As you can tell from these pictures, he was clear in his communiication that this is extremely relaxing for him! xo
Friday, December 30, 2011
As you can tell from these pictures, he was clear in his communiication that this is extremely relaxing for him! xo
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuco is a beautiful kitten who was brought into BARC shelter some weeks ago by the police. She had apparently been abused by people who had hit her in the face. She has received veterinary care and a lot of love and attention from the BARC vets, staff and volunteers. I have been working with her very gently to help her to learn to trust people again. Other staff and volunteers have given her a lot of attention as well. She has been gradually coming out of her shell, which is amazing to see.
She will still start out a bit tentative, as you can see by the above photo, but now with me she will often walk right up to the front of the cage. Understandably, a big hurdle for her to deal with has been her fear of a hand coming towards her face or head. I may start out by doing some llama ttouches (circular ttouches with the back of my hand) along the sides of her body, but she has also gotten comfortable with circular TTouches with the back of my finger (actually my fingernail) on her forehead or the top of her head, as well as straight strokes going down the sides of her back. The back surfaces of our hands are less intense than the front, so usually I will at least begin with the back surfaces of my hand when working with her.
She has come a long way, and I think she just needs time and patience to continue to come around at her own pace. See you soon, Tuco! xo
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Above: Oliver, left, Pip, right, Izzy is actually in the dark blue bed but is in shadow so you can't see her :)
Hi folks, a while back I posted about working with Pip and Oliver - Pip was the first cat brought into the household and a few months later, Oliver was brought into the household. I worked with the people and the cats, sharing different techniques for helping the cats get acclimated to each other in a non-threatening way. Both cats can tend to be insecure in their own ways, so a lot of TTouches, treats, and in Oliver's case, a wrap, have been incorporated into this process :)
(below, Oliver in a TTouch half-wrap)
Sarah and Chris have been working very diligently and carefully with the cats, and the situation has become much more comfortable. They were keeping Pip and Oliver in separate rooms for a while, and now everyone is all together. And, most recently, a new kitty was brought into the household - a sweet female kitten named Izzy, who seems to be a positive influence in the household, breaking up the tension that can build between the two boys. Following is a recent clip of the three cats. Pip (the grey and white kitty) looks very at ease, and doesn't seem to care that Oliver is in close proximity to him. Oliver, the tabby, is still tentative, sitting under a stool, but is comfortable enough to be very close to Pip. This is great progress. And as for Izzy, she is just chilling out in her bed.
and following is a more recent clip, with everyone chilling out:
Great job, one and all! xo
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Quinn is a beautiful big cat who is extremely wary of humans, and seems to be wary of other cats as well. When he gets frightened or irritated, his most usual response is to yell and swat very hard. He was dumped at the shelter some months back, and I have made gradual but steady progress with him. I have also showed some of the volunteers how to make contact with him using a tool such as the plastic back scratcher or paintbrush shown in this post. It really makes a difference to have a number of people working with him. Now, unless you work with him past his tolerance level, he generally will settle into it. And, if he does decide to swat, the swat will generally reach the tool and not your hand.
After a while of making contact with Quinn using the back scratcher, doing little circular TTouches and strokes around his head area, I found him to be particularly relaxed and in a sleepy mode. As I was a bit nervous about going to the next step, I made sure that my breath was really flowing and that I was as relaxed as I could be. I was sending him very gentle energy, and doing my best to quiet my mind. Gradually I worked my hand down the back scratcher and began to do some circular TTouches using the back of the tip of my finger, as shown here and in the next photo below.
His eyes were still closed and sleepy, so I continued for a few moments. I wasn't sure how he would react once he felt the change from the plastic to the warmth of my finger, but I actually was feeling him relax into my touch. So as not to push the issue too much, I then switched back to using the back scratcher again.
And, this time he was sitting right in the front of his cage, instead of being way at the back of his cage, which used to be his normal place. Very often, these days, he will be hanging out towards the front of his cage. He got extremely sleepy as I was working with him, and laid his head down, so I gently began stroking him and doing circular TTouches using the back of my hand, as shown below. It was so wonderful to feel and see him so relaxed.
Lord Greystoke is a beautiful grey and white who arrived at BARC shelter after his owners were evicted. He was terrified at first, cowering in the back of the cage, looking as though he was frozen in that position. When I first opened his cage, he hissed at me, so I started out by doing gentle TTouches with him using a paintbrush. He began to relax his body, and as I went along, I gradually began to work my hand down the paintbrush til I was touching him with my hand. Very slowly he began to stretch out his body a bit and did a few sighs, really letting go. When I see those sighs that look like the animal is finally really letting go, it touches my heart so much.
From then on I found that I could touch him directly with my hand. Each day he has responded a little more and a little more, first by rubbing his face and head against my hand, then his body against my hand, as I was doing circular TTouches and gentle strokes on his head and body. Sometimes I would bring his food bowl from the front of the cage to where he was, and he was very comfortable eating in my presence. Initially I was doing a lot of TTouches using the back of my hand, as that is less intense than the front of my hand, but now I can do all of the types of TTouches with him.
Often he especially responds to TTouches around the outside of the mouth area. The mouth area connects with the limbic system, which relates to the emotions, so this makes a lot of sense.
When I am working with him, I am completely in the moment with him, completely connected with his being, and try to imagine a bubble of light around us, to help him to feel safe.
Sometimes I would stop and send him Reiki for a few minutes, to help him to relax further.
A few days ago, he began to stand up and walk towards the front of the cage, which was a big step for him, as most of the time when people are around you see him lying down. He came all the way to the front of the cage and began to eat his food. Now when he sees me open his cage, he will usually get ready to stand up.
Yesterday he surprised me by rolling over onto his back and pushing into my hand for belly rubs. It is such a pleasure to see him become so much more comfortable, and I feel that soon he will start to be less frightened when unfamiliar people come into the shelter and want to interact with him. Yesterday he was also staying in the middle of his cage, rather than all the way at the back, which was a great step for him as well.
It is beautiful to see him really coming out of his shell, and to experience the gentle, loving being that he is.
Tuco is a beautiful black kitten who the police brought to BARC shelter (http://barcshelter.org) several weeks ago. She had been abused, apparently hit in the face, and the skin on her jaw was completely scraped off, and teeth knocked out as well. She has received medical attention from the wonderful vets BARC uses and a lot of TLC from everyone. She was understandably terrified of people at first, but she has been feeling more and more confident and comfortable each time I see her. I noticed that she often gets frightened when a hand is coming towards her, especially towards her head or face area, so sometimes I will touch her on her back first. But most recently what I have tried is just very gently touching the top of her head with the back of my fingers, doing the lightest strokes and circular TTouches. This seems to help her to be more receptive to the approaching hand, instead of swatting at it or moving away.
And, what has been wonderful to see is that often after doing some of these gentle touches with her, she will move forward on her own for more contact. Sometimes she moves forward, then retreats again initially, but then I touch her again very lightly, first on the head, then some gentle strokes down the body using the back of my hand (which is less intense than the front surface, and she will start to come forward again. The other day, when I took these pictures, she surprised me by leaning completely into my hand and arm, and pushing into me, then rolling on her back.
As you can see below, I am only using the back of my index finger (actually my fingernail) to do some gentle circular TTouches on her. I am just touching with enough pressure to move the skin around in a circle and a quarter, and I make the circles slower and slower, for a more relaxing effect. It is so important, too, to slow your own mind down before beginning to work with a frightened animal. Sometimes it is as if I hear my thoughts slow down like a record going at a slower speed.
Another thing I do with her if she starts to get into a mode where she wants to swat at me rather than have my hand make contact, is to stop for a few minutes, just sending her Reiki energy from a couple of feet away. When I do this, I see her body start to relax. She usually will lie down and her eyes get very sleepy. And then I will try again with some gentle TTouches.
The picture below was right after she had pushed her head up into my hand and was looking a bit surprised about doing that, I think! But you can see that her body posture is stretched out and relaxed in these pictures, not hunched up and tense.
Over the past couple of weeks, Tuco has realized she loves to play. Sometimes, as in the picture below, her facial expression looks as if the act of playing is a new discovery to her. It is so lovely to see her fear melting away and her true sweet, whimsical personality come forth. Many thanks to all those at BARC who have been so kind and understanding to her, as they are to all the animals at BARC. See you soon! xo
Monday, December 12, 2011
This is King Kong, a rescue kitty from the Mayor's Alliance who I have been working with for a while through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program. He had not been in the holding space for a while (possibly fostered), and then was returned recently. Since his return, he has been more shy with others than he had been before, and I had been told that often he wasn't coming out of his cage readily, as he had before. He has still been very friendly with me but when he comes out of his cage to make contact with me, generally he has been more interested in wandering about than in a lot of contact. and I was always a bit careful so as not to get him overstimulated. As he has seemed a bit on edge, I generally do TTouches with him using the back surfaces of my hand and fingers, as these Ttouches are less intense. I let him wander around, use the scratching post or play with a toy, then call him to me and he will come over, usually rubbing against my legs or against my hand as I do some Llama TTouches (circular TTouches using the back surfaces of my fingers) or chimp Ttouches (using the back surface of the middle section of the fingers) with him.
But today was really different. Sometimes I may be working with an animal at a certain level for a while, then one day our connection just clicks in a different way, and we move to a new level of connection.
I started out as I usually do, with llama TTouches and strokes using the back of my hand as he walks back and forth by me. Then he got a bit more settled, and I did some Reiki with him from a short distance, and I felt him much calmer than usual.
After sending him Reiki for a while, he just laid down calmly, and I began to do slow raccoon TTouches on his forehead. I felt him completely relaxed and totally in the moment with me and with the TTouches really settling into the peacefulness of the circular TTouches, closing his eyes, really letting go. I felt that direct heart connection that I often feel when some of the tension is able to truly fall away. Even the air and the space around us felt very quiet, just him and me connected and in the moment. He laid down next to me and stretched out, and we really connected on a much deeper level. It was beautiful to experience him truly relaxing and leting go. It was hard for me to leave today. When I leave, I always hold my hand up and send them energy and tell them I love them before I leave. Today he responded by waving goodbye to me, as you see here.
Love you, King Kong! xo
Monday, December 5, 2011
Today I went to work with Mari's cats, who I had not seen in a while. Some months ago, she had contacted me because her kitty Doris was terminally ill, so I did Reiki sessions with Doris to help her to be comfortable, and I was honored to be with Mari and Doris when it was time for Doris to transition.
Mari has four other cats: Spaz, Alice, Amanda and Buddy, and recently she took in a young kitty, affectionately named Monster. When Mari contacted me this time, she said that little Monster was stressing her other cats out! So I went to send Reiki to all the cats, and to see if I could help the environment start to feel a bit more harmonious.
Monster was recovering from steatitis, which had made him extremely sensitive to touch, so I proceeded very carefully with him (after this appointment, there were further tests and it was found he has an irregular spine with some lesions, at present he is on medication to help him). He was actually in a more relaxed mode when I got there, but he became even more sleepy and relaxed as I worked with him. I started out with raccoon TTouches around the head, then did some chimp and llama TTouches on his body, stopping whenever he flinched or seemed uncomfortable, and giving him a moment to relax. I also stopped to send Reiki to him at various points. He stretched out and got quite cozy on his bed.
Meanwhile, Buddy (above) came up on the bed too so I sent him Reiki with one hand and Alice from the other hand. At one point Amanda (below) came up on the windowsill behind me to receive some Reiki, and Mari was doing TTouches with one or another of the cats as I was working. I felt more and more heat from Alice as my hand got closer to her, and I felt it being pulled like a magnet to her. She relaxed and began to nap a bit. I felt my hand particularly being drawn to her midsection, the solar plexus area, which is about being safe, among other things. I felt her breathing slow down and her eyes, which are usually huge and very open, relax, and felt her abdomen relax into my hands. It was a wonderful surprise for this to happen, very often a cat who is so sensitive is too overwhelmed by hands-on Reiki, but the gradual approach seemed to give Alice the time she needed to acclimate herself to the intensity of the energy. At a couple of points, when Amanda was on the sill, I sent Reiki to her from one of my hands, and she did stop for a bit to receive it.
Below is Spaz - I didn't have a chance to work on him directly today but he's a pretty chill guy anyway, and I think he did receive some Reiki indirectly as I sent it into the space. Thanks all, wish you well and look forward to hearing an update on this sweet gang soon.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Yesterday I went to work with Jordyn Thiessen's (http://dancingminddesign.com/) kitty Jinx. Jinx has been having mobility issues, either due to a disk problem or tumor, and has been having trouble using his back legs. Over the past few sessions, I have been using a TTouch half wrap, full wrap, and a bit of a candy cane wrap with him. Though he still clearly has trouble, and tends to bring the middle part of his back up and sort of swivel his hips to make his legs move, I have noticed that he does seem to use his back feet more than I had seen before, and he seems to be retaining some of that feeling without the wrap.
When I arrived at Jordyn's apartment, Jinx was very cute, it seemed as though he was showing off for me, showing me what he could do without the wrap on. There are steps which lead up to the bed, and Jinx climbed up and down these, really using the pads of his hind feet, instead of dragging the hind legs along. He did this both going up and down the steps, and did it several times during the session. He also walked up and down the apartment, using his legs quite well for him. Sometimes he loses the feeling and will drag the right hind leg a bit, the top of the foot dragging on the ground a bit, but overall he seems to be using his legs more completely than I observed a couple of weeks ago before we started using the wrap.
We went out in the hallway, which has long been a place where Jinx likes to go, and he enjoys walking up and down the hall. The minute we got out there he started purring and rubbing his head against the wall, and rubbing his head against my hand when I got near him. We used the half wrap (above two pictures and the one below),
as well as the full wrap, which I made by adding on to the half wrap and wrapping around each hind leg (sorry, no pics of that this week). We also tried using the back half of the wrap to do a kind of candy cane wrap around the two hind legs. I looped the second wrap through the back part of the half wrap and then wound each side around each hind leg, tying around the bottom. Not quite sure if this is an official TTouch configuration, but it did seem to help remind him of the feeling in the legs. I didn't leave it on long, as it seemed to be a bit much for him, but it felt like it was a good idea to try for a short bit, just to bring his awareness to the legs.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I have been continuing to work with a batch of feral kittens who arrived recently at BARC shelter. First two arrived, then a third (the tabby you see on the right above), and then one more black and white kitten (sorry didn't get a pic of him).
They started out hissing and very frightened, but have been getting increasingly friendly. I have been doing a lot of TTouch and Reiki with them, and others have been working with them to help socialize them as well. As you can see from the pictures, they are getting very playful, which is a big improvement from the initial cowering in the litter box!
Recently I was working with Crazy Horse, the tabby and white kitten who is the shyest of the bunch. I noticed that when I happened to put my hand under his belly, he got very comfortable. So I began to do some gentle TTouch belly lifts with him, lifting my hand up just a very little bit, holding my hand there, then slowly releasing. This prompted him to want to eat, so I continued doing a few TTouches with him while he ate. In general, the belly lifts can help a cat to feel more comfortable, as it releases the muscles there, enabling the animal to breathe more fully, etc. It can also be helpful for digestion. At times I also held my hand still and let Reiki energy flow to him.
Most recently, I have started to get them used to being picked up, little by little. I will lift a kitten up with two hands under its belly, gently lifting it, still within the cage, then set it back down and do some circular TTouches, zigzag TTouches and octopus TTouches (like a double zigzag TTouch, using both hands at the same time. Hair slides and ear strokes are also helpful. I do the TTouches for a minute or two, then lift it up again, put it back down and do the TTouches again, helping them to associate the lifting with very gentle TTouches. The next step will be lifting them up and out of the cage, but I wanted to acclimate them to the process of being lifted up in a very gradual way so that the lifting out of the cage is not such a big deal when it happens. See you soon, little ones!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I have been working with my friend Jordyn Thiessen's (http://dancingminddesign.com/) cat Jinx, as he has been losing mobility in his hind legs, either due to a disk problem or a tumor. TTouch and Reiki have been helping him to feel more comfortable and bring some more connection, but last week I decided to try a wrap with him.
I am never sure how a cat will react to having a wrap put on them. For many cats, especially the cats who I work with in the shelters, who are often fearful, the stress of putting the wrap on is just too much for them, even when done gradually. However, some cats are completely accepting of the wrap and for them, the experience can be profound.
Jinx was completely fine with me putting the half wrap on him. I used a two-inch ace bandage cut in half so it was really a one-inch bandage. What was interesting was that immediately he began to walk and it was obvious that he felt much more connection to his hind feet and legs. Lately, his legs are generally quite wobbly, and can buckle altogether or sometimes his feet will flip over so he is dragging the front part of his feet.
We went into the hall with him, where he likes to walk, and I connected another wrap to the half-wrap so that he now had a full wrap on, which you will see in one of the videos. He is doing quite well, using his feet more completely and using his legs in a more integrated way. At the end of the first clip, he gets a bit tired and loses balance again, but altogether this is a big improvement for him.
Then we took off the wrap, and immediately his hind legs buckled again. However, once Jordyn put him into standing position, he started to use his legs more fully again, though could retain the balance for just a short time.
Then we put a half-wrap on him again, and again he was walking in a more integrated and full way. And when we took it off the second time, he seemed to retain the feeling of balance a bit longer than he had the previous time.
Our hope is that with some time and practice, his body will start to remember the feeling of connection without the wrap, or, at least, he will be able to be as balanced as is possible for him, given whatever his medical condition may be.
I have a demo of the half-wrap on my youtube channel http://youtube.com/sarahsuricat, and will try to get a demo of the full wrap up soon. There are different ways to do it, but for Jinx, I just added onto the half-wrap by looping another wrap through the back part of the half-wrap, then looping it around the hind legs.
At the end, I did some Reiki with Jinx to help him wind down again. Thanks Jinx! look forward to seeing you soon. xo
Friday, November 18, 2011
A few days ago I began working with two feral kittens at BARC shelter (since these pix, two more have been trapped), and this blog post discusses my first session with them. The picture above is actually after I had worked with them for a while, but you can see the black and white one still has the wide-eyed scared look. It's interesting, because the one on the right is actually more shy in its behavior.
When I opened the cage, they both hissed at me. When kittens or cats are terrified initially, I begin working with them either by doing Reiki from a short distance away, or by doing TTouch using a tool, such as a long-handled paintbrush. I began my work with them using a "fan" style paintbrush, which they were very receptive to. Sometimes I need to try a variety of tools before finding the one that really works, but this seemed to do the trick. I did little circular TTouches and strokes on the top of their heads, the outside of their mouth area, and then gradually started working some circular TTouches and strokes going down their body.
I just did a very little bit at a time, alternating between one kitten and another. When one kitten starts to get comfortable, usually the other does as well. After a few minutes, I was able to work my hand down the handle of the brush and began doing TTouches on the kittens with my hand, again, starting around the head area, top of head, ears, outside of mouth, then working down the body. I often used the back surfaces of my hand and fingers to do the ttouches, which is why you see my hand in a curved position below.
You can see the black and white kitten watching as I'm TTouching the other kitten, and the tabby and white kitten being a bit hesitant, but after a bit they settled into it. Again, I was doing a few TTouches on one kitten, then switching to the other, back and forth. At various points in the session, I would hold my hand still and just let the Reiki energy (which was constantly flowing) to flow over them.
I gave them a bit of a break, closing the cage, and when I opened the cage again, they were one on top of the other as you see here.
Again, I did some circular TTouches, mostly on their head areas, using the backs of my fingers. Around the forehead is a great area to work, and the ear strokes and TTouches around the outside of the mouth were also quite calming. The ears have many acupressure points, which have to do with respiration, digestion, etc, and the mouth area connects with the limbic system, which governs the emotions, so working these areas can help to really bring the stress level of an animal down.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Abby is a dear white senior cat at BARC Shelter. He arrived at the shelter after his owner passed away. He is quite a sensitive kitty, and, though he is friendly with people, he appears to be frightened of other cats and of dogs. He can also become overwhelmed if approached with energy that is too intense. It is easy to imagine that this transition must have been so difficult for him.
So I started out with him in a very gentle way, sending him Reiki energy from a short distance away. He sensed the energy right away and smelled my hands, as though he was smelling the energy. He came closer and closer to me until he was cuddled around my hands and arms, and he stretched out for a snooze. I felt such a deep calm in him, and a bubble of calm energy around us. This was so lovely to feel and see.
The next time I worked with him, the same thing happened, he came forward to sniff the energy, then became entertwined in my hands and arms. I had my elbows bent, resting on the bottom of the cage and my hands facing either side of him, so he had one paw over the crook of each elbow, and was feeling the energy between my hands and arms. In the moments of these intensely special connections, it feels as though I merge with the animal, and I will often feel tears welling up. I try to let that feeling just pass through and focus on continuing to send positive energy coming back to the animal.
After both these sessions, I felt such a profound sense of peace and calm in Abby, and it felt as though there was a bubble of calm around him as well. Best wishes to you Abby, look forward to seeing you soon. And thank you as always to BARC shelter for taking care of all these beautiful animals.