Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shows of Understanding and Trust: Walina and Camilla at BARC Shelter

Sometimes when I am at the shelter, I want to help the cats in ways that may, in the moment, not be so comfortable, but will ultimately bring them relief. Often, I sense that the animals understand that I am trying to help them, and instead of resisting and pulling away, they relax and cooperate. Following are two recent examples of this.

Walina (above) is a sweet kitten, perhaps about 5-6 months old, who recently arrived at BARC shelter after being retrieved from within the walls of Assemblyman Joe Lentol's office (story at She has a very gentle, sweet personality, and came right onto my lap after I opened her cage. I did some gentle strokes and TTouch on her, and in the process of that, I discovered she had a giant mat in her fur, which must have been pulling at her, as it was very close to the skin. I really didn't want to startle her, but I did want to remove the mat. I was given a pair of scissors, and, speaking very gently to her, put two fingers around the matt, in between her skin and where the scissors were, so I had no chance of cutting her. I was surprised that at this point she didn't flinch at all, as this was definitely starting to pull on her skin. She remained curled up, completely relaxed in my lap. In a few cuts, I had cut the biggest part of the mat completely off. A few small tangled matted areas remained, and so with my fingers I began to separate and untangle these small matted places. This took a while to accomplish, and all the while, she remained relaxed and still for me. After about ten minutes, the whole area was completely tangle-free. I thanked her for being such a great sport, and kept her for a while on my lap, and she took a little nap there. Especially after what this small being had been through, I was really touched by her trust as I did this.

Another sweet cat who has shown this cooperation and trust is Camilla. Recently I had to comb out her tail, as her fur had become tangled there. I have worked with Camilla a lot, so she is very comfortable with me, but can be sensitive about things such as having nails clipped etc. However, she seemed to know that I was going to help her feel better as I gently brushed and combed her tail, then cleaned it with a wipe. This process took about ten minutes, which can seem like a long time. At first I wasn't sure how she was going to react, but I think she must have sensed that this would make her more comfortable, so she curled up and relaxed on my lap as I did this. After I finished, I thanked her and did some TTouch and Reiki with her so she could end up on a very relaxed note.
Many thanks to these sweet cats and to the other animals who teach me so much every day.

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