Recently, a group of 5 feral kittens arrived at BARC shelter, and I was asked to work with them to help them to be more comfortable and to be more at ease being touched by people, which in turn helps them to be more adoptable animals. And of course we want these little babies to all have homes soon :)
Initially they were terrified, squished up against the back of the cage, moving very little. They would often wait til people weren't walking by or watching to come forward to where the food and water bowls are. They hissed when you opened their cage or moved your hand towards them.
Before I began to try doing TTouch with them, I sent them Reiki from a short distance away. I could see them start to relax with the soothing Reiki energy.
To get them accustomed to being touched in a non-threatening way, I started out by using a very long feather to touch them. I did little circular TTouches and strokes with the feather, around their head area and then working in some touches going down the body. Little by little I noticed their muscles start to relax and their breathing began to slow down (they were nervous so you could see that their breathing was sped up as well).
The circular movements of TTouch are a non-habitual movement, so often when you begin to work with an animal doing these touches, you will see them stop in their tracks and look at you as if to say, "wait a minute, that feels different!". Usually they realize the touches are very gentle and do feel good, so little by little you see the behavior and body language change.
It wasn't long before I was able to work my hand down the feather to begin doing TTouches with my hands. I found that doing little raccoon Ttouches around the outside of the mouth area (which is connected with the limbic system, which has to do w/emotions) and doing ear strokes (there are many acupressure points in the ear) were particularly helpful in soothing these little creatures.
Since there are five kittens in the cage, I would work on one for a little bit, then go to another, so as not to overwhelm them. The kittens not being worked on would often watch and look at me wondering what was going to happen next.
After some sessions with them, it was time to take the next step and get these little ones used to being picked up and held. They still were running away initially when most people were trying to pet them.