Pixie is a beautiful young tabby girl with a lot of charisma. She is very friendly, and is completely at ease especially with her favorite Bideawee person, Steve, and probably with others with whom she is very accustomed. However, she can get overstimulated at times and swat, especially when someone new, such as a potential adopter, tries to make contact with her. So I have been working with her to help encourage her to stay in a calmer zone when she is being touched.
I have found that with cats who have this type of behavior, if you get them accustomed to having contact that does not get them to the point where they swat, over time the swatting behavior subsides. It is so beautiful to see that process, especially in a shelter, because it not only means that the animal feels better, it also increases her chances for adoption.
First of all, what I have seen is that Pixie needs a few moments to just get used to the person being near her, rather than the person quickly sticking their hand at her to pet her. I can understand that!
When it is Pixie's turn to be let out of her cage, I have found that it is best to leave her alone and let her explore for a while, and then when she decides to settle somewhere, I begin to do TTouches and/or Reiki with her. And if I am working with her in the cage, I approach her gradually - standing near her cage calmly for a moment, then speaking to her a bit, approaching her a little bit at a time with a paintbrush, then gradually doing TTouches with my hand. I actually do the same process when she is out of the cage, but adding on the part of letting her explore for a bit before approaching her.
I first saw that Pixie really responded to the energy of both TTouch and Reiki when I was actually working with another cat, Coral. Coral was outside the cage and Pixie was in her cage, which happened to be next to where I was.
As Coral began to calm with the work I was doing, I noticed Pixie changing from a hyper-alert look to a very mellow, relaxed look, her eyes closing.
With different cats I use different tools - I have a number of different types of paintbrushes, back scratchers, feathers, etc. Pixie seemed like she would respond to a paintbrush, one that is not too thick, so that is what I have used with her. I start out doing little circular TTouches around the outside of her mouth, the top of her head, and over time, have added TTouches and strokes on her body as well.
In the beginning, I would do just a few TTouches, pause, observe her behavior, and then continue, a little at a time. Over time, she has been comfortable with longer and longer periods of contact, leaning into the brush, rolling on her side, etc, really relaxing into it. Only maybe once has she swatted at me, and when that happened, I gave her a break, worked with another cat or two, then came back to her later.
With this type of work, Pixie has become more and more accustomed to responding to touch by relaxing rather than striking out, as long as the approach is gentle. It is so important to watch a cat's body language and listen to what they are ready to do, rather than imposing our will on them. In this way, a cat does not feel cornered.
After Pixie became accustomed to me working with her with the paintbrush, I was able to start working my hand down the paintbrush and have begun doing TTouches with her directly with my hand. I do keep my hand on the paintbrush, or keep it nearby, in case I need to transition back to the paintbrush. It really is like a dance. The minute I feel Pixie may get a bit unsure, I go back to using the paintbrush and then may give her a break altogether for a bit. I am constantly watching her body language, with the idea of stopping BEFORE it is too much. So I am watching and feeling for any subtle signs of agitation. After a while it gets easier to anticipate those moments because I get used to her rhythm. Even when I am doing what I think may be strictly TTouch with her, Reiki is definitely flowing, so we have a connection in that energetic way as well.
Each time I work with Pixie, it feels like the positive energy coming from her is building and building, and I know that others can see it and feel it too. Usually when this type of momentum gets going, I feel that sometime in the near future, it will be her time, time for the right person or people to arrive to take her to her forever home.
See you soon Pixie, unless you go home first!
As always, I have to thank all at Bideawee for all the love and care they give to the animals. xo