Hi folks, happy July 4th!
Quinn is a big grey and white cat with a big personality at BARC shelter. As with many if not most shelter cats, I feel must have gone through some serious trauma before arriving at the shelter. He seems to have some feral-ness in him, and seems to want attention but to be afraid of it at the same time, and seems to be very ultra-sensitive. He sticks his paw out of the cage to say hello, but then if you open his cage to try to touch him, he seems to be overwhelmed by a hand coming into his cage. He will sometimes swat, and, though he has never used his claws along with the swat with me, the swat is a bit unnerving because it is fast, and he also vocalizes along with the swat.
I have been working with him using a paintbrush, but thought it was time to try another texture, as he initially responded to the paintbrush but then seemed to be irritated by it. I also felt that I needed to approach him from the side of his cage instead of from the front.
So the next took I decided to try is a long feather. I did little strokes and circular touches around his head and face, working in a few strokes down the body. He immediately found these soothing, as you can see by his expression below.
I am touching him with the flat part of the feather, not the end of the feather, and using just enough pressure to move the skin around in a clockwise circle and a quarter. It is a very light touch. I stop to give him breaks frequently, and do not do too long of a session, to avoid him becoming overstimulated (which he will tell you about with a MEOW). Every once in a while I can sneak my hand in there for a few touches. I am standing to the side of his cage and putting the feather through the bars in the cage.
Using the feather with him felt like a real breakthrough, as though he was able to really settle with these touches in a way that was not possible before.
As I worked with him with the feather, he grew so sleepy and relaxed, it was lovely to see. I was able to work with him for a longer time than usual, and felt the relaxation to be deeper than I had seen before in him.