Saturday, October 2, 2010
The Cat Loft at BARC Sept 25-Oct 1 The Journey of Cher
Cher is a gorgeous tabby cat who looks a bit like a little leopard. I was told she has been at BARC since she was a kitten, and she looks to be about a year old now. She originally was there with her brother Sonny but he got adopted a long time ago. When I first started at BARC about a month ago, Cher's default reaction on opening her cage was to swat really hard, a bunch of times. People were not able to touch or pet her except for one or two people, and even then, their contact was extremely limited from what I saw, generally ended in getting scratched (as it did with me at first!).
I started out by working with her a little bit at a time, using a couple of brushes - if she tried to swat at one, I did a few circles and strokes using the other brush. Lately she started coming out of her cage and standing on my lap while I have been working on her.
Sept 25 - Cher is continuing to be more and more comfortable with me. Now when I open her cage she immiediately steps onto my lap. I have been continuing to use what must be a brush for barbecuing - a brush on a long metal rod with a wooden handle. Sometimes I use the brush, and today I also started stroking her by rolling the wooden handle against her sides, which she really responded to. This was the first time I had thought of using the handle. I like to experiment with different types of surfaces, as cats are so individual as to what they prefer. I also did some TTouches on her using the back of my hand.
Sept 28 - Again Cher came right out onto my lap. Today, for the first time, she briefly curled up and settled in my lap. I was so pleasantly surprised at this. She is now doing things that demonstrate that she is really seeking contact - she will rub herself against my hand or arm. She still seems a bit unsure, but she is getting more confident every time I see her. Again I used the long-handled brush - both the brush side and the handle side, and the back of my hand to do strokes and touches. She also got very comfortable sitting right at the doorway to her cage, with the front part of her body and her front legs and paws resting on my lap. These are huge steps for her! I give her many breaks, doing a few circles and strokes with her, then waiting for her to signal that she is ready for more. This approach in general is so important when dealing with her.
Sept. 30 - Again Cher came right into my lap. I did strokes and circles on her with my hand, a little bit at a time, and she curled up in my lap. She was rubbing her head against me, nuzzling me in a way that prompted me to hold her briefly, which she really relaxed into.
Oct. 1 - This was an amazing day. Cher is surprising me with each time we have contact, and today really was exciting to me. Today she came into my lap, rubbing her head against me a lot. I did circles and strokes with the back of my hand and she settled in my lap for more TTouches on her body and some on her forehead. She really got relaxed there until somethimg startled her and so she jumped back into her cage. I gave her a break for a while, then came back to her.
When I opened the cage the second time, she came right back into my lap and REALLY settled there as though we were hanging out on a couch at home. I was able to do circles and strokes with the back of my hand, and a bit with the front of my hand. I also did raccoon touches on her forehead, which she really responded to. During this time, a couple of the cats who are loose in the shelter came to see what was going on, and one of them, Cody, tried to put his paw on my lap. I quietly told him that I would let him have his chance later, and he got back down. I was surprised that these other cats didn't throw Cher off at all.
And she was PURRRING most of the time today, the first time I have heard and felt her doing this. And no swatting.
She just really melted into my lap, and even when it was time for them to close up the shelter, she didn't want to get back in the cage. I didn't want to startle her by picking her up, so I just gently tipped my legs in the direction of her cage, She still didn't want to go, but finally she went back in. I thanked her so much. She is a cat who has taught me so much about patience and truly remaining in the moment. I have to thank a few other folks who have been patiently working to help Cher feel comfortable as well.