Monday, February 28, 2011

TTouch and Reiki with the Mayor's Alliance Cats: Feb. 28, 2011

Today there weren't too many cats at the boarding facility when I went to work with the Mayor's Alliance cats through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program, so I was able to spend a little more time with each cat, which is always a pleasure.

Brie is a very playful cat who is not usually too receptive to a lot of touch. She would generally rather play than cuddle when she has a chance to get out of her cage for a while. I usually let her out and take the cue from her as to what she is in the mood for. If I sit near her and wait for her to come to me, she usually comes up and starts to rub her head against me. When she did this, I did a few slow raccoon TTouches on her forehead, which she found to be calming. With her, I just do a very little bit of TTouch, give her a break, then a little more, as she can get easily over-stimulated.

The other thing I did with her this time was to offer her Reiki from a short distance away. She was very responsive to this, and I saw her eyes close and relax. This was really a pleasure to see.

Kobie is an extremely playful and friendly cat. He was a bit standoffish when I first met him a few weeks ago, and still sometimes will initially move away if I move towards him too quickly, but now once I touch him he is very receptive, purring, licking, nuzzling against me. I did clouded leopard TTouches and abalone TTouches at a slow speed, and then some gentle ear strokes. After working with him a bit, I felt his energy become more relaxed and focused, and he laid on his side purring as I did this.

Mack is extremely sweet. He waits at the front of the cage to be let out, then will come up next to me, walking back and forth, rubbing against me. I did connected clouded leopard TTouches and abalone TTouches down either side of his back, then some ear strokes. After that I offered him Reiki, focusing on his base chakra (energy center), which is right around the base of the tail. Reiki helped to calm his energy a great deal. I will have to try this again with him.

Nene is also a love. He has a very gentle, sweet energy. He seems to respond best to abalone TTouches (circular TTouches which use the whole hand). The TTouches which use a larger surface of your hand like this can be especially comforting. I also did ear TTouches on him.

Tango is quite sweet. His walking has been a bit awkward since the beginning. Apparently it is thought to possibly be a neurological issue. He can get around fine, but doesn't use his legs quite properly. He swings his hips from side to side and the legs come along, they don't bend and flex completely.

I did connected clouded leopard TTouches all down his back and his legs in order to increase awareness from front to back. Then I decided to try a TTouch body wrap with him. We generally use ace bandages for the body wraps, but for cats and smaller animals, sometimes we use other stretchy, narrower things. Today I used a 2 inch bandage. If you are going to attempt to do this on a cat, please do it in small steps, which I did with this cat, even though he is a friendly cat. If it is too much for the cat to handle even in small steps, back off and try some of the TTouches instead.

To help get Tango used to the wrap, I just placed it across his back (folded up so it was about 6 inches long folded up) a few times, letting him get used to the sensation. Another option would be to offer a treat to the cat using the wrap as a dinner plate. Then I put it partially on him, took it off, and repeated this a few times. Finally I put it all the way on (see picture below). This is a half-wrap. It goes across the chest, crosses over the back, crosses over the stomach, then ties off to the side of the spine (so as not to put pressure on the spine). It hugs the body gently, it is not meant to be tight. The purpose is to be calming, to increase body awareness, to bring a frightened animal back into its body.

Tango's first reaction to the wrap seemed to be a bit of a surprised reaction, like this was something really new. You can see the look on the photo below, that seems to say "What am I supposed to do now?". He got up, took a few steps, then decided to stretch out on his side, where I did some TTouch on him. He repeated this a few times, seeming to be a bit confused by the new sensation, walking a few steps, then stretching out on his side. I then took the wrap off of him. It is best to just leave a wrap on a cat a short time, just enough to give them a different sensation, so that you take it off of them before they try to take it off themselves and get hung up in it. Never leave a wrap on a cat or any other animal unattended.
When he started walking again without the wrap, I did notice just a little more focus and attention to what he was doing when he was walking, which was interesting to see.
A bit later I tried to see if I could put the wrap on again, but he had enough for the day so I didn't push it. It is always good to remember with TTouch that most often, less is more....
Following is a link to a demonstration of how to do the half-wrap. Please note that leaving a wrap on a dog for 15 minutes is ok, but on a cat, a couple of minutes or less is good, especially for the first time. I would not leave it on a cat for 15 minutes.
A thank you to all these beautiful cats, and I look forward to seeing them soon.

Sophia Remembers......

The beautiful kitty pictured above is a very special being who arrived at the shelter where I was working over a year ago as a terrified, apparently feral kitten. Initially she was hissing, spitting, swatting, and seemed so terrified and unhappy to be there.

I spent a lot of time with her, working very slowly and gradually with her and she eventually became very comfortable with me, running to the front of the cage when I entered the shelter and extending her paw to say hello. I called her Jimmygirl.

Her best buddy in the shelter was a black kitten who we called Luke, who was semi-feral and shy at first but became comfortable very quickly. They adored each other and cuddled together. I think that Luke's calm demeanor was soothing for Jimmygirl.

Eventually Jimmygirl and Luke were adopted together into a very loving home. Jimmygirl was renamed Sophia, and Luke was renamed Poe, lovely names which suit them both so well. Their "mommy" Yasmeen has kept in touch with me, sending me pictures and updates about them. You can see how happy they are in their forever home, and it means a lot to hear about them.

TTouch and Reiki can help connect with animals in such a deep way that even when the animals in the shelter go off to homes, I still feel that connection, that they will always live in a special place in my heart.

Yesterday Yasmeen sent me the following message:

"How are you? I don't know if my sister mentioned to you the other day, but Sophie seems to remember you. The other day she was looking at your blog and found some old videos of you working on Sophia. Well she had the volume way up and Sophie was across the room napping at the time. She heard your voice talking to her gently and as soon as she heard you call her Jimmygirl she instantly popped up giving a few meows and looking around the room for you. It was the cutest thing! She kept walking and sniffing around the laptop trying to find you.

Goes to show cats do have a long memory and that they do appreciate the loving humans in their lives.

Anyways, Just wanted to let you know that Sophie does remember you and does miss you.

Have a great day!"

Thank you so much for sharing this with me, Yasmeen, it means so much to me -- and what Sophia did says so much about how animals do remember, it really touched my heart.

And thank you for adopting these two cats together and giving them such a wonderful home.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TTouch and Reiki at BARC Shelter: Taking it Slow and Easy with Walter

Walter is a young little tabby who recently arrived at BARC shelter. He will come to the front of the cage and vocalizes as though he wants attention, but seems unsure at the same time. I proceeded very gradually with him. You can see from the picture above that he is quite timid.

Before he was checked in and brought into the main cat room, I saw that he looked frightened, so I stood with my body sideways to his cage and offered him Reiki from outside his cage. Immediately I saw his body relax and his eyes closed in a restful position. So I felt as though I had already established a bit of connection with him after he was checked in by the vets and was placed in a cage in the cat adoption room.

I quietly spoke to him, and he came to the front of his cage. He rubbed his head against my hand, so I did a few circular TTouches curling my hand and using the back of my fingers (chimp TTouch), followed by a few straight strokes going down his back with the back of my hand. After this I closed his cage to give him a break.

Especially when I am first working with a frightened cat, it is most helpful and effective to work a little bit, close the cage and give them a break (I can work on another cat or cats in the meantime), then come back in a little while to work with them again. Yesterday I probably did four or five very short little sessions altogether (I have summarized what I did here).

He felt as though he was ultra-sensitive, so I decided to do some TTouches on him with a big, soft makeup brush that I had. This also gave me a little distance between me and him to make him feel safer and to make me safer if he became unsure and wanted to swat, etc.

I started out by doing little circular TTouches with the brush on top of his head and at the base of his ears, stroking out along his ears. He relaxed with this and began to close his eyes, very sweet. I paused and took the brush away from time to time to give him breaks. I started to work in strokes with the brush down his back as well, which he responded to.

After this I closed his cage and gave him a break. His response was interesting, when I would leave him alone, often he complained as though he wanted more, then would settle down a bit until I came near his cage, then he would call to me to come to him again.

The next time I opened his cage, again he was in the front of his cage to greet me. I had worked on several other cats in the in-between time, one of them being the cat next door to him, Camilla, who always comes out to curl up on my lap. What he did next seemed like she may have inspired him or given him courage.

This time I opened the cage door, and he gingerly put one front paw on my knee, took it away, then the other paw, the slowly crawled out onto my lap to settle there. I put my hands on his brachial or "key" chakra (actually two energy portals, one on each side in the shoulder area) and offered him Reiki energy, trying to keep my energy flow from being too intense for him. He calmed right down and settled into my lap. I didn't keep my hands there too long, not wanting to overwhelm him. But I did feel my hands magnetized to his shoulders when they were resting there, the energy pulsing into the chakras. I also did a little TTouch on him there. He settled there for a few minutes, then suddenly meowed loud like he had had enough. He did a hiss as well, but no swatting or biting. At this point I tipped my legs towards his cage, and he went back in there to rest.

A little later, as he was meowing to me again, I offered him Reiki outside of his cage, and he got quite relaxed, as you see here.

Thank you Walter, I look forward to working with you again soon and will keep on taking it slow and easy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

TTouch with the Mayor's Alliance Rescue Cats: Feb. 21

Laura is a new rescue kitty at the boarding facility where I do TTouch with cats from the Mayor's Alliance. She is very sweet, though she seems a bit leery of the other cats. I did clouded leopard TTouches going down either side of her back, then some ear strokes. The ear strokes were especially calming for her. I also did the Tarantula pulling the Plough touch, which is a bit hard to describe but a demo is here
It is a very helpful connecting touch, which a lot of cats respond do. however, I wouldn't do it with a cat who is not so friendly, as it can get them over-stimulated. I also did some chimp Ttouches with her, which are circular TTouches using the back of the middle section of the fingers.

Kobie is a friendly but rather hyper kitty, very sweet, but he can get startled easily by sudden movements or sounds. He waits at the front of his cage to be let out. I put my hand out for him to sniff, and he started to rub his head against it. He responds most to TTouches which use a larger part of the hand or a back surface of the hand, such as the llama TTouch, abalone TTouch and chimp TTouch. You can see a lot of these TTouches on my youtube channel:
He is kind of a character, so what he finds enjoyable is to weave between my feet when I am standing, and I lean over to do TTouch on him as he does this.

Louie has competely come around now. Last week I had started TTouching him with the back scratcher as he had just recently arrived and was a bit shy. But today, he jumped right out of his cage and started rubbing his face against my face, very sweet. I did abalone TTouches on him, which use the whole hand, and can be very soothing, and he calmed and was more focused after a while, then settled on my lap, purring, as you see above.

Mack (above) is also quite friendly now, and purred, rubbing against me after I let him out of his cage. I did abalone TTouches on him to calm him, then ear strokes. He found the ear strokes to be extremely calming and started really leaning into me as I was doing them on him.

Nene is a love, so sweet, and he also especially responds to abalone TTouches. He can sometimes get a bit nervous when he sees other cats, but the TTouches really put him at ease.

Pattie is quite a character, and, like Kobie, likes to weave between my legs as I do TTouch with him. The TTouches which he especially responds to are the abalone TTouch, llama TTouch (using the back of my whole hand), which I follow with Noah's march, a straight stroke done down the back. I often do this stroke using the back of my hand.

Tango is such an engaging little cat, comes right out of his cage and wants to interact with you immediately. As he is quite active, I often need to do TTouches on him while he is in motion. With him, I especially like to do connecting touches, such as the zigzag TTouch and the octopus TTouch, to give him a sensation of his whole body, as he still is walking a little strangely. He is using his back legs more than he was initially, he just doesn't use them in quite the usual way, and doesn't bend or flex them in the way that most cats do. So the connecting TTouches can remind his nervous system to feel all these points from head to tail and down to his feet. I do zigags going all around his body, down his legs to his feet, and then do a few little circles with his tail. The circles with the tail are very small and done very loosely. I also do little raccoon TTouches going down his tail, as the tail is very important for balance. He does something unusual with his tail, also. He walks with his tail at an angle going back over his body, and holds it a bit stiff when he walks. It seems he does this to counteract whatever instability there is in the legs.
Love all these little ones and look forward to seeing them again soon, unless, of course, they get adopted, which would be the best!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TTouch with Mayor's Alliance Cats: Feb. 14

Sorry this post took a while to publish, but better late than never!
Of course I was delighted to give some love to the Mayor's Alliance cats on Valentine's day :)
When I arrived, there were a few new cats, so I worked with them first.
Clint is a lovely big orange cat, and he was friendly right away. He was pretty excited to have contact, so I primarily did Ttouches which use the back of my hand, for a less-stimulating, more calming effect. I did llama TTouches and chimp TTouches going down his back, and then Noah's march (a straight stroke down his back) after that. Sometimes I would do a circle with the back of my hand and then a slide going all the way down his back. I also did a bit of ear TTouch with him.

Next, I worked with Louie, who I discuss in detail in a separate post.

Kobie is the young kitty pictured above who I started to work with last time. As you can see in the photo, he is pawing to get out of the cage, which was quite different behavior than the previous week, when he was more in the cowering position in his cage.
Once I let him out of the cage, I squatted on the floor so I was down at his level and he could easily come to me. He started to rub himself against me on one side of me, then the other side. As he did this, I did clouded leopard TTouches going down his back, ending with doing a stroke and gentle circle with his tail. Please keep in mind that I was not holding onto the tail. As the tail slid through my hands (he kept walking), I gently moved my hand in a small, clockwise circle, probably only going around once. As I did this, his energy went from feeling slightly overstimulated to feeling more focused. I also did abalone TTouches on him, as well as raccoon TTouches on his head and strokes on his ears. He was quite comfortable being touched in this way - letting him continue moving as he wanted to, doing TTouches on him as he walked and rubbed himself against me. It was interesting, when he was done, he just hopped back in his cage.

The new little tabby's name is Laura. She was very energetic and eager to be touched, very friendly. I did chimp TTouches going down her body, and little raccoon TTouches on her head. She was purring like crazy and very comfortable the whole time.

I realized when I went there that I have Nene and Mack's names mixed up, as the orange kitty looks like a Mack and the tabby looks like Nene, but it's really the other way around, sorry kitties! I assume they are both boys but I will have to check on that. Nene (above) and Mack (below) are in the same cage. Mack had started out a little shy last week, as they both were new, but both these cats were very comfortable this week. On Nene, I did chimp TTouches and some Noah's marches down his back. Mack came right out of the cage, and as he walked back and forth, rubbing his face and body against my hand, I did clouded leopard TTouches on his body. I also used the jelly scrubber with him. This is a tool originally used for grooming horses, but it is a wonderful TTouch tool. You can lightly do circular TTouches on an animal, using either side of the scrubber, depending on what your animal prefers. Mack was very comfortable with this.

Pattie (below) was next. He has come such a long way. He was frightened for quite a while, and now can't wait to come out of his cage. He will stay right in the front of his cage with his paw pushed against the plexiglass until I come to work with him.
What his favorite thing to do is to wind around a person's legs, rubbing against them and being generally playful. I use a long-handled paintbrush to do TTouches on him while he is doing this. Sometimes I will have two paintbrushes handy, so if he starts to play with one of the brushes, I can still do TTouch on him with the other.

Next I worked with Tango, he appears to be walking a little better this week, using his hind legs a little more completely. I did zigzag TTouches on him while he was walking, as he was in a very active mood. I did zigzags on one side, then the other, then criscrossing from one side to the other, ending with doing little circular TTouches on his back feet. I did a little ear TTouch on him as well.

Brie can get overstimulated easily, so I take it slow and easy with her, just doing a few circular TTouches on her at a time, using a back scratcher to do this at first (with the back of the hand of the back scratcher, then a bit with my hand.
happy valentines to all you little ones!

TTouch with Mayor's Alliance Cats: Feb. 14 with Louie

Louie is a lovely grey and white cat who had recently arrived when I went to work with the Mayor's Alliance rescue cats thru Tavi & Friends on Valentine's Day. He looked as though he was not aggressive, just scared, as you can see by his look of hesitation above.
With a new cat that I am not 110% sure about, I generally start off using one of the TTouch tools to make contact, to put a little distance in between the cat and me, so that we both feel safe. Louie was in a double-cage with a hole in between the two, so I put plastic the back scratcher through the hole between cages from the cage he was not occupying. I stood sideways to his cage (something I always do), and spoke to him softly as I gradually made contact with the back of the hand of the back scratcher. I softly touched him a couple of places on his his body and head, to see where he was most comfortable being touched. He was most responsive to being touched on the top of his head and along the ears, so I stayed there and he began to push into the back stratcher with the top of his head.

I continued, doing some circles and strokes on his head, including the sides of his face as well and gradually working in circles and strokes on his body as well. Little by little he began walking towards me til he was right near the edge of the cage near the door. He made a few little mewing sounds, as though he wasn't quite sure, but was kind of excited to be making contact at the same time.

During this process, I would give him a break from time to time, taking the back scratcher out of the cage, letting him rest for a minute, then starting again. It is really important to give breaks along the way when you're working like this, especially when you're working with an animal that is shy or unsure. Sometimes when I gave him a break, he would return to the back of the cage, but then would move toward the front of the cage again once I started to touch him.
You can see the full clip of me working with him at this youtube link:
Sometimes I think he surprised himself when he ended up so close to my hand! I think he would have been OK with me doing TTouch on him with my hand, but I decided not to push the issue, as this was my first time working with him.
Thank you, Louie, I look forward to working with you more soon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reiki at BARC Shelter: Adele B and Gratitude

Adele B is a gentle, senior kitty at BARC Shelter. When she arrived, it was found that she was microchipped, but her previous owner did not want her back.
Despite whatever difficulties she may have been through, she has a such gentle and sweet energy. Because she is on the frail side, and is sensitive, quite often when I am doing Reiki with her, I keep my hands a short distance away, depending on what seems to be her comfort level. Reiki energy can be too overwhelming for some animals to have hands directly on them.
Yesterday she was resting at the back of her cage, and so I offered her Reiki, letting her stay where she was. I put my hands in several different positions during our session, and she shifted a few times so that my hands were where she wanted them to be. I especially felt heat in her brachial chakra area. This chakra is one that only animals have, and is located near the two shoulders. It is also called the "key chakra", and can help the energy flow to the other chakras. I felt the energy being absorbed there, and could visualize the cones of energy going in from each side. She seemed to be very comforted by this.
When she had enough, she let me know by standing up and walking towards me and towards the front of her cage. She drank some water, and ate some of her food, which was great to see.
Then, she walked right towards me and very gently stretched out her paw and put it on my arm, looking at me. I waited to see if this meant that she was ready to come out onto my lap, but then I felt it was a simple gesture to thank me. She did it a couple of times, touching my arm with a light tap of her paw.
Thank you, Adele. Animals have so much to teach us about gratitude. I feel so honored to learn so much from animals every day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TTouch with the Mayor's Alliance Cats Jan. 31 and Feb. 7

Following is a blog post about my work with Mayor's Alliance Rescue cats through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program. I have combined the two dates above.

Tango is a very friendly young kitty, who has some issues with his hind legs. He can actually get around fine, even running and jumping. But he sort of swings around his hind legs rather than bending them and using them in the way cats usually do. I have been doing TTouches with him to try to bring awareness to his hindquarters and feet, as well as connecting TTouches to connect front to back. I have been doing connected Raccoon TTouches going all the way down his back and down his legs as well, and on his feet and in between his toes. Fortunately, he is a friendly cat and it is not hard to do this. I have also been doing zigzag TTouches going down his back and across his back, even zigzagging to connect down his legs. I tried to use a wrap with him but he is not keen on it, so I decided that the touches would be most beneficial to him at this time. He is energetic and can get squiggly after a short time, so I work on him in short bursts -- a little TTouch, let him go run around, then try again. He often will go back into his cage on his own, so sometimes I work on him in his cage too.

Pattie (above) looks a bit serious in this photo, but he has really come around the past few weeks. He has been through a few transitions while at the boarding facility - when he first came in, he seemed shy but receptive to touch, then for a few weeks it seemed as though something had scared him and he would often try to swat if you approached him (though at the same time he seemed to crave touch and would come to the front of his cage for attention). Now he is very seeking of touch, and I was even able to pick him up with no reaction from him at all. When I take him out of the cage, he weaves around my feet. I have been alternating between TTouching him with a paintbrush, which he really responds to, and doing touches mostly with the back of my hand or my whole hand. He just altogether seems like a much happier, playful cat, which is amazing to see. Often when he is in his cage, he will rest a paw on the plexiglass window, reaching out to me.

Nene (above) arrived recently with her buddy Mack (below). Nene starts out a little shy, but with some encouragement, she will come forward and is very friendly. I used a paintbrush to make initial contact with both her and Mack, but quickly transitioned to using my hand to do the TTouches, as they both were very receptive. Please click on the following link and you will see a youtube click showing a bit of my first day working with them, and I transition from using the brush to using the back of my hand to do some llama TTouches

Mack was very comfortable with being touched directly with my hand, but because the cage was on an upper level and he was on a shelf, he was hard to reach! You can see by some of his body language in the video (blinking, licking) that he is pretty cozy with the brush TTouches.
I know he looks a little quizzical in the still photo below but I think he is just wondering what I'm up to!
On Feb. 7, I started out with Nene using the brush, and she quickly came to the front of the cage, rubbing her head against my hand, so I then did TTouches on her mouth area and down her body, and she was very comfortable with this. She is still startled by sudden noises or someone coming in the room, but her recovery is very fast. Mack is comfortable right away with being touched by hand, though he also can be startled when someone new comes in the room. They are both very gentle, sweet cats.

Below is Kobie, who arrived very recently. When I opened his cage, he jumped out and ran inside of a carrier which was on the floor. I gently did some circles on him using the back of the hand on a plastic back scratcher, starting on his head. At first he started to pull away, but once he felt the circular TTouches, he stopped and it looked as though he thought, "wait a minute, this feels different. hm, it feels good!" and he started to settle into the touches and lean into the back scratcher.
This is something I have observed a lot with TTouch. As the TTouches are non-habitual movements, quite often, I will see an animal change their mind midstream and go from starting to pull away to calming down and actually leaning into the touches. The touches seem to interrupt THEIR habitual response, and they seem to think, "hey, wait, this feels good, I'm going to check this out." It is so interesting to observe this time and time again, and so great to see these animals, who are used to being frightened and pulling away, begin to be able to have a different response.
Back to Kobie. Soon he came out of the carrier and I was able to do some TTouches on him there. I gave him a break, and he soon went back into his cage. Once he did this, I did some more TTouches on him using the back scratcher again, some on the head, and some going down the body. He became more and more relaxed as I did this. I did touch him a bit with my hands as well, but I didn't want to push the issue, as this was our first session together.

Also, on Jan. 31, there was a very friendly black kitten named Mittens. I did clouded leopard TTouches, abalone TTouches, mouth TTouches, and ear slides on her. She was very soothed by this and stretched out as I did this. On this date there was also a polydactyl polka-dotted cat who we temporarily named Polly, and she was also super-friendly. She was very active, so I used TTouches (llama and abalone) using my whole hand to calm her energy. I also did some ear slides on her. Both these cats had either been adopted or been fostered when I arrived on Feb. 7.

Brie (below) is a sweet, very playful cat, who can get over-stimulated, so this time I decided to completely wait for her to come to me once I let her out of the cage. This worked quite well. When she was ready to come to me, I did some llama TTouches down her back, and she rubbed against me, looking very comfortable.