Sunday, October 31, 2010

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Jan

Jan is a lovely white cat with one blue eye and one green eye. She arrived at BARC shelter in Brooklyn recently after her owner passed away. When she arrived, she was very very frightened, and has mostly stuck to the back corner of her cage. For the first week or so, I felt her body was rather frozen. She did not object to me doing TTouch on her, and she did stretch out her body and breathe more easily afterwards, but she still seemed afraid to move from where she was in the cage. I finger-fed her a bit with wet food to get her started eating, as she seemed too frightened to eat as well.
This week she was moved to a different cage in a more central location of the shelter, and she seemed less frozen but still scared. Now instead of staying frozen stiff, she would flinch and move backwards when you first approach her. I began tempting her to come to the front of the cage with the Halo liv-a-little treats. It took her a while to get up the courage to take these, but once she tasted them she would come to the front to get them. The past few days, I mostly did TTouch on her forehead and a bit around the outside of her mouth. She was hesitant to be touched on her body, so I just did that a bit here and there.
Today was a quiet day in the shelter and the cats were very relaxed in general. While I was working on other cats in the shelter, I noticed Jan coming to the front of the cage to eat on her own. When I first put my hand in to do some TTouch with her, she did go to the back of the cage initially. I held my hands open, sending Reiki to her, and though my hands felt a bit chilly at first, I saw her receive the energy, and it was as though we were connected with the energy passing back and forth.
Then I began to do a few little raccoon touches on her forehead, and some slides and circles along the outside of her mouth. All of a sudden I felt her start to rub her head against my hand. This is the first time I had felt her respond like this. She began to rub her head against the side of the cage, then began to knead the padded bed she sleeps on. This was such a huge breakthrough for her! Then she rolled over on her side, exposing her belly to my hand, and I was able to continue to do some circular ttouches there as well. It was so sweet to see her so comfortable, it really brought a tear to my eye. After a while I decided to let her be, not wanting to overwhelm her. I thanked her and closed the cage. Below you see her kneading her bed.

Then she came to the front of her cage and started vigorously eating her food. It was as though her heart had opened and so much light was pouring out.

Here's to you Jan, I'm so glad to see you feeling so much more at ease and look forward to working with you more, so that this relaxation and comfort can become more and more part of your way of being.

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Dr. Teeth

Dr. Teeth is a beautiful little female kitty who is one of a bunch of cats who recently arrived at BARC Shelter because their owner had passed away. She is VERY shy and sensitive, so I have had to work with her extremely quietly and slowly. I have had to be very aware of slowing myself down before I begin to work with her so that she is not jarred by too much energy coming at her.
A while back, Cookie at Homeless Cat Network shared with me about Halo Liv-a-Littles treats. These are natural treats which cats really love, and it has helped to break the ice recently with some of the new cats. With Dr. Teeth, I first put one in front of her, and she ate it. Then I put a little trail of the treats leading up to the front of her cage where her food and water are. I closed the cage and gave her a break, and she ate the treats, then ate some of her food and drank some water in the front of the cage.
Before Saturday, I had mostly done Reiki at a short distance with Dr. Teeth. The other day I tried touching her with a long feather and got a few touches in, then stopped, as she swatted at the feather and that seemed to be enough. On Saturday I decided to try a plastic back scratcher with a long handle with her. So, after doing the trail of treats and giving her a break, I came back up to the cage again. Before I opened the cage, I began to speak to her in a very low, slow, comforting voice to reassure her. I opened the door of the cage and touched her lightly on the back with the back of the hand of the back scratcher. Af first she started to move backwards to the back of the cage, but interestingly enough, once I began to do a few slow circles on her back with the scratcher, she settled down. I did a few more and she settled a bit then that seemed to be enough, so I took it away. She was now sitting up, and I talked to her again in a low, comforting voice, breathing very slowly, and little by little she settled back into a lying-down position, blinking at me, and folding her front paws underneath. I let her be for a bit, just standing quietly and then repeated this whole process a few times.
Little by little I feel she is starting to trust me. This is such a learning process for me as well, as I really had to continuously and consciously keep in slowed-down mode, hearing even my thoughts and words like a record that has been put at a slower speed.
Thank you Dr. Teeth, for trusting me to start to make contact with you, and I look forward to working with you and the other little ones at BARC soon.

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Princess

Princess is a lovely little kitty at BARC shelter. She has been quite a challenge to connect with. She does relax if I do reiki a short distance from where she is, but many times she is very hesitant to being touched. Part of her defensiveness could come from the fact that she was declawed by a previous owner. Many people do not realize that declawing a cat is like amputating the top of the cat's fingers, it is a very traumatic operation and can often affect the behavior of the cat afterwards. They can become a lot more defensive. Who could blame them?

It will just take continued patience, and working short spurts of time to get her more accustomed to being touched and more trusting.

I started giving her some Halo liv-a-little treats, which she loves. Right after giving the treats, I will do a few little circular touches on her head, and maybe a stroke with the back of my hand down her body. Now she will come to the front of the cage in anticipation of a treat, but is still generally hesitant to being touched, so I will just do a few touches, then give her a break, then try again. Sometimes if she is in a sleepy mood she feels comfortable with a few more touches around the forehead, but is still hesitant about being touched on her body. I have tried working with some of the tools we use - feathers, paintbrushes, etc and she does not like these at all, it seems that they irritate her, so I'll see what happens with doing reiki sometimes, and the treats and a few touches other times. Time and patience.

Saturday at BARC Shelter: Reiki with a Rescued Bird

Saturday I was at BARC shelter in Brooklyn and while I was there, this little bird was rescued from the streets. Apparently it has a problem with one of its wings, I think. I'm not sure what kind of bird it is but it definitely doesn't look like a species native to Brooklyn!
I was asked if I wanted to do a treatment on it and of course I was only too happy to do this. The bird seemed friendly but I didn't want to startle it by trying to touch it, so I did Reiki from a short distance. I was careful to try not to overpower it with too much energy, as it is a much smaller creature than a dog or cat.
It was very interesting what happened. The bird had just recently been put into a cage and was walking around exploring the small space, looking at food and water that had been left for it but not eating or drinking, just walking around.
I started letting Reiki flow from my hands. I was standing with the cage door open but dod not put my hands inside. The bird began to walk less frantically little by little, then suddenly just stood in place, absolutely still, though not stiffly so, receiving the Reiki energy. I stayed there for just a short while, as the shelter was soon closing, but I could feel the energy passing from me to the bird and back to me, connecting us. All the while I was saying to the bird, partly out loud and partly with my mind, that it was in a safe place and that it would be taken care of. When it was time to leave, I said good night and it began to move a little again, but it seem to be calmer than it had been.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TTouch and Reiki at BARC:Statler

Statler is one of cats at BARC shelter in Brooklyn who arrived at the shelter because their owner passed away. He is a beautiful long-haired cat, still very shy but very gentle and you can tell he has a very sweet disposition, it is just taking some time for him to adjust and to trust.

I have been working with him slowly, a little bit at a time. One of the areas I have been working on with him is on the outside of his mouth, which can hold a lot of tension, and can be a key to a lot of relaxation. I have been doing little raccoon touches (circular touches with the tip of your finger) on the outside of his mouth, going back to his jaw area. I can feel him start to relax when I do this, and sometimes he starts to rub his mouth against my hand a little bit. I have also been stroking his ears, and even doing little slides on his extremely long whiskers. For these, you gently stroke the whiskers from the base all the way out to the tip, and sometimes you can do an extremely gentle circle and stroke on the whiskers. Please keep in mind this is very gentle, not pulling.

Another thing which can provide a lot of relaxation and promote good digestion and breathing is a belly lift. Just gently put your hand underneath the belly and lift up just the tinest amount, then slowly release it. Again, this is the subtlest of movements. When I did this with Statler the first time, he rolled over onto his side, exposing his belly to me, which was a very brave breakthrough for him.

Often when I finish doing TTouch with him, he often will look straight at me with such a sweet expression, which I feel all the way inside my heart. I think and sometimes say to him that he is in a safe place. And, as with the other cats who have just arrived, we put Rescue remedy in their water, and sometimes I put it on the tips of their ears, as I do with Statler, to help provide some more relaxation for them.

Thank you Statler, we will be patient with you and let you take the time it takes to become comfortable with new people.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adoptions at BARC

Hi folks, there have been a lot of adoptions at BARC Shelter recently - and yesterday, 7 new cats got homes, including sweet FIV positive cat Xena, two of the new cats (Crazy Harry and Bunsen), Marcy and Bud (kittens), Billie, and Muffin (pictured above).
Muffin was a semi-feral young kitty who was in a cage with her friend Mittens when I started volunteering at BARC in August. These two were very wary of being touched when I got there. I spent a lot of time doing TTouch on them which, in addition to the love and attention they got from other staff and volunteers, helped them to really come around. Mittens was adopted a couple of weeks ago and yesterday sweet Muffin went to a lovely family who already have another cat. I had to do a few TTouches and say a special goodbye to her before she left. I also showed the young daughter of the family how to do a little TTouch :)
I wish all of these cats well in their new homes and thanks BARC for rescuing these and so many other animals.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Cats at BARC: Animal and Camilla

Animal and Camilla are two more of the sweet kitties who recently came to BARC after their owner passed away. Unfortunately both of them have ongoing digestive issues and the vet thinks they probably have irritable bowel syndrome. They are receiving medication and a special diet to help them, and I have been spending a good deal of time with both these kitties doing TTouch and Reiki to help them feel more comfortable and to help them be as in balance as they can be.

Animal is a very petite tortie girl kitty who is blind in one eye. She was quite shy initially, and still sometimes will pull her head away or run to the back of her cage when you move your hand towards her, but now once you start to touch her, she usually will become comfortable fairly quickly. Now once I start to do some circular TTouches and zigzag TTouches (crossing from one side of the body to the other) on her, she starts to press her body or head into my hand. Very sweet! I have been doing Reiki on her as well. I have felt a great deal of heat in the lower part of her body, so often I will place my hands there. She settles and appears to be comforted by this.

I have also been using a jelly scrubber with her. You can purchase this item cheaply at, or you can get one that is smaller and more comfortable for some cats on the TTouch website (though it is more expensive). I have been using the one from I do a circle then a long stroke with it, and it must feel like it is massaging her body. She leans into it and seems to be quite comforted by it. It must help with her circulation, too, which should be helpful. Her coat has been looking better and better since I gave her a bath and started doing this work on her.

And, though she is still dealing with ongoing digestive issues, she appears generally more comfortable. The work stimulates her appetite as well, which is great.

Camilla (pictured above and below) is a petite little brown tabby. She is just dear. I gave her a bath as well shortly after she arrived, which helped her well-being too. I do Reiki on her sometimes, and she often will press her body into my hands where she wants to be touched, so I go with that, as Reiki will go where it needs to go anyway.

I am also doing TTouch with Camilla. She especially responds to me doing abalone TTouches down each side of her body, and then zigzag TTouches from one side of the body to the other. These seem to connect her body from one end to the other, as well as creating warmth and stimulation. She will usually eat and/or drink some water after being worked on as well. And with Camille as well, even though it is clear she still has ongoing issues, she generally looks as though she is more comfortable in her body than when she first came in.
oh, one more ttouch I have been using with both these petite ladies is the belly lift. Please keep in mind that especially with delicate kitties like these, it is such a subtle movement that hardly any movement is happening at all, just the tiniest pressure upward, barely indenting the skin, then a very slow release. It promotes better digestion and respiration. If you try this on yourself, you will see that it helps your belly to relax and also reminds you to BREATHE.
If you'd like to see some demonstrations of some of these ttouches, please visit my youtube channel
I look forward to working more with these and the other sweet cats at BARC!

New Cats at BARC: Dr, Teeth, Waldorf, and Statler

The past week I have spent a lot of time with some new cats who arrived whose owner passed away. Many of these cats were very frightened upon arrival at the shelter, and are gradually coming around.
One of them who is having a very hard time is Dr. Teeth (pictured above). She has no teeth, which is why her tongue sticks out sometimes. She is too frightened to be touched right now, and always still remains at the very back of her cage. Yesterday I stood a few inches from her cage, offering Reiki to her. Little by little I saw her eyes relax and nearly close, and I felt her sigh a bit. Her breathing began to get easier, even though there were people who needed to pass by her cage (her cage is on the corner of a row so I was actually standing around the corner from the pathway where people were passing). I stayed there for quite a while, mostly silent, but every once in a while speaking softly to her, reassuring her that she was in a safe place and that she would be treated kindly here. We need to be very patient with her and know that because she is frightened, that what to us may seem a very small step is a very big step for her. I have been sending her and the others distant Reiki when I am not at the shelter as well.

Right next to Dr. Teeth is Statler. As you can see, he is a very handsome cat, with long, soft fur. He looks very skeptical here, but he has been gradually betting more comfortable with being touched. I mostly focus with ttouches around his mouth area and head area, with some strokes and circles going down his body. His tail is very tight so there have been a few times when I have been able to hold the tail and do a few very subtle, small rotations with it, to remind him that it is there and that he has the option of relaxing it more. As I continued working with him, now he will rub his face against my hand when I do the strokes and circles around his mouth area, and he will stretch out and move his body a bit, instead of being always stuck in a frozen position.

To the left of him is Waldorf (pictured above). He also looks a bit grumpy in his picture, but he has also started to become "unfrozen" after doing TTouch work with him for several days. Yesterday I brought some extra-yummy treats made by Halo called liv-a-littles. I put a few of these on his shelf and he loved them. He is still a bit wary of touch, but once I start doing a few soft strokes on his head, he starts to settle a bit, though he also holds the back end of his body quite tightly, so I am starting to do connected circular touches on him that go from the head to the base of the tail to help him have more awareness of his whole body. A few minutes after I worked with him yesterday, I saw him actually get off the shelf and come to the front of the cage, where I had left a few treats to entice him and where his food bowl was. He began to eat the treats and then eat out of his food bowl. This was a big step for him, as usually when people are around he will not get off the shelf in the back of his cage.
Bravo to all these dear ones and I look forward to working with them more and thank them for trusting me with them. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Cats at BARC Shelter: Kermit

A few days ago, a bunch of new cats arrived at BARC Shelter from a woman who recently passed away. They were initially very stressed and confused, most of them are staying in the back of their cages, sometimes hiding underneath beds or pillows in their cages or sleeping in the litter box. Most of them were not eating initially. Everyone is doing their best to make these cats feel at home, and it is great to see them gradually becoming more comfortable.

One of the first cats who I decided to work on, who quickly stole my heart, is Kermit. Kermit was completely hiding underneath his bed curled up in a corner at the back of his cage. I said hello to him, gently lifted up the bed to see how he was doing and could tell from his body language that he was frightened but did not seem aggressive at all. I started out by doing some TTouches on his head with the back of my fingers, and gradually worked my way down to his body, doing abalone ttouches, which are very comforting as they use the whole hand. Little by little I felt him warm up to me, and he began rubbing his head against my hand and slowly walking forward towards the front of his cage. I slid his food dish towards him, and he sniffed and started eating and eating. I continued doing TTouch on him as he was eating, as this seemed to be encouraging him to keep on eating. It seemed as though once he relaxed, he realized he was hungry. I gave him a break, but came back to his cage a number of times, to continue to reassure him, and because he was SO responsive and seemed to want more.

A couple of days later, we gave him a bath. It turned out that he LOVED it. I incorporated TTouches as I was washing him, as well as when I was drying him with the towel, and he was leaning and rubbing himself against my hands in a way that let me know he was really enjoying it. I kept drying him an extra-long time because he just seemed to like it so much. When we left, we put a towel over him like a blanket to make him feel extra-cozy (below he is pictured under the towel).

The day after the bath when I went to see him, initially he was sleeping in his litter box at the very back of the cage. Again I started doing some TTouches on his head and then his body, speaking very gently and reassuring him, and he soon came forward to the very front of the cage. I continued doing TTouch on him and also combed out his fur. I then gave him a break, but would come back to him every now and then for some attention as he kept looking at me with his huge eyes, wondering what was going to happen next. He stayed in the front of the cage for the rest of the day, looking very engaged and curious, like he had really come out of hiding. And he was resting there in the front of the cage when we left for the night.
Yesterday when I arrived at the shelter, he was still in the front of the cage, rubbing his head against the cage, asking for attention. This was such a pleasure to see! One of the other volunteers had been petting him and combing him, and when I opened the cage he was just about ready to come out onto my lap. It is really a delight to see, within just a few days, this cat come from underneath his bed at the back of his cage and now he spends the whole time hanging out in the front of the cage, ready for love and attention. I wish this sweet kitty the best - his huge eyes really make a direct connection with your heart!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mayor's Alliance Cats: October 18

I went to work again on the Mayor's Alliance rescue cats through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program. While I was riding my bike to the boarding facility, I was thinking so much about sweet Irene (pictured above) and thinking and wondering if she had been adopted. I have worked with this cat a lot and she is still a little shy but has become SO much more comfortable, she comes to the front of the cage, meowing, asking for attention. The song "Goodnight Irene" was playing in my head. This cat is so sweet!

So when I got to the facility, I found out that sure enough, Irene was aopted, hooray! I wish her all the best in her new home.

Next, I noticed that Bree (pictured above) was pawing incessantly on the plexiglas door of her cage, wanting to get out. I was only too happy to oblige. She is extremely sweet but can get over-stimulated easily, so I tend to use the more calming touches with my whole hand, like the llama ttouch (circular touch with the back of my hand) and abalone ttouch. When she started approaching a place where she seemed over-stimulated, I stopped TTouching her and began to do Reiki on her, which had a calming effect. Her energy level came down a notch while I was working with her.

Next was Cheeks (pictured above). This little youngster came bounding out of her cage and was very happy to be out, stretching her legs and moving around a bit. As she is quite a hyped-up girl, I also used abalone and llama ttouches on her, as well as some slow zigzags. She was so sweet, putting her front paws on my shoulders as though to hug me, putting her face right up in my face. Meanwhile, most of the other cats were eager to get out, pawing at the plexi as Bree had done. This seemed to be a theme for the day.

Two new youngsters, Martini and Mimosa (above) were at the shelter. I took them out one by one, and they were both extremely sociable, purring gently the entire time. I held each one and did clouded leopard, abalone and chimp ttouches, which they were very comfortable with. They were not so comfortable with the ear slides, but some cats are a bit sensitive being touched on the ears or sometimes it takes them a while to be comfortable touched there, so I will try again with them, varying the pressure to see if that makes a difference. I also played with these little ones as they have so much energy. They love to chase little toys on the end of a string!

Next was sweet Oreo. She used to get very over-stimulated but has become progressively calmer and sweeter as time has gone by. As she has done before, she put her front paws up on my shoulders, bringing her face right into my face. She is a cat who really responds to ear slides, so I usually do these on her. I also did connected chimp touches going down her body to connect the whole body. what a sweetheart!

Tiger is a big tabby (sorry, didn't get a picture this time). This kitty is so calm, she preferred to just stay in her cage and relax and stretch out as I did chinp and abalone ttouches. She was purring and rubbing her head against me the whole time.
Next was Millie, a new, lovely Siamese kitty. She seemed a little shy at first as she was hanging out in the back of her cage, so I approached her with very gentle energy and started out with some raccoon TTouches on her head. Pretty soon she began to walk forward, rubbing her head against my hand as I continued doing TTouches on her head, followed by strokes with the back of my hand going down her body. She let me know when she had enough with a little hiss (no scratching or biting). I offered her Reiki, and began to see her energy calm down until she curled up for a little Reiki nap.
What happened as I offered Reiki to Millie was so interesting. When I had been doing TTouch on her, some of the cats were still quite revved up, wanting to be let back out of their cages again. Though TTouch calmed them while I was working with them, they appeared to be seeking more attention and some were pawing at their cages. While Reiki was pouring out of my hands, even though I was focused on Millie to start with, soon I noticed that all the other cats in the room were becoming very calm and sleepy, some of them grooming themselves and others curling up for a nap (see Millie and Mimosa below). After I notice this, I began to imagine the Reiki coming out of the pores of my whole body, filling the room. It was so lovely to feel such a peaceful hush in the room.

Whiskers Rescue Ranch: Dallas and Ali

Dallas (above) and Ali (below) are two gorgeous little kitties up for adoption at Whiskers Rescue Ranch in Whiskers Holistic Pet Store in NYC.

When I went there last week, both seemed very stressed out still. There had been a third cat, Doc, in the space with the two of them. He is a very dominant cat and they were both afraid of him. Dallas grew more comfortable once I began to do some TTouch with her, but she seemed to be intimidated by Ali. Ali did not want me to touch her, so I sat down and began to offer her Reiki from where I was sitting, a few feet away. She went and sat on a perch near me to receive the Reiki and both cats became more relaxed.

This past week, I tried to see if Ali would be up for some TTouch at a distance, using two long-handled paintbrushes, one for her to play with and the other to try and stroke her. First, she batted the brushes away and then she went to hide on a perch way up above, so unfortunately that didn't work so well! I think I will have to simply do Reiki at a bit of a distance with her for a while until she becomes more comfortable.

Dallas, on the other hand, was SO much more comfortable when I went this week. She came right up to me for TTouch, and after a while I could put her in my lap for a short time. She walked back and forth, rubbing her body against my hand as I did llama ttouches, ear strokes, chimp touches and abalone ttouches with her. She still keeps her distance from Ali but she does not seem to be intimidated by her presence and seems to be at ease going to whatever part of the enclosure that suits her, unlike the week before, where there was hissing on both their parts when one was near the other.

I am glad to see Dallas so much more comfortable, and will send little Ali some distant Reiki this week in hopes that she will feel less stressed after a while, and then be able to be a bit more trusting. Much love to these sweet cats!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Macduff and Misty - Oct 13

Hi folks, today I went to work with friend and animal communicator Eileen Garfinkel;s cats. Misty was taken in a few months ago when Eileen's neighbor passed away, and Duff is having a hard time adjusting to having her there. In addition, Misty has had some health problems, so since Eileen has had to spend time and energy helping Misty with the health problems, this makes Duff feel even more put out. Misty continues to try to make friends with Duff (pictured below), and tries to be low-key and out of the way.

I have been doing TTouch and Reiki on both of her cats, in hopes that making both cats feel more comfortable will eventually help them to be more comfortable with each other.

Today Misty was interested in hanging out in a little bag in the closet, one of her latest cozy spots, and Duff initially ran away from me, hiding under the bed. I left both of them alone for a bit. Then I went into the bedroom, sad down on the floor and Duff was peering around the edge of the bed at me. I offered him Reiki from where I was. He seemed interested, got closer and closer and then went by me and into the living room, into one of his cozy spots, his carrier. He seemed to not want to be touched, but when I began to offer him Reiki again from several feet away, I found him to be receptive and I moved closer until I was about a foot or so away. I could feel energy streaming out of my hands and imagined light all around him. He got very relaxed, was blinking at me and then settled into an almost-nap, occasionally peering at me out of one eye and then closing it again. When I felt it had been enough for him, I thanked him and ended the session with him. He looked extremely relaxed.

Then I went to see Misty (pictured above) in the closet. I sat alongside her and gently did some small circles on her head. Many times she can only take being touched for a very short time, so I stopped a bunch of times as I went, to give her a break and make sure I was not overwhelming her. As I continued, I began to work in ear strokes, raccoon touches on the outside of the mouth, and then abalone ttouches going down her body. First I heard a faint purr and then she purred louder and louder as we went. She seemed more comfortable than I have ever seen her, and was at ease having me do TTouch on her for a longer time than she has ever done before. She really settled into the touches, and seemed to want me to continue for a long time. When she had enough, she gracefully got up and walked into the next room and finished eating her food, then went to play with one of her toys.
I was so glad to see this, and happy to see that her energy in general seems better, that she is much more alert and seems healthier than I have seen her before. She has also had a better appetite, so all of that is great. There do seem to be some signs that Duff is letting his guard down with Misty a bit too. Eileen is doing all manner of things to make both cats comfortable and confident, including bach flower remedies, proper nutrition, communitating with the cats (she is an animal communicator), etc. and all these things seem to be gently moving things in a positive direction. I look forward to continuing working with Eileen and her lovely cats.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Cat Loft at BARC Shelter, Muffin and Princess

Muffin is a lovely kitty youngster at BARC shelter. She and her former cagemate Mittens were extremely shy and did not want to be touched at first. After a lot of socialization by other people at BARC as well as me, both these little ones really came around, and recently Mittens was adopted. Muffin probably misses her cagemate, but she has come around even more after he was adopted. She will now lay on her back for belly rubs, etc. She still will most likely be shy initially when someone adopts her, but I think with a little patience, she will become quite comfortable in a home. I have been doing a lot of TTouch around her mouth area, as well as calming abalone ttouches on her body, and these seem to really be helping her get accustomed to being touched.

Princess is still very wary of people. She is declawed, which may account for some of this. I have been working with her in a very gentle way. If she is not in the mood to be touched, I offer her Reiki from about 7-8 inches away, and she is extremely responsive to this, it makes her feel very relaxed. Sometimes she is ok with me doing small raccoon ttouches on her forehead area. Once in a while I can get a couple of strokes down her body. It just feels like she is ultra-sensitive and ultra-wary of people. I want to be respectful of where she is and just go at the pace she is comfortable with.

Please Don't Call them "Mean Cats": the Continued Journey of Cher

Hi folks, I have been spending a lot of time with beautiful kitty Cher at BARC shelter in Brooklyn. She has been at the shelter a long time. Most people are afraid to deal with her because she can quickly shift her energy and swat quite hard. A few other people at BARC and I have been working with her slowly and steadily and she has really been making progress.

The other day, when she was in relaxed mode, sitting on my lap PURRING, a volunteer who had not been there for a while entered and said "Is that the mean cat?"

I think I just was not processing what she said, as I never refer to cats as "mean cats", and I wasn't sure if I heard her right, so I asked her again. "Is that the MEAN CAT??"

and I said, "Do you mean Cher?" "Yes, the mean cat."

I have to take a minute to protest this term, "mean". I really prefer if someone describes the behavior, for example - that cat will swat when it gets over-stimulated, or that cat is very frightened of other cats, etc. People putting their subjective value judgments on an animal, instead of looking at the animal in a more compassionate, understanding way, is SO unhelpful to the animal and perpetuates a negative picture of the animal, making it more difficult for it to see and to be seen in a more positive way.

Soo, with that in mind, following is more about my adventure with Cher, in which she teaches me so much.

A few weeks ago, when I first started working with her, I started out by using long-handled brushes probably used for barbequeing. If she attached one brush, I could do circles and strokes on her with the other brush. I kept the sessions extremely short, just a few circles and strokes, then closing the cage. The next step was that she was comfortable enough to come out of the cage and onto my lap, just walking onto my lap briefly and then going back into the cage. When she came out, I did a few circles and strokes on her with the brushes, , sometimes rolling and stroking with the wooden handles on the other ends of the brushes. Little by little I was able to touch her more with my hands, and lately she has been purring, settling in my lap and I am able to touch her on her head and her body with my hand.

I have been reminded a few times though, that I can't let my mind stray while I am touching her because she still can get suddenly startled and get into extreme play mode and swat or suddenly think my leg is a toy to pounce on. So I have started putting a towel in my lap to provide a bit more protection in case she does this, and am more careful to limit the time of the sessions so that there is less possibility for her to get into a ramped-up mode. My cat Garbanzo shares a lot of similarities with Cher's personality. They can be quite loving and affectionate once they warm up to you but you have to really respect their limits, as when they become over-stimulated or get into play mode, you have to give them a break, either leave them be or redirect their energy and play with them with a toy. They can also get overwhelmed with too much contact, and sometimes can get startled with loud noises or other animals, so it is necessary to give them the space that they need.

This type of personality requires a lot of time and patience in working with them but the rewards are very huge. I feel that a person with a quiet, patient energy who could spend the time to let Cher become comfortable and not push her for a lot of contact too fast would be able to do well with her. I think once she is in a home, out of a cage, it will be easier for her to chill out even more. In the meantime, I am so glad she is able to have more and more calm, purring moments in my lap or with the other patient people who work with her.

Mayor's Alliance Cats: Oct 3 and 11, Adoptions and New Arrivals!

As I'm writing this after the fact, first I can tell you that some of the lovely Mayor's Alliance cats who I have been working with thru Tavi and Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program have been adopted, hooray. Ophelia and Rascal (pictured above), Vaska (below), Diego (below Vaska), and Ty (below that). I will miss them, but am so happy that they have new homes. I wish them well!

Oct 3 - when I entered, both Vaska and Diego were particularly staring at me, and Irene was doing her usual little meow. First I worked with Irene. She has become so much more comfortable, it is a pleasure to see. She now really seeks attention, coming right to the front of the cage. You still have to be careful not to approach her too quickly - if you do, she may run away at first, but she usually comes back to the front right after her initial flinching. As she is such a sensitive little kitty, I still use a lot of TTouches with the back of my hand - the llama TTouch (using back surface of the whole hand) and chimp TTouches are especially soothing for her, and sometimes I will do a circular touch followed by a long stroke down the body. She is funny - sometimes it seems like she has had enough, but then if you start to close the cage, she will come running to the front for more :)

Vaska is such a character - he always gets himself into upside-down, funny positions in order to get my attention, as shown below. He will come bounding out of the cage and onto the couch, walking back and forth and rubbing against my hands. With him I also use llama ttouches, as he can get over-stimulated with too much contact. He purrs the entire time and will settle on my lap for a while.

Next, I let Diego (below) out of his cage. He is so friendly with me but seems like he is more of a solo cat - I think he is not so comfortable around the other cats. He sniffed me and seemed to be a bit irritated that I had let Vaska out first. He did settle down with me as I did some abalone ttouches on his body. He is such a dear, gentle cat and seems to have such a deep soul.
When I had finished working with him, he is now on an upper level cage so I had to lift him back in. He was not so happy about this and swatted at me (no claws out though). I felt really bad about this and so before I left, I went back to his cage, and did calming ttouches on his forehead, apologizing him for scaring him by lifting him and by having to put him back in his cage, and he really responded to this. He looked quite content after this.

Ty (below), who was growly with me the previous week, came jumping right out of his cage to me today. and I began to do some strokes with the back of my hand with him. Just as we were setting into a good session, someone from the Mayor's alliance came in, as he was to be taken to a new home. They were happy to see him so relaxed and, though they had thought he could be tough to get in the carrier, he actually walked right in as though he knew he was going to a good place. Good luck in your new home, Ty!

Oct 11 - a bunch of new cats had arrived. But as I always start with Irene as she is the first cat I see when I come through the door, I worked with her first. She was purring the whole time. I first did TTouch on her head with the back of my finger. I noticed that her little blanket was all a-jumble, so I flattened it out and she seemed very grateful. right away she settled on the blanket and began kneading with her paws. As she did this, I did circles and strokes down her body with the back of my hand, giving frequent breaks, so as not to overwhelm her.

Tiger (below) is a new kitty who is very sweet and gentle. I did raccoon TTouches on his head and slow abalone TTouches down his body. He is friendly, but I felt he craved the very comforting feeling of the big abalone ttouches (circular touches with the front surface of the whole hand).

Next was Oreo, who has been there for a while. She started out a little feisty and sometimes got over-stimulated, but especially since her cagemate Smoky was adopted, she seems to be more gentle. As she had done before, she put her paws up on my shoulders and came towards me, as though to give me a hug. While she had her paws there, I did clouded leopard TTouches on her body and llama TTouches on her body, sliding and connecting each touch to the next. She stayed in that position for a while and was very responsive and seemed very comforted by the TTouches.

Cheeks (below) is a very young kitty who is extremely inquisitive and couldn't wait for me to open to the cage to come out and explore. I did some TTouches along the sides of her body as she walked back and forth on the couch. I didn't want to overwhelm her with first contact so I just worked with her briefly, then put her back in the cage.
Bree is pictured below but I have to get a better picture of her! she was so relaxed when I finished with her that she was curled up in a ball, sleeping. She is a bit shy at first, but quickly responded to TTouches. I first used the back of my hand and fingers, doing circular ttouches on her head and body. She began purring a lot, and then started eating - something that a lot of cats do after having TTouch, which is particularly nice when I have been in a situation of working on a cat who is not eating, as it can prompt them to eat.

Below is Allie, another of the gorgeous new cats. I wasn't able to get to her today, but look forward to doing TTouch on her next time :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Cat Loft at BARC: Patches Settles in my Lap

Patches is one of the beautiful cats at BARC who I have had the opportunity to work with lately. She came to BARC from an abusive situation. Sometimes she can suddenly become very frightened. She is particularly frightened of other cats, but can usually only tolerate short amounts of attention, so one needs to really be patient with her.

I have been doing both TTouch and Reiki with her recently. Generally I will do TTouches on her head, then do some Reiki on her body, and when she is comfortable, do some TTouch on her body. She is more comfortable being touched on the head than on the body, so this approach gives her time to settle and get used to being gently touched on her body.

Recently she was put in a cage on the lower level, which enables people to sit in a chair right at the same level as her cage and if she is comfortable she can come out onto a person's lap, which she has done for several people, including me, lately. The other day, she did that for me the first time, and I realized that I needed to have her face her cage or the wall when she is on my lap so she will not be scared by seeing the other cats who are out loose.

So yesterday when she came onto my lap, I made sure that she was facing her cage once she came onto my lap, and I decided to offer her Reiki. She settled and absorbed Reiki more than ever before. She settled and spread out in my lap, draping her front legs over my knees. It was as though her entire being let out a gigantic SIGH. She was purring a beautiful silent vibrating PURRRRRR. There were no visitors at that particular time, which gave her more opportunity to really BREATHE and relax. Even a couple of the other cats who are loose in the space who usually come up to me when I have another cat on my lap were curled up taking a nap. It was so sweet to truly feel this cat relax - that she felt safe enough to do that with me. I moved my hands to several positions while she was there, but it felt that the optimum position for my hands was around her shoulder area (which is also the brachial chakra). Patches did not want to move, even after we had remained there for a very long time. I did a few TTouches on her, but it felt like she was so responsive to Reiki that I mostly continued Reiki with her.

Finally I gently lifted her back into her cage. Here she is (pic directly above, as well as top pic in this post) shortly afterwards. Her eyes are just so open and expressive. I feel that if a very patient, quiet person were to adopt her, she would do very well in a home with no other animals. She feels like she is so craving of that connection.

Thank you Patches for trusting me in these moments, and thanks to the others who come to BARC to help socialize these cats as well.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Cat Loft at BARC Shelter : Sept 25-Oct 1

There have been a lot of adoptions at BARC lately, and Chairman is one of the lucky kitties who recently went to a loving home - congrats to all!

Muffin and Mittens (Muffin above, both below and then following is pic of Mittens) are so sweet, it is really exciting to see them come around. Mittens is completely friendly and lays on his back when you touch him now. One of the days this week he actually startled himself (and me) and came right out of the cage. Unfortunately as I knew he would be hard to catch, I got him right back in.

Muffin is still a bit more hesitant but she is getting there little by little. The two main TTouches which she really responds to are raccoon ttouches around the outside of her mouth, going back to her jaw area. She starts laying on her back and purring almost immediately when I do this. She also really relaxes to connected abalone ttouches (circular ttouches which use the whole hand). Sometimes Mittens comes over while I'm working on Muffin, so I work on one kitty with each hand.

As I'm writing this blog post a little after the fact, I can tell you that over the weekend, Mittens was adopted. Muffin probably misses him but she seems to be adjusting and has been letting other people pet her more, so that is great.

Patches (above and below) still has to be approached very calmly and carefully, as she can have her moods, but she is getting a lot more comfortable with me. Generally I start out by doing little circles either with the back of my finger on te outside of her mouth area and little circles on her head area. Then I do a little reiki with my hands slightly above her back, until she gets really relaxed. Then she is usually ready to be touched on her back. It is wonderful to see her becoming more relaxed - sometimes it really looks like she is smiling at me! Below you see her all stretched out and relaxed.

Princess is a very challenging cat. Some days I am able to make contact with her, and other times she is just not in the mood. Most often, it seems to be good to start out by offering Reiki to her, as this can make her very relaxed and I can offer it to her from a couple of feet away.

One of the days I went, they had moved many of the cats, and she was hiding under her little bed. This was a great opportunity for me to try a different kind of contact with her. I did circles and strokes on her with the bed in between, so she would feel safer about me touching her. She was very responsive to this, and I could see her really relax.

Just to prove to me that you really need to meet the animal where they are each and every time, I tried this approach the next day and she was not in the mood at all - what she responded to that day was simply for me to offer her reiki from about a foot away. Other days I have been able to touch her directly, doing small circles on her forehead and other places on her head. She still is not comfortable with me directly touching her on her body. I need to continue to be patient to her, listen to her and see what she is ready for each time.
Looking forward to more adventures with these cats, and I have to always thank them for all that they teach me. And thanks to all the loving folks at BARC shelter who help to socialize these kitties as well, and who work so hard to get these dogs, cats and other critters loving homes.