Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TTouch and Reiki with Mayor's Alliance cats: Nov. 29

Last week, when I went to work with the Mayor's Alliance cats (thru Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program), there were a bunch of cats who had just arrived and had just been neutered, so most of them were very stressed out. When I arrived this week, nearly all of these cats were quite comfortable and at the front of their cages, ready for attention and love. This was wonderful to see!

Above is actually one of the cats who has been there for a while, Brie. She is generally the most vocal and seeking of attention, but she actually becomes calmer even if I start with another cat, as the calm energy from TTouch and Reiki spreads to all the cats in the room. I worked with her somewhere in the middle of the session, letting her out of the cage to run around a bit

Brie is very playful, if I do strokes down her back, she rolls over on her side to play, so I have to be careful because she can be over-stimulated in that position!

Charles had looked under the weather after his neutering surgery last week, but today he seemed to feel good, he was very active and very sweet. I tried clouded leopard TTouches and a couple of other TTouches and he was very comfortable.

Cheeks is always at the front of his cage for attention, and will respond to just about any kind of TTouch. I did ear strokes and then clouded leopard TTouches on his body.

Johnny is very friendly now, feeling much better since he arrived, when he was a bit traumatized, probably from just having his neutering surgery. As you can see, he waits at the front of the cage now ready to make contact. He rubbed his head against my hand as I did connected clouded leopard TTouches going down his body.

Max is very gentle and sweet, right at the front of his cage for attention. With him I did clouded leopard and zigzag TTouches.

Pattie seemed a little more comfortable today. He had been shaking last time, and this time I only notice a little shaking. He is extremely sensitive to loud noises. When I used the back of my finger to do TTouches on his forehead and did some raccoon TTouches on his mouth, she really settled. I spoke slftly to him and did some Reiki and some light clouded leopard TTouches on him, speaking in a very soft voice. He stretched out and really relaxed as I did this.

With Serena, who will hiss when you first open her cage, I used a long-handled paintbrush to do light circles and strokes, moving the skin around in a circle and a quarter with the brush. She feels very comfortable with this, and quickly started purring, drooling, and rubbing against me a bit. I worked in a few circular touches with my hand as she did this, then went back to using the brush.

Tiger is such a sweet cat, with a gentle, quiet energy. She responds most to the comforting Ttouches using more of the surface of the hand, such as the abalone Ttouch and the octopus TTouch. The octopus TTouch is one that you would only want to do on an animal who is extremely comfortable, as it can be way too overwhelming for a shy animal. It is sort of like a zigzag TTouch using both hands at the same time (will have to get a clip of that online).

TTouch and Reiki with Mr. Whiskers and Friends

Sorry it has taken me a while to get this post up, as usual, I'm juggling a lot of things!

Kathy is a friend and Feldenkrais teacher, and she has also been to several TTouch trainings with me. I have worked with her animals, including some feral cats and kittens, and it is always a pleasure and a learning experience.

Presently Kathy is residing with her mother and they have in their household four cats: Scooter and Cuddles, who have been in the household a long time, and Mrs. Patches (pictured below) and Mr. Whiskers (pictured above), who were feral cats she trapped and spayed/neutered (Mrs. Patches was trapped along with her three kittens, the kittens were socialized and adopted). Mr. Whiskers had been released after neutering but then brought back inside, as he appeared to be friendly and it would be safer for him to be inside. I did a lot of work with Mrs. Patches and her kids (some of the posts are here) when they were first brought in, and a little work with Mr. Whiskers when he was initially trapped. I had worked with him while he was in a carrier with the TTouch wand, and he was quickly responsive to that, calming down quite quickly with some light circular ttouches using the wand, sticking it through the bars of the carrier. Some cats are threatened by a sticklike object coming their way inside a contained space but Mr. Whiskers was surprisingly not.

Mr. Whiskers and Patches have been living in the upper part of the house, and are extremely bonded with each other. Scooter and Cuddles live in the lower part of the house. Kathy also has a wonderful dog Mia, who I have been acquainted with for a number of years - she is having some issues as a senior dog, but she is a sweetie!
Mr. Whiskers has been exhibiting some very strange behavior lately - getting very freaked out, with ripples on his skin and generally seeming ultra-sensitive. He was diagnosed with feline hyperesthesia syndrome. It can be allergy related or a sign of a more serious problem--organ issues or cancer. Kathy has posted about it with links on her blog http://catsofwesttenth.blogspot.com/ if you'd like to read more about it.
The vet has put him on prednisone to see if it will help the itching that he has. Kathy asked if I could come and try some Reiki and TTouch with Mr. Whiskers to see if it could be calming for him.
I hadn't seen Mr. Whiskers since he was first trapped, and he was rather shy initially. I tried to do a few circles on him using the feather end of a stick toy, and he initially ran away. He's very attached to Kathy, so while Kathy was petting him, I was able to do some TTouches on him using the back of my finger and the back of my hand on his head and body. I used back surfaces of my hand and fingers as they are less threatening and less stimulating than front surfaces. Mr. Whiskers is so ultra-sensitive that I wanted to be as gentle as possible with him. He is especially is sensitive about being touched on his back end and generally does not want to be touched there.
After this, I offered him Reiki. I found that I needed to be 6 inches to a foot away in order for him to feel comfortable, as the energy was too overwhelming for him if I was any closer. I connected with Reiki with him several short times, the longest being when I was about a foot away and he stayed very still, absorbing the energy as though absorbing warm sunlight.
I also connected with him for very short moments with TTouch, but the Reiki periods of time felt the most powerful with him, as though he wanted to soak up the energy, but could only do a little at a time.
After this, I briefly did a few strokes using the back of my hand with Mrs. Patches, but she was mostly in a mood to play. Then I did some TTouches on Mia and Cuddles. Kathy does a lot of TTouch on Mia, and Mia loves the TTouches, so she was very responsive as I did abalone TTouches, clouded leopard touches and some ear work. Cuddles I just did an extremely short bit of TTouches with. Scooter (pictured below) was not interested in being TTouched, though last year I connected with him very strongly. I respected his wishes and just quietly spoke to him for a short bit, sending him a bit of Reiki from a couple of feet away as I spoke to him.

When connection with the animals comes in small bursts like this, it is harder to get a sense of a feeling of the session as a whole, though I am actually getting a better sense of it now as I write about it! Anyway I left there knowing my intention was very focused but a bit unsure as to what had just happened there.
Later that night I was surprised (and happy) to hear that Mr. Whiskers had not had any episodes that evening, and that Scooter was very peaceful. Since the session, Mr. Whiskers had one bad episode (which Kathy thinks was related to something he ate), but she said, other than that incident, that there was a calming effect on all the animals in the household that lasted a week, maybe more. Kathy would like me to come and work with Mr. W again soon, so I'm looking very forward to doing that. Many thanks to Kathy and your sweet animals, for reminding me of how true the TTouch saying that it is "moments, not minutes" that matter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Jan

Jan is one of a bunch of cats who arrived at BARC recently after his owner passed away. He is a gorgeous boy with one blue eye and one green eye. When he first arrived, he was quite frozen in the back of his cage, and it took some coaxing to even get him to eat at first.

Now he is feeling much more comfortable and, though he still prefers to hang out in the back of his cage, he comes to the front for his food, water and treats, and after receiving TTouch for a bit, will start to come to the front as well.

I found that he, like another scaredy cat from the same household, Statler, holds a lot of tension in his lower back near the base of his tail. And, if I begin to do raccoon TTouches all around this area, it seems to be the key to unlock his whole feeling and way of being. After some TTouches in this area, he will start to roll over on his side or start rubbing his head against my hand or his cage, and he starts to come a bit forward to me. Another area which is starting to be a great area to TTouch is around the outside of his mouth, as well as doing some strokes underneath his chin. He is now responding to touch in this area in a similar way, rubbing his head against my hand, flopping over on his side sometimes.

He is a very endearing boy and it is such a pleasure to feel his personality emerging, the more he gets comfortable like this. Recently he has been a bit more comfortable with other volunteers and staff touching him as well. He has never made an aggressive move whatsoever, but would just be frightened, glued to the back of the cage, unresponsive to touch. but I think this is little by little starting to change. These frightened beings have so much to teach us about patience and compassion, and I thank you Jan for that.

A side note: I also have to give a little plug for Halo's Liv-a-Little chicken treats, and big thanks to my friend Cookie from the Homeless Cat Network in the SF Bay Area, who told me about these treats. These treats are simple, just freeze-dried chicken, and they have been so helpful in addition to TTouch and Reiki in breaking the ice with a lot of scaredy cats like my buddy Jan. You can find these treats in pet stores or even cheaper online.

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Siskel

Siskel is a young male cat who arrived recently at BARC shelter along with another cat thought to be his brother. The brother was extremely friendly and was adopted right away. Siskel arrived at the shelter completely terrified, hiding in the back of his cage and hissing when people came anywhere near his cage. I think it really scares him to have hands come in and out of his cage, as he seems to especially feel threatened when his cage is cleaned.

I have been working with him quite a lot, wearing thick gloves in case he gets over-stimulated, as sometimes in the beginning he would go from comfortable to suddenly terrified, and then could swat or try to bite. He has been getting SO much more comfortable lately, it is a pleasure to see.
I have been working with him primarily using a long-handled plastic back scratcher, doing circular touches and strokes on him with the back of the hand of the back scratcher, as well as with the handle. Once he got accustomed to this tool, he quickly grew to really like it, starting to roll on his back or side to be stroked with it. I have now started incorporating some touches and strokes with my gloved hand as well as with the tool. I am trying to be careful to keep the sessions fairly short, so he doesn't have the chance to get over-stimulated. I have shown a few people how to work with him with the back scratcher, so he can get used to other people having contact with him.
He was initially in the back of the room, but is now in a cage next to gentle, sweet Camilla, who I think is a reassuring, calm influence for him. He often rubs himself against the side of the cage which is next to her, and has never hissed or done any unfriendly behavior towards her. When I do TTouch and Reiki with Camilla, he watches and seems to be very calmed by this work as well.
He seems more comfortable in the shelter in general, now hanging out in the front of his cage a good deal of the time, watching what is going on. And if I am working on another cat, he looks at me as if to say, when are you coming to visit me?? I know that many people who saw his initial behavior would brand him as a "bad cat" (which I always take to mean one that is not capable of change) but I am so happy to continue to work with him to show that he is not a "bad" or "mean" cat, but is a very scared cat who needs time and patience in order to build trust :)

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Camilla

Camilla is one of the sweet cats at BARC who recently arrived in the shelter after their owner passed away. Camilla has had ongoing digestive issues, so I have been working with her quite a lot, offering Reiki and TTouch to her to help her system to be as balanced as it can be.

She has been receiving medication, and I was so happy to see last week that she really seems to be starting to feel better. Previously, I had often seen her hunched in her litter box, trying to pass a stool, and even when she was out of the litter box she was often in the hunched position of a cat who doesn't feel well. When I work on her, I can always feel her spine relaxing and stretching out. Now that it seems the medication is kicking in, it is such a pleasure to see her body mostly in a much more relaxed state, and her face looks more relaxed as well.

She now comes right to the front of the cage to greet me when I open the door, often stepping onto my lap to give me a kiss. The amount of love and gratitude flowing from her really is so touching. It is evident in her expression even in these snapshots.

I am continuing to do Reiki with her as well as the TTouch. When she was not feeling so well, she fairly quickly settled into my hands for Reiki. Now she seems to want me to move my hands more, so I have Reiki flowing from my hands as I do circular TTouches down her body, as well as some zigzag touches and belly lifts. Camilla is an extremely petite kitty, really the size of an average 5-6 month old cat, and she is very delicate. so when I do a belly lift with her, I hardly move my hand at all. I put my hand on her belly and just "think" of moving my hand up, barely moving, then think of releasing it back down.

Below, you see Camilla in a towel. This was a picture I took before she started really feeling better. She seemed to crave warmth so much that I really felt bad when I took my hands away from her after doing Reiki with her (my hands get very warm when offering Reiki energy), so I gave her a towel for some extra warmth.

After doing combined TTouch and Reiki with Camilla, she usually settles into a resting position, putting her body so that my hands will be resting where she wants them to be, then I offer Reiki to her from that position. Sometimes I keep my hands in one position if she remains still. If she shifts while I am there, I go with where she is showing me she wants my hands to be. Much love to this little kitty and I'm so glad she's starting to feel better.

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Dr. Teeth

Dr. Teeth is a beautiful grey and white cat who arrived a few weeks ago at BARC Shelter after her owner passed away. I believe she was given her name because she has very few teeth (you can see her tongue sticking out sometimes, probably because there are not teeth to keep it in her mouth). She is extremely shy. When you approach her, she still hisses and will swat towards you, but I have never had her actually swat me. I don't believe she is aggressive, just frightened.

When I began working with her, I used a long-handled plastic back scratcher, using the back of the hand of the scratcher to do circles and strokes on her back. In the beginning I could only do a few strokes or touches, and then would back off, always facing sideways to the cage, and would wait to see her breathe and calm down, speaking in a quiet, calm voice to her. After some days of doing this, she started to settle as I did the touches on her with the back scratcher. It is very important to orient your body sideways to the cage, especially with a frightened animal, as this is a much less threatening body posture.

I then wanted to try a tool with a shorter handle, so began to use a flat long-handled paintbrush, sometimes doing the circles and strokes with the tip of the brush, sometimes with the flat part of the brush. She responded to this tool well, and though she still would start out with a hiss, once I touched her with the brush, she settled, tucking her front paws underneath her body, blinking and licking her lips.

Each day I worked with her, I tried to just push her a teeny bit past her comfort level to get her used to a bit more contact. Little by little I started working in a few touches and strokes on the head, then would go back to her body, as she is frightened of being touched on her head. I then changed tools to a back scratcher with a shorter handle and what looks like a small plastic hand at the end of it, using the back of the hand to touch her. She responded to this new tool as though she found it possibly more relaxing than the brush.

Then, a couple of days ago, I decided to take the plunge. I worked my hand slowly down the back scratcher handle, with my hand behind her head, and began to do some circular touches on her body with the back of one finger. I was afraid she would be startled at this different, warmer and more flexible surface, but she settled right in. And I was able to start incorporating some little circles, sometimes with the back of my finger and sometimes with the front, on the back of her head and neck area, and she started to actually relax into this. I sometimes went back to touching her with the back scratcher, doing gentle strokes, and she really stretched her back out.

It is such a pleasure to see this sweet cat start to be more relaxed, and to be more comfortable being touched. When she first came into the shelter she was always in the back of the cage. Now she often is in the front of the cage, very interested and engaged in what is going on. And though she is still initially frightened when you approach her, I believe that with more time, she will begin to be more trusting and less frightened on initial approach as well. I can't wait to work with her again.

Mayor's Alliance Rescue Cats: Serena

Serena is one of the Mayor's Alliance rescue cats who I am working with through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program. She is still quite shy but is getting gradually more comfortable with contact. Today, I again worked with her using a long-handled flat paintbrush. You can see how I worked with her using gentle circles and strokes with the brush in the clip above. Please keep in mind that the strokes and circles are quite light. The circles do not push heavily into the body, they simply move the skin around in a circle, as you would if you were doing TTouches directly with your hands. Serena still often hisses or makes sounds when you first open the cage, but speaking to her quietly and doing this gentle work soon reassures her and you can see her pushing her body and head into the brush for more contact. I probably could have started to touch her directly with my hand but I felt I shouldn't push the issue, as she seemed so comfortable with the brush. As you can see, she comes right to the front of the cage, which is very different for her. She also became so comfortable that she began purring and even drooling.

I look forward to working with her further and to seeing what can happen.

TTouch and Reiki with Mayor's Alliance Rescue Cats: Nov. 22

When I entered the boarding facility where I work on the Mayor's Alliance cats through Tavi & Friends' TTouch in Rescue program, there were a lot of new cats today, and most of them had the little plastic cones on them as you see above, as they had just recently been neutered. Most of these new kitties also seemed to be traumatized and wondering where they were. With these new cats I wanted to be extremely gentle in handling them due to their recent surgery, and also wanted to be as calming a presence as possible. So I primarily offered Reiki to these new cats, one by one, also doing some very light abalone TTouches on them, gently holding them and reassuring them that they were now in a safe place where they will be taken care of. They all responded quite well to this, and I could feel their energy shift. The television had been left on a high volume in the room and so I lowered the volume til the voices sounded like they were speaking very softly, and this helped the room to feel more calm as well.

I also did ear strokes on the cats who felt like this was ok to do this with. Most of the cats relaxed right into my hands. Above is Annie (apparently a boy), and below is Charles. Charles started out with a lone hiss, and looked as though he just didn't feel good, with a grumpy, "I feel lousy" expression, but shortly after I began Reiki with him, he really stretched out and relaxed his body into my hands, purring. It was such a pleasure to hear and feel him release some of his stress. I spoke softly to each cat, reassuring them and telling them that they were safe, and that they would be taken care of.

Below is Johnny. He was quite ready for attention from the very beginning and began to purr right away. But I did feel I wanted to be gentle in handling him anyway, and felt the Reiki energy flow into his body as he soaked it up, purring. I did some light zigzag TTouches and abalone ttouches on him. There were also a few other new ones who I don't have pics of - Philip, Stephanie and Max.

The only new kitty who was having more trouble is Pattie (below, also a boy). The poor guy was still so traumatized that I could feel him intermittently shaking, even though I could tell his body was calmer than it had been when I initially began to touch him. I asked the people at the facility to make sure there wasn't something else going on with him that I was unaware of, but apparently he was just frightened. I did Reiki and some gentle clouded leopard touches and abalone touches, and after a while he did begin to relax his body more and the shaking began to subside. His cone had been removed, probably to help him more easily relax.

Cheeks (below) was ready for attention as usual, vocalizing to let me know and make sure I didn't forget him. I did ear strokes, zigzag TTouches and clouded leopard touches on his body. He really responded to these and put his front paws on my shoulders, bringing his face to my face for a kiss.

Tiger also had reappeared, perhaps she had simply been in a foster home. She is a sweet, relaxed cat. I let her out of her cage to let her stretch her legs and then she settled down for some ear strokes and abalone TTouches. She seems to really enjoy the warmth and soothingness of the big abalone TTouches. I did them very slowly on her, but with a firmer pressure than I used on the new cats. I used an extremely light touch when I did abalone ttouches on the new, frightened cats.
Serena you will read about in a seperate post, where you will see a video of me working with her.
Sending good thoughts to all these cats as I write this, especially to the more frightened ones. I look forward to seeing them next week.

Mayor's Alliance Cats: Nov. 15

Today when I went to work on the Mayor's Alliance cats thru Tavi & Friends' TTouch in Rescue program, most of the cats were gone, meaning they have been adopted or are being fostered, which is great news. So the ones there were there got some extra attention :)

Olivia (above) is a lovely young grey tabby. When I took her out of the cage, she was so happy to be out that she was more interested in running around than chilling out for some Ttouch, but I did get in some soothing abalone TTouches on her (circular touches using the whole hand). She is an extremely friendly, social cat and was rubbing against my hand.

Cheeks (above) is also young and peppy. He really responds to the TTouches though and rubbed himself right into my hand as worked with him. For him, I did mostly abalone TTouches and clouded leopard touches down his body, as well as ear slides.

Bree (pictured above), was also quite restless and so when I let her out of her cage I gave her some time to let off steam before I began to touch her. She can tend to get over-stimulated easily, so I find that touches with the back of my hand are less stimulating and more calming. I mostly did llama ttouches with her (circular TTouches using the back of my whole hand), as well as Noah's March (straight strokes down the whole body). These did seem to calm her energy somewhat.
In addition to these cats was Serena, a cat who is pretty frightened of people, but slowly getting less so. I will speak about her in a separate post.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TTouch Demo with Maltese Meetup Group

Hi folks, I had the wonderful experience on Sunday of sharing TTouch with the members of a Maltese meetup group (oh yeah, there was also a Bichon who managed to sneak in as well). It was a lovely group of dogs and people, as you can see from the pictures. Many of the dogs were festively dressed and everyone got on well together.

As people were arriving, I introduced myself to some of the dogs and people, and did a few TTouches on some of the dogs. One was an older dog, with quite long fur. I showed the owner how to do hair slides, as well as a few other TTouches. The owner had had some exposure to TTouch so has been using some of the touches on her dog. This dog has arthritis, and TTouch can be very beneficial for dogs with this condition.

I shared about some of the touches, strokes and lifts used in TTouch, as well as about leash configurations, TTouch wraps and the use of a Thundershirt. Mr. Prince, who you see me with above, acted as one of my demo dogs. He is quite high-strung, and generally a pretty shy guy. His owner, Mary, started bringing him to the meetups as this was a friendly, non-threatening atmosphere in order for him to meet new dogs and become comfortable socializing with them. He generally not fond of being far from his owner so he was a little hesitant at first but as I worked on him, I felt his stress level start to come down and I felt his body start to relax against mine as he sat down next to me. I did clouded leopard touches, ear strokes, a little mouth work, and belly lifts on him. What a brave little guy. His owner sat near to where we were so that he would feel more secure. I really did feel an energy shift with him and felt his stress level drop down as we worked. I think these touches will all be very helpful for him, and the belly lift will be helpful for his stress issues as well as digestive issues, as the belly lifts help digestion as well as opening up the breath. I think use of a Thundershirt or wrap on him would be helpful as well in lowering his stress level and giving him more self-confidence.
Chaka, pictured above, belongs to Yumi, who organizes the meetup and is the one who asked me to speak. I worked with Chaka for a short time as well. She appears to be very relaxed around other dogs but her energy level in general is extremely high, as is common for these little dogs, and I felt her really relax into the touches and within just a few minutes felt her energy level shift. It is interesting how short a time it really can take to feel a change.
Above you will see all of us who were there Sunday, what a sweet group. Thanks so much for asking me to speak to you all!

Monday, November 15, 2010

TTouch with the Mayor's Alliance Cats: Serena

Serena is a recent arrival at the boarding facility where there are a number of Mayor's Alliance rescue cats. I do TTouch on these cats through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program.

Serena is still extremely frightened, and still will hiss when I first open the cage, but if I work very quietly with her, using the long-handled paintbrush you see here, she calms down and will start rubbing herself against the brush, becoming quite comfortable. She got a little more nervous with the camera on, but when I stopped the camera and began to work on her without the camera on, she became even more at ease, rubbing her face and body against the brush, leaning into the brush, and she even began to purrrrrrrr, which was such a pleasure to hear.

I gave her several breaks and tried this again with her several times, so by later in the session she was less apt to hiss when I opened the cage. Eventually when she is more at ease, I will inch my hand down the handle and eventually touch her with my hand, but I didn't want to push the issue. I look forward to working with her more!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Statler

Statler is one of the dear cats who arrived recently at BARC shelter in Brooklyn after their owner passed away. He is a very gentle, sweet cat but quite shy. Little by little he has been coming out of his shell though. He still hangs out at the back of his cage but now he is actually getting up and starting to move towards the front of the cage when I do TTouch on him.

A couple of the key places that he especially responds to are mouth work (doing little raccoon touches and slides on the outside of his mouth, going all the way back to the jaw) and doing ttouches on the back half of his body, including doing light little raccoon ttouches down his tail. The belly lifts are also very effective for him and usually result in him turning on his side and exposing his belly to me. He also is increasingly responding to ear slides, which he was not so sure about at first, probably because he had a minor ear issue (ear mites, I think) when he first arrived at the shelter.

It is important to stress that a belly lift is such a subtle movement that you hardly see it. With your whole hand, gently lift the belly in an upward motion, then very slowly release. Just a few times of doing this can really open up the breath and relax the digestive system as well.

Also, with the tail work, the pressure is SOOO light, just barely pushing the skin around in a circle as you work your way down the tail, connecting one raccoon touch to the next. As for the touches around the back half of the body, I was doing abalone ttouches (circular ttouches using the whole hand) and clouded leopard touches, as well as doing zigzag touches from the front part of his body to the back, going down his hindquarters too, and from one side of his body to the other. The zigzags really help connect one part of the body to the other.

Now, when I start to do TTouch on Statler, he almost immediately recognizes it as something that will make him feel good, and he is starting to rub his face and body against my hand, walking towards the front of his cage. It is so sweet to see him becoming more confident and more comfortable.

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Siskel

Siskel is a new cat at BARC shelter in Brooklyn who arrived in the same box with another boy kitty. The other kitty, Ebert, was adopted soon after arrival, as he was extremely friendly, but Siskel is extremely frightened, and it will take him a while to become comfortable and properly socialized.
The first time I worked with Siskel, he hissed right away to warn me to approach with caution. I used a long plastic back scratcher to first make contact with him. This first time, he seemed to be SO sensitive that even just gently touching him with the back scratcher was a lot, so I just did a few gentle circles and strokes on him and then left him alone.
The next time I worked with Siskel, a few days later, again I used the back scratcher, but had a completely different reaction. Before I touched Siskel at all, I had been sending Reiki from a short distance to him and to a chicken who is in a cage near where he is. They both appeared to be comforted by the Reiki energy that I felt pouring out of my hands. The chicken had been walking back and forth and she settled down, and he started blinking at me and became much more relaxed in his breathing and body posture. I gave them a brief break, then came back to work with Siskel using the back scratcher.
The minute I touched him with the back scratcher (with the back of the hand on the end of the back scratcher), Siskel sniffed it and started rubbing his head and body against it. I continued doing circles and strokes on his body and on his head, using pretty light pressure, and he kept moving forward to the front of the cage. Before I knew it, I was doing TTouch circular touches and strokes with my hand instead of the back scratcher. A couple of times, when he heard a noise of some kind that bothered him, he retreated to the back of his cage, but then he came to the front again. I should have stopped right there, but thought, just a little bit longer. Suddenly he got over-stimulated and gave me a quick bite on the hand (nothing bad, but it did startle me).
I realized I had worked too long with him, so I kind of took a step back and have just been working on him using the back scratcher the past few times (also wearing gardening gloves in case he gets overstimulated again). He now quickly responds to the back scratcher and starts rubbing his head and body against it, rolling on his side and on his back. He still will hiss when I open the cage sometimes, but this pattern is slowly starting to change. I want to show some of the other folks there how to work with him with the back scratcher, as I think it would be very good for him to get used to contact with a few people, so he can start to trust that people will not harm him. I feel that someone must have treated him roughly in the past or at least frightened him. I look forward to seeing what can happen with him, and thank him for reminding me to be mindful that it is "moments, not minutes" that matter. Patience is always a good thing to remember.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Dr. Teeth

Dr. Teeth is a very shy girl kitty who arrived recently at BARC after her owner had passed away. She still does not want to be touched directly by hand, but I am making slow, steady progress with her, and now she doesn't seem so frightened every time her cage is opened, so that is great!

I've been using a plastic back scratcher to make contact with her. Different cats like different types of surfaces, and both she and another scared cat, Siskel, seem to like the smoothness of the plastic. I touch her with the back of the hand on the end of the back scratcher. For people not familiar with TTouch, it is a very light touch that is used with this tool, with the idea of moving the skin around in a circle or making a very light stroke with the tool, using it as though it were an extension of your hand.

Dr. Teeth is still nervous even being touched with the back scratcher, so I do a few circles and strokes on her body, then take the tool away, talk to her in a calming voice, and wait for her to settle with her posture and breathing, then try again for a short time. She still is not comfortable being touched on her head, but is getting more comfortable being touched with the tool on her body, and sometimes she will actually settle into the touches. I leave a few treats in her cage as well. She won't eat them when I work on her but she will eat them afterwards. Below you see a picture of her after TTouch, looking pretty relaxed!

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Camilla

Sweet Camilla is a dear little angel of a cat who recently arrived at BARC shelter after her owner passed away. She has had chronic diarrhea (the vet thinks this is a result of her having Irritable Bowel Disease), so she has been receiving medication and a special diet to help remedy this. I have also been doing TTouch and Reiki with her for long periods of time to help promote balance and well-being in her body, as the ongoing diarrhea can make her appear quite uncomfortable at times.
This past Saturday, when I arrived I was very pleased to see that for the first time since she arrived, she had done some solid poops, hooray! I know this is too much information for some, but for those who have had cats with this problem, you know what a relief it can be to see this.
When I opened her cage, she was right at the front door of the cage to say hello. I put my fleece jacket on my lap in case she felt like coming out to settle there. She walked out on my lap briefly, then went back inside her cage, where she felt more at ease. I did some gentle TTouches on her, and soon felt Reiki energy flowing from my hands. As animals often do, eventually Camilla went around in a circle and settled into my hands, putting the part of her body against my hands which she felt needed the healing energy. She had her back end nestled into my hands and was curled up into a cozy ball. I felt like my hands were merging with her body at times, feeling light and breath expanding the whole back half of her body. At the very base of her tail was very hot. I felt Relki energy flowing and pulsing into her body.
We stayed like this for a very long time, and she seemed profoundly relaxed, probably the most relaxed I had ever seen her. And I had never felt this breath and expansion and light with her in her back end. It was really lovely to feel and see. At one point she looked up at me and gave me a little tiny lick on my face.
When we finished, I gave her a little kiss on her ear and she settled back into a nap.
I will be so interested to see how this kitty is after the weekend (BARC is closed Sun and Monday). As I am writing this, I feel so much love for this cat pouring from my heart.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

TTouch and Reiki at BARC: Statler

Statler is one of the sweet cats at BARC who arrived after their owner passed away.

Statler is still quite shy and will stay in the back of his cage, though he is fine with you touching him if you reach back there. I have been working with him slowly and gently to try to help him feel more at ease.
When a cat is very afraid, one area that will be tight is their tail. So one of the types of touches I've been doing with him is the tail TTouch. It is done with very gentle pressure. I have been doing little raccoon ttouches starting at the base of his tail and working down his tail, which is usually curved around him. Usually after doing this, he will reposition himself, whiich is good, so he doesn't get stuck in one part of the cage.

Another touch that he particularly responds to is the belly lift. This is an extremely subtle TTouch lift - you put your hand underneath the belly, gently lift upwards - this is a very small motion, hardly even visible - hold there briefly, then very slowly release down. This can be a great thing tto do on animals who are fearful and/or who have digestive issues. It releases the body so that it can breathe more fully and releases the belly as well. I only do this a couple of times, and it is very effective. Again, it is important to stress that you are not trying to squish the stomach by making a big motion, just the very subtlest of motions and movements.

After doing the belly lifts, Statler generally will stretch out his body completely or even lie on his side, which is so lovely to see.

I have been doing a lot of mouth work on him as well, in which I combine circles and strokes along the outside of his mouth. He finds this to be extremely soothing and it will often prompt him to start rubbing his head against my hand. He is also exremely receptive to ear strokes, which stimulate the immune system.

When I was last at the shelter, Statler was still hanging out in the back of his cage but he is definitely less frozen there, and is more responsive to touch than he was in the beginning. For him, these have been big steps. This cat has the look of an old, wise soul, he really touches my heart when our eyes connect. I always feel he is thanking me for taking the time to be in the moment with him.
It's been a few days since I've been able to go to the shelter, can't wait to see Statler and the other sweet cats at BARC soon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TTouch at BARC: update on Kermit

Hi folks, just a bit of an update on Kermit, the sweet senior kitty who arrived after his owner passed away a couple of weeks ago. When he first arrived at the shelter, he was matted, terrified and hiding under his bed at the back of his cage. After I gave him a lot of TTouch, we gave him a bath, a bunch of combing-out sessions, and me and the other wonderful people at BARC gave him a lot of love, he is now one of the most sociable cats in the shelter right now. He will come right to the front of the cage for attention and when you open the door to the cage, he comes right out onto your lap to be petted, brushed, TTouched etc:)
To see him go from such a terrified kitty to such a comfortable, confident kitty in such a short time is such a sweet thing to see. All of the positive work has helped him to be at ease and to let out the dear and very special personality that he is. We all love him at the shelter and wish for him and all the other dear animals there to soon be in loving homes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mayors' Alliance Cats: Oct 25 and Nov. 1

This blog post covers my past two sessions with the Mayor's Alliance Rescue cats who I work on through Tavi and Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program.
Above is Oreo. When she first arrived at the boarding facility, she tended to get a bit over-stimulated, but after a lot TTouch and socialization by me and others who come to work with them, she has become more relaxed. Oct 25 she was really ready for attention when I opened her cage, and as she has done other times, put her paws on my two shoulders. This time she came up and kissed me right on the face. I did TTouch on her in that position, which sounds a bit funny but she was comfortable in the moment there. I did chimp TTouches and strokes down her back, as well as ear slides. What a sweetie! The following week, I saw that she was no longer there. While of course I will miss her, I am so glad that she has gone to either a foster or forever home, hooray.

Tiger is a sweet, gentle cat who initially can get a little frozen when he first comes out of his cage. On Oct. 25, he at first clung to the rug when he was first out of his cage, but he soon settled down and stretched out after I did some connected clouded leopard TTouches and abalone TTouches going down his body. The second day, he seemed to want to stay on his bed in the cage, so I did TTouch on him there. He seems to especially respond to circular TTouches which use more of the hand, like the abalone TTouch, as this can be especially warm and soothing.

This beautiful cat above, Serena, arrived sometime in between the two sessions, so I saw in the second session. She was very afraid, so I did not touch her directly with my hands. When I opened the cage, she hissed. so I very quietly did some circles and strokes on her body with long-handled paintbrushes for a short time. After giving her a break, I tried again, but that was enough for her. When I left her cage, though, she seemed like she had calmed down somewhat because she was no longer in a frozen position - she went on the upper level of her cage and began to eat vigorously.

Olivia is a new grey tabby who arrived shortly before the Nov 1 session. She is gentle and affectionate, and wanted to come out of her cage. I did clouded leopard and abalone touches on her body, ear strokes and mouth work, and she was very friendly and responsive to all of these.

Above is Bree. She has a sense of humor and is kind of a character. She gets extremely excited to jump out of the cage and run around, so I let her do this before trying to touch her. She is very affectionate but can get overstimulated easily, so with her I do TTouches, usually chimp ttouches and llama ttouches which use the back of my hand, and for a short time and then I give her a break.

Millie was right in front of her cage to greet me for the Oct 25 session. She especially responds to TTouches on her head, and she rubbed her face against my face as I did ttouches on her head and ear area. She was a little more hesitant being touches on the body, but slowly getting used to it as I did a stroke on her here and there.
In the second session she came out of her cage and was very responsive to ttouches both on her head an on her body. She was head-butting me often at first and very excited. After a bit, her paced relaxed and she stretched right out on the rug for some abalone ttouches and clouded ttouches. she is such an alert, interesting cat!

Cheeks is a real character and is always up for attention and for coming out of her cage, but is afraid of other cats, so sometimes she seems to get a bit nervous when she sees the other cats, so of course this is a bit of a tricky wicket! She is extremely friendly to people though and put her paws on my shoulders to come up to my face for a kiss!. I did ttouches with the back of my hand mostly with her, to try to calm her energy a bit.

Martini and Mimosa (below) are sweet, playful youngsters. Uusaly they are much more interested in coming out of their cage to tear around the space and be kittens. but once they wear themselves out a bit, they can be picked up for a little TTouch (especially the one with the most white on its face, not sure which is which!!). They purr the entire time that you hold them. I do little raccoon ttouches on their mouths, very gentle ear strokes, and chimp ttouches boinb down their bodies down to their tails.