Sunday, March 25, 2012
TTouch and Reiki with Feral Cats: Griffin and Samantha
Griffin and Samantha are two young feral cats who I have been working with for a few months at BARC Shelter in Brooklyn. They arrived hissing and absolutely terrified, and over time they have become more and more receptive to contact. Griffin is the more frightened of the two, so my blog posts up til now have focused on her, but I will discuss Samantha here as well.
For a while Griffin seemed in a little bit of an in-between place where she wasn't sure whether she wanted to use an approaching hand as a toy or to settle into being touched. She has grown much more used to the concept of being touched very gently, so now will just be a bit startled for a moment when I first make contact, but once she feels my hands begin to make the gentle circular motions of the TTouches, she settles into it and relaxes. I first touch her forehead with the back of my fingers, do a few TTouches with the backs of my fingers, then usually turn my hand over for some Raccoon TTouches.
I do Raccoon TTouches (circular TTouches using the tips of the fingers) around her forehead area, as this is a place she is accustomed to and she soon closes her eyes and settles in. And now I have been able to work in TTouches around the outside of the mouth area, which is a wonderful area to work, especially with a frightened animal, as it connects with the limbic system, which affects the emotions.
The catch-22 about the mouth work is that it is a risky area to work if you are in danger of being bitten, so you have to use common sense about what is appropriate for the animal at any particular time. It may be useful to TTouch the outside of the mouth area first with a tool, something with a smaller surface like a small paintbrush or even a toothbrush.
However, I have worked with Griffin enough, and have TTouched her close to this area, so it was not a shock for her to feel my hand touching her mouth area.
Depending on how I am positioned, it is often convenient to do the TTouches using my thumb, while my fingers are in a more stabilized position on her head, rather than the other way around. So this is the way I have been doing the mouth TTouches with Griffin. I started out by sliding my thumb outside of the mouth, then doing connected TTouches going along the outside of the mouth.
As you can see by the photos, she settled right into the TTouches, and I could feel and see the rest of her become more relaxed as a result as well. One can work inside the mouth, on the gums etc but I rarely do this with fearful cats since that can be a bit too close for comfort to the teeth!
Next I worked with Samantha. Samantha is quite fearful as well, but tends to react to people by shutting down rather than swatting, so she has been quicker to be receptive to TTouches. I also began by doing raccoon TTouches on her forehead, then began to do little slides on the outside of her mouth area, then transitioning to doing connected TTouches around her mouth area.
She was very receptive to all this, and began to relax the rest of her body little by little as I did these. I could hear and feel her doing a very quiet little purr! At times recently I have heard little Griffin purr as well.
Samantha is receptive to being touched on her body as well as her head area. Two of the types of TTouches that are comforting to her are the Lying Leopard TTouch, which is a circular TTouch done with the hand very flattened out, which most of the surface of the fingers in contact with her body, and the zigzag TTouch, in which I am opening and closing my hand at the same time that I am moving my hand in a zigzag pattern. Here is a youtube clip of part of my TTouch/Reiki session with Samantha: http://youtu.be/pINP0hAQlv4
I do the Lying Leopard TTouches going down one side of her body then the other, doing a circle and a quarter, sliding my hand a little further down her back, then doing another TTouch, etc. The zigzag TTouches I do going from one side of her back to the other, while going from her neck area down towards her tail. Zigzags can be done going down one side of the body at a time, if you prefer. Please check my youtube site: http://youtube.com/sarahsuricat for demos of many of the TTouches.
At times I would pause and just feel the Reiki energy, which was constantly flowing, be absorbed into her body. I could also see her relaxing on an even deeper level when I would do this, closing her eyes. Her body stretched out more and more as I worked with her.
I make sure to maintain an especially quiet energy with both Griffin and Samantha, as they can become startled so easily. It is also important to make sure your breath is not held, that it is constantly flowing.
It is such a pleasure to see both of these cats becoming more comfortable. Before they would always remain at the back of the cage until we left for the night but now they will come right to the front to eat, etc.
Much love to you Griffin and Samantha - look forward to seeing you soon! xo