Another touch that he particularly responds to is the belly lift. This is an extremely subtle TTouch lift - you put your hand underneath the belly, gently lift upwards - this is a very small motion, hardly even visible - hold there briefly, then very slowly release down. This can be a great thing tto do on animals who are fearful and/or who have digestive issues. It releases the body so that it can breathe more fully and releases the belly as well. I only do this a couple of times, and it is very effective. Again, it is important to stress that you are not trying to squish the stomach by making a big motion, just the very subtlest of motions and movements.
After doing the belly lifts, Statler generally will stretch out his body completely or even lie on his side, which is so lovely to see.
I have been doing a lot of mouth work on him as well, in which I combine circles and strokes along the outside of his mouth. He finds this to be extremely soothing and it will often prompt him to start rubbing his head against my hand. He is also exremely receptive to ear strokes, which stimulate the immune system.
When I was last at the shelter, Statler was still hanging out in the back of his cage but he is definitely less frozen there, and is more responsive to touch than he was in the beginning. For him, these have been big steps. This cat has the look of an old, wise soul, he really touches my heart when our eyes connect. I always feel he is thanking me for taking the time to be in the moment with him.
It's been a few days since I've been able to go to the shelter, can't wait to see Statler and the other sweet cats at BARC soon!