Sunday, November 14, 2010

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.

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