lily and Finnegan have become especially close with each other, as you see below.

I have been back to Alisa's several more times to work with her cats and to work with a kitty named Fig Newton who she rescued and is currently fostering.  It has been beautiful to see how well Finnegan, Lily and Koda have adjusted.  (And as for Newton, perhaps you will hear about him in a future blog post, as he has a story all his own.)

After Brynne heard about what had happened at Alisa's, she was very excited, and paid for me to do two more sessions and a round of remedies with each of the homes.  She had been concerned about the cats, and wanted them to have the best chance for all to work out well.

A couple of weeks after that, I met with Amy and all her cats:  Mr. Blue, Tracey, Lionel and Vincent.  Mr. Blue had been in a room by himself for some days, so she had started letting him out.

Amy's other cats are also very gentle, and Amy said that there had been some hissing between the cats, but nothing more than that, no fighting, etc.

When I arrived, Mr. Blue was under the couch along with Vincent, and Tracey and Lionel, who are extremely bonded with each other, were hanging out together.

I got out some treats, and was able to lure Mr. Blue out for a while.  He didn't really want to be touched, and that was fine.  I gave him a few treats along with the other cats, so everyone could get used to having something good happen in close proximity to each other.  I advised Amy to do this every day with the cats, as well as a few other strategies.  I also showed Amy about doing TTouches and using some of the tools, whenever Mr. Blue was ready for that.  Tracey is a very shy cat, so I showed her how she could help Tracey as well using TTouch. 

Mr. Blue settled again under the couch, so I just laid down on the floor near the couch and shared Reiki with him.  He clearly became more settled as we continued the session - I felt him really connecting with the energy.  I shared with him that Brynne loved him but that this was his new home, that he was safe and loved here, that this was his place, and his new family.  That everything was all right.  That I loved him too. When I finished, I thanked him for being open to Reiki and for participating in the healing process.

After the session, I heard that the cats were doing better with each other, and that Mr. Blue was becoming more comfortable in general, which was great!  Again, I believe that Reiki and TTouch helped to start a shift in the energy, and helped the cats to feel calmer and more open to the change that was happening. I made Bach remedies for the cats, which would help everyone to adjust and feel calm.
Vincent, Mr. Blue and Lionel
At the second session, Amy said Mr. Blue had been more out and about, and that things were going well.  Initially he was under the couch again, but came out quickly for treats.  And this time, I was able to do TTouches with him as he was eating the treats.  Again, I worked with the other cats (except Vincent, who was still hiding, but I believe he received the Reiki energy).  Mr. Blue went under the couch again for much of the Reiki session, but again I could feel him really connecting with the energy.  That was just where he was most comfortable in the moment.  Again, I was happy to honor his choice.

After the session, Amy said she was able to pet Mr. Blue a lot more, and not long after that, she sent me a photo of him on her lap!  He has turned into a real cuddler, and is so happy there.

And as for how Mr. Blue is getting along with the other kitties, Amy says they are all one big happy family!
  Mr. Blue and Lionel

Such a beautiful story, and I could not be more delighted at how well all is working out.  Alisa and Amy have kept in touch with Brynne, sharing with her photos and videos of how well the kitties are doing.

Thank you to all the humans and kitties involved - you are all so loving and so special.  It was an honor to be a part of this experience, and I will never forget it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reiki, TTouch and Debono Moves with Mr. Ji: Finding Peace

Mr. Ji is a dear senior dog I have been working with for some months now.  He has spinal stenosis, but he gets around really well in his dog cart, and it certainly never dampens his delightful personality.  It can give him discomfort, though, so the modalities I use can help to relieve some of that discomfort, and can give gentle suggestions to the body that help him to be in better balance.

When I started working with him today, he was restless, moving around, and it was hard for him to settle.  I did a bit of Debono moves work and a bit of TTouch with gentle hands-on, but he seemed to prefer that I work with him with hands off.  When he is in this restless mode, often it is best to share Reiki with him with hands-off first, and then see what else he may be ready to do.  If I follow his cues, I know I will find the way to help him.

His lovely person, Niseema, had put a toy in between his two front legs, which helped him to feel more at ease, but it seemed like he needed something more substantial there, so she ended up folding up a small blanket and putting it there instead, as you see in the photo.

It felt like a lot of his restless energy was in the upper part of the body, so I moved my hands slightly off his lower body.  I began to feel him start to be more grounded.

Then I began to connect with his inner light, and I silently told him that he has this light inside him all the time.  And I began to picture the light spreading through his body, and a very bright light surrounding his body as well.

All of a sudden I felt us completely connected - as though the energy from my hands, the energy running through his body like a river of light, the energy surrounding us - that we were one.  And he became very still, and so peaceful. 

But it was a stillness that was not frozen.  It was a stillness that had breath and light running through it.  Such a beautiful peacefulness and we were one with this feeling.  I felt him completely relax into it, as though he was just letting himself flow with the energy.

He was so comfortable that I decided to just leave my hands where they were for most of the rest of the session.  Towards the end, I did some gentle touches on his hind feet, barely even making contact, just to give some gentle awareness there.

When I finished the session, I tested his chakras with a pendulum and all of them were balanced.  I thanked him and thanked this work, feeling such gratitude.

Much love to Mr. Ji!!! Thank you for showing me and teaching me so much, and look forward to seeing you soon!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Reiki, Debono Moves and TTouch with Deuce: Gentle Work with a Gentle Soul


Deuce is a beautiful, sweet gray tabby who I have worked with weekly for about four years (I now also work with his dear brother Gruffy too).  Originally I was called to help Deuce because of his arthritis, and now he also has some digestive issues.  The work that I do is helpful on many levels, so it should help him to feel as balanced as he can be in his situation.
Deuce is a gentle and open being, and he is extremely receptive to the work that I do.  Each session feels like we share a very deep meditation together.

 Deuce with Gruffy
I have mostly done Reiki with Deuce during the time I have worked with him, but I also incorporate TTouch into our sessions, and, more recently, have begun incorporating Debono Moves (a gentle technique for animals based on Feldenkrais work, developed by Mary Debono) into our sessions.  Debono Moves helps with balance on both physical and emotional levels, and can particularly help animals with physical discomfort and trouble with mobility.  Among other things, Debono Moves gives gentle suggestions to the body about how it may be able to feel more comfortable, move or rest more comfortably, and feel supported.  In this post, the work I describe doing with his feet and legs is from what I have learned about Debono Moves.
Deuce has been having more physical trouble lately, so I am especially careful to be mindful of his sensitivity when working with him.  In the past, he has been really comfortable with Reiki hands-on, but more recently, I find myself working with him with my hands slightly off him, as I can tell it may feel too intense to him to do hands-on.  However, yesterday he was up for more contact, so I thought, let's see what can happen. . .

He was laying on his favorite chair when I arrived.  I sit on a low stool right next to the chair.  I started with my hands slightly off him, letting the Reiki flow. Right away he started purring.  He rubbed his face into my hand and made himself comfortable.  I felt him taking the energy in, and we became one, sharing the light and energy of Reiki.  We stayed there for a good long while, very peaceful.
He was curled around in a snail-like position as you see below.  At times, I gently placed my hands and arms around his body a bit, curving around him.  Just resting there at first, and feeling like I was giving him gentle support.  In my mind I would think of giving the slightest pressure (rather than actually really "doing" anything), as I thought of supporting him, then would gently release.  Then I would take my hands slightly off again and let the Reiki flow.

He seemed to want to rest his hind legs on my arm or hand.  I started giving him just a slight feeling of support on his hind legs, and then releasing.  I had a picture in my mind that he was standing up.  I would slightly touch one leg, then the other, picturing that he was putting a leg forward, then the other.
Keep in mind that these movements are barely perceptible, and extremely slow.  A video of them would look almost like nothing was happening, yet I felt a lot was happening.

I put my hand slightly under both his hind paws.  It felt like he started giving his weight to me through his paws there, like he had the sensation of standing even though he was laying on his side.  I would put a slight pressure under one foot, then the other, imagining he was taking steps.  At times I would stay still with my hand under both feet, imagining him standing. Again, I felt that HE sensed this and was responding to it.
I also did some gentle TTouches around the hind legs and feet to additionally help give some awareness there.
I continued to let Reiki flow the entire time, and he was extremely relaxed.

Then I gradually started to do the same thing with his front feet.  Usually he does not like to have his front feet touched at all, but he was so relaxed that he was ok with it.  And I think that starting out with the hind feet, where he is more comfortable, gave him a hint that this same movement may be comfortable on his front feet.  From what I understand, his arthritis is primarily concentrated around his shoulders, so I am sure his front feet are especially sensitive. Again, I just lightly touched one under one front foot, then the other.  Like I was just letting my hand be there for him to "stand" on.
He started pressing into my hand a bit with his feet too.  So interesting!

After working very slowly this way for a while, I let it go and just let the Reiki flow for a while.  I started to do a few gentle ribcage lifts, but could see that he had enough and just wanted to take in the peaceful Reiki energy for a while longer.  He settled into the peaceful energy flow. He was purring and I felt him so peaceful and comfortable.  Sometimes I feel my hands so connected with him that it is hard to end the session, even though I know I have been there quite a long time:)
After a while of enjoying the quiet flow with him, I gently thanked him and ended the session.
Thank you so much, Deucie!  I love you and always love working with you.  Look forward to seeing you soon!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bringing Balance and Confidence to Chancey Lou at Bideawee Through TTouch, Reiki, Treats and Love:)

Chancey Lou is a beautiful black and white kitty at Bideawee.  She was terrified when I first met her, hissing and swatting when people opened her cage.  She also has ear issues which affect her balance, so I am sure that makes her more apt to be anxious as well.

This photo is from when I first started working with her.  I sensed she really wanted to connect - actually she WAS connecting with me in the most direct and beautiful way one could imagine, heart to heart with her energy.  But I could sense she also wanted to connect with touch, but that she was just afraid at the moment.  At first, I mostly offered Reiki to her, sharing the gentle energy with her and fostering that connection with her.
Her thoughtful eyes connected with me deeply right away.  I sent her the feelings that I understood she was scared, but that she was very safe here.  That she would be very loved and cared for here.
That I loved her dearly.
Then after she got more relaxed, I started slowly trying a back scratcher or stick end of the stick toy with her.  The back scratcher seemed like it was too big a tool, so I just used the stick for a while.
At first, she was unsure about this, and would walk away.  So if that happened, I would give her a break, continuing to let the Reiki flow, and perhaps try again a bit later.  Over time, she started to understand that the stick was going to be used in a gentle way.

I also found that talking to her in a calm, slow voice was helpful.  The power of a soothing intention, combined with the calm voice, can be so powerful.
After a few weeks, she stopped the initial hissing, and I sensed she was looking at me to see what we were going to try next.
I started using treats with her, which worked out really well.  At first I would just put them near where she was, and after a bit of practice, she would take them from my hand.  I put my hand very flat on the bottom of the cage, so that it was close to the feeling of her taking the treat off the floor.  I was able to get her to come a bit closer to me for the treat as well.
After incorporating the treats, she started to come forward in her cage when she saw me.
Her face had started to look more and more open, and she was starting to trust others in the shelter who interacted with her as well.

At about this time, I brought in a long-handled paintbrush with a rather small brush at the end, thinking something small would work well, and maybe the softer surface of the brush would help.
After a bit of work with the treats, I gave her a break, then started to stroke her under her chin with the brush, and she started leaning into it a bit - yes! I love those moments when an animal really starts to respond on their own to touch, letting you know that they are starting to enjoy it, and that they are starting to trust you as well.

With a bit of gradual work, I was able to start to stroke and TTouch her on other parts of her head, always going back to under the chin when I sensed she needed that.  At times, I was able to touch her directly with my hand. She began to stretch her body completely out, sometimes kneading with her paws as well:)

About a week ago, I started to stroke a bit down her body with the paintbrush, and she got up and started to walk away from the brush.  I thought I had done too much, but actually she came to the front of the cage and began to rub her head against my hand!  You will see this breakthrough somewhere in the middle of the following video.  I know it is a bit lengthy, but it will show in more detail my process with her.
On this same day, she kept coming to the front of the cage, rubbing her face against my hand.  I was able to do some circular TTouches, strokes and zigzags on her body as well.
It literally felt like a wall or shell that had been in between us had melted, and that she was celebrating our connection.
I felt like my heart was completely open, and that a circular energy was moving from her to me to her, with such an expansive, opening feeling.  This beautiful, loving energy filling our hearts and filling the room.

She jumped up on a little shelf and started to stretch and roll around when I stroked her with the paintbrush there.  So sweet!
And things have continued to progress from there:)
Even people who don't have as much contact with her are noticing the change.  She will come to the front of the cage to say hello and ask for pets.
She has also started to venture out of her cage a bit, which is great.
Can't wait to see her again!
Love you, Chancey Lou!  Thank you for sharing your love with me, and for reminding me to be patient and in the moment, always.
And thank you to all the lovely Bideawee staff and volunteers who do so much to help these dear animals:)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Reiki, TTouch and Play with Daisy at Bideawee Westhampton: Peacefulness to a Sensitive Cat

Daisy is a beautiful kitty at Bideawee in Westhampton.  She is friendly with people, but not so fond of other cats, so she is lucky enough to have her own room there.

Daisy wants to have connection and friendship with people, but she gets so overexcited that it can turn into overstimulated behavior, with tail twitching, sudden hissing or meowing, etc.  Some people would say this is "unpredictable" behavior, but to me it is actually expected, if you watch her very clear body language.

And I do not agree with people who think this type of behavior is set in stone and cannot change.  We cannot know what will happen, but I believe that improvement is always possible.  It is a type of behavior where one is likely to always have to be extra-mindful of the cat's body language, but I strongly believe that by sharing a calm space, we can help these animals to understand what being calm feels like.  And the more that they feel it, the more possible it can be for them to get to that place on their own.

I have been working with Daisy really slowly, and through this process and combination of Reiki, TTouch and play, we have established a lovely bond.

My cat Garbanzo had a somewhat similar pattern, though his was more extreme, as he could get very aggressive when he was in overstimulated mode.  He trained me well to learn how to stay calm and neutral, and how to go slowly and gradually, always aware of body language.

When I first met Daisy, I had worked with other cats first, so without even consciously thinking it, Reiki was flowing before I entered into the room.  I entered and sat down calmly.  Daisy ran up to me before I even sat down and started rubbing and rubbing against me.  This behavior alone made her so overstimulated that suddenly she hissed at me.  I had a wonderful toy with me ("Go Cat Cat Catcher" - basically a stick toy with a mouse on the end of a wire - most cats love it!) - so I started playing with her a bit with the toy - enough so she could get some of her energy out on the toy, but not so wildly that she got amped up even further.  At times I was able to stroke her with the stick end of the stick toy - just once or twice.  Mostly I was just sitting calmly and letting the Reiki flow.

Our first few sessions were brief, as I wanted to make sure that we had a positive interaction, and it was left at that.  With each session, Daisy responded to the Reiki more and started to recognize the calming energy.

And so after a little bit of play, I would just sit calmly, and she would end up laying right next to me, even falling asleep.
It was so relaxing in her beautiful room, with the light coming in the window.  The light from outside, the light from within both of us, the light of the Reiki energy, becoming one with the light.

At the end of our most recent session (actually part one of it!), when I ended the session and got up to go to the door (which I do gradually and calmly), Daisy came after me, as she often does, and she started getting back into a hectic mode.  I was feeling from her, "why are you leaving?  don't go! why are you leaving?".  When I end the sessions with her, I tell her that I love her always, and that I will be back, but still this is often what happens when I leave the room.

After I worked with a couple of other cats, it was getting near time for me to leave the shelter, but I really wanted to spend a few more minutes with Daisy.  I felt I had something more to share with her, and I wanted to see what would happen.

I went back in the room, letting the Reiki flow again, and she calmly settled on the floor across from where I was.  I started telling her silently, "You can always have the light in you.  You can always have the light all around you, protecting you.  I love you always, and always, and always.  Feel the light inside you, and the light all around you, protecting you." I started repeating these words, and variations, like a mantra, for a few minutes.  I may have said them quietly, in addition to silently, I am not sure.  I saw her looking so peaceful and happy and settled.  And when I got up to leave, I was still feeling these words in my head, and she stayed right where she was, at peace and very settled.

Later on, I heard from one of the shelter people that Daisy and some of the others were much calmer.  So lovely to hear!

Thank you so much, Daisy!  It is such an honor to learn from you, and to share this beautiful energy with you.  I look forward to seeing you soon:)

And thanks, as always, to the wonderful Bideawee people for all that you do for these sweet creatures. xxoo

Friday, March 10, 2017

My Journey with Peaches at Bideawee

Peaches was a dear, gentle, senior cat friend who I worked with at Bideawee in Westhampton starting in 2015, when I started coming to Westhampton to work with the kitties (and occasionally a dog).  I enjoyed each moment I spent working with him, and so was very sad to hear of his passing recently.  Following is a bit about how he came to Bideawee, and then about our journey and work together. 

Peaches had come to Bideawee in 2012 with mom Penelope and five siblings when their owner passed away.  They had been clearly loved and well cared for by their owner.  Bideawee gives all their animals such love and care, and the kitties were able to live in the spacious, lovely cat rooms they have.  These rooms are beautifully set up for the cats' comfort, with ramps, cat trees, cat beds, scratching posts, and toys.  All the kitties except for Penelope and Peaches were adopted.

Peaches was a very shy boy, and so of course I was eager to work with him.  He would run away when people approached him, and would usually go way up high in the room, or to the back of a crate in the room to get away from people.

I wanted to allow Peaches to slowly become accustomed to me in a way that would feel safe to him.  In my first sessions, I did Reiki with him from a short distance away.  If he was way up high, I would stand on a chair so I could see him, but still could be a good distance away.  I also did TTouches off the body, as you see here:

Feeling the gentle energy of the TTouches and Reiki from a distance helped him to feel more comfortable, and slowly he began to be more at ease in my presence.

The next wonderful discovery I made was that he liked treats.  Treats can be a wonderful way for a cat to learn that they can be safe near you, and they begin to associate you with something that they really enjoy.  Following is a video which shows how I incorporated treats with TTouch and Reiki to help dear Peaches feel more at ease. 

Now when he saw me coming into the room, he began running towards me instead of away.  Yes, it was for the treats, but later on, I was able to approach him for affection without the "bribery".  Also, in our sessions he was comfortable for longer and longer periods without using treats.

In the video above. you see me brushing him with a "mini jelly scrubber" brush - which is most often used for horses, but I found out about it in the TTouch training, as many cats enjoy being TTouched (or, I found out later, brushed) with it. You can see how he settles into touch for longer periods of time without the treats.
In the video below, you can see him enjoying contact more and more.  And in the last section, I had approached him quietly while he was cozy in the sun, and he relaxed into the TTouches with no treats being used.

The large room that he lived in (with some other cats) has big windows in the front that go over the top as well.  So on a sunny day, the light pours in, and there are cozy places for the cats to hang out in these sunny spots.
When I think of Peaches now, that moment we had of TTouch with the light shining on us comes back to me.  Truly a magical moment in time, a beautiful moment of inner and outer light and connection.
I looked forward to each time that I worked with dear Peaches, and felt our heart connection grow stronger each time.  I felt so honored that he felt safe with me, that he was enjoying these moments of closeness and contact.
And I heard that some other people were able to have more contact with Peaches as well, which was great to hear.
As we continued working, he continued making progress, and in this last session that I filmed, he realized he really enjoyed scratches and TTouches around his head.  He was purring and pushing into my hand.  Such a joyful session with him!

Not too long ago, I had noticed that Peaches was feeling more frail, and so I mentioned it to the Bideawee staff. Bideawee's vet checked him out completely with full bloodwork, etc and nothing showed up.  So it must have been a shock when Bideawee's Animal Care Supervisor Amy discovered that Peaches had passed away in his sleep. Amy has his ashes, and there is a photo of him up where his cage card used to be, to honor the sweet kitty.
Following is a strappo monotype I did of him a while ago.

I will always remember Peaches.  His gentle smile and sweet soul will live in my heart forever.

I will always picture him basking in the sun, with the sun coming in through the windows, with a beautiful smile on his face, glowing with light and joy.  Love you always, Peaches!  Thank you for all that you taught me, shared with me, and all that you gave to me.  xoxo

Friday, March 3, 2017

My Journey with Natalia and Lulu: Five Years Later

Lulu and Natalia

Natalia and Lulu are my two beautiful, formerly-feral cats who I adopted from BARC Shelter in 2012.  They came into BARC Shelter in December of 2011 – so I have known them for five years now (they are probably about six years old).
When they first came in to BARC Shelter, I had no idea that some months later I would be bringing them home.  They had different names at the shelter, but to avoid confusion I am using the names I gave them.  At that time, I had my 18 year old cat Garbanzo, who would not tolerate any other cats.  They originally were brought in to be spayed and put back outside.  When that plan fell through, they continued to stay at the shelter.  The shelter owners were considering sending them to a sanctuary.  Clearly they were not used to human interaction at all.  

Of course I began working with them once it was clear they were staying at the shelter.  Lulu hid under her cat bed, and Natalia stayed at the back of the cage, but I could tell early-on that they were not aggressive in the least  just scared.

We have been on, and continue to be on, a truly amazing journey.  The process is so heart-opening, and so humbling.  It is a lesson in patience, and in letting go.  It is about really quieting my own being so that I can listen to what they are ready to do.  It is about keeping my mind open, about constantly trying new things with them, and about figuring out how to break things down into smaller and smaller steps until you are just at the place that feels ok for them. I also have a number of ways of connecting with the cats: TTouch, Reiki, play, clicker training, Debono Moves, treats, etc. If one thing is not working that particular day, I try something else.
And all of those small steps really do add up.  Back then, I didn’t know that I would eventually be able to pick up Lulu and give her a good snuggle and head rub, or that Natalia would want me to climb up the stairs to the bed with her for Reiki, giving head butts to me the whole way.  That they would come to me to seek affection.  
Here is a photo of our Reiki routine.  Natalia and Lulu are always in the same configuration.  Most often Lulu will wait at the bottom of the stairs up to the bed.  She waits for my boyfriend to come into the room and tell her it's time for Reiki, but she starts running up the minute she hears him get up from his chair in the living room.  Such a funny routine!  Then she snuggles in next to me.

It is important to keep trying new things.  I think there is always progress that can be made when working with shy, fearful and feral cats.  And that it is always worthwhile to try. 

A recent example:  Natalia has always tended to be head-shy.  So I generally will stroke her on the back first, as that is where she is most comfortable.  To help her get accustomed to being touched on the head, I would just do a couple of TTouches on the head, and go back to the body, where she is comfortable.  I also found that using the Zigzag TTouches on her head (they are usually done on the body), has been helpful.  Above and below are videos showing some of the ways I have been able to work with her to help her be more comfortable.

Lulu is more comfortable than Natalia with handling in general.  But brushing is something that she has limited patience with, so I am experimenting with different types of brushes to see what works for her.  And I am still continuing to make progress with her as far as handling goes as well. Just to give you an idea of how far she has come from her initial fearfulness/feralness, here is a video I made of her recently, showing some TTouches that are helpful for cats who overgroom:

Moving forward with being able to touch and handle a cat has practical applications as well as being able to feel a closer bond with your animal spiritually as well as physically.  For example, helping an animal to be comfortable being touched on the head, body and extremities such as paws and tail is really helpful if you have to give them medication, or if you need to look at a bump or scrape or the like, or clean the ears, etc.  We have not been able to get to nail clipping, and I think something such as giving eye drops would be really hard, but being able to handle the cats better and better has been a huge help, and we are continually progressing, so that is great!
And keep in mind progress does not always take place in a straight line.  Sometimes there will be a real breakthrough with something, and then the next day you are still back where you were before.  That can happen at times, but don't be discouraged.  Continue to meet the cat where they are that particular day, and find where they are comfortable.  From that place you can gently see what little step you may be able to take that day.

A month or so ago I needed to get Lulu in a carrier to get her to the vet, which I had thought would be such an impossible task.  It did take two of us to do it, but I think she knew we were trying to help her, and it did not end up being such a big deal as I thought it might be.  For me, the best thing I did in that moment was take a deep breath, calm myself, and act as if this was just going to happen. Taking a few seconds even, just to look inward and calm oneself, especially before doing something challenging with an animal, is so valuable. And even when we are getting ready just to try some TTouches or spend a quiet moment with our animals, it is really of value to check in with ourselves first and let go of our tensions and worries as best we can.
Animals have so much to teach us.  We just have to quiet ourselves and listen to what they have to say.  I learn from them every day.  And am continually reminded too, of how valuable it is to start each session with an open mind and heart, releasing expectations.  It is when you can truly be in the moment with the animals that the most amazing things can happen.
Love you Natalia and Lulu!  and look forward to continuing our adventures together every single day. xoxo