Sunday, April 17, 2011

TTouch and Reiki at BARC Shelter: Heidi

Heidi is a very dear, petite little kitty at BARC Shelter in Brooklyn. When I first began to work with her, she was pretty much frozen, curled up in her litter box. Since she gave a little hiss initially, I first did TTouch on her using a paintbrush, then transitioned to using my hand. I also did some gentle Reiki with her.

As with many cats, she was more comfortable being touched on the head than on the body at first, so that is where I focused first.

In the picture above, I am doing little raccoon TTouches on the back of her neck area. This can be a great area to work, as it gets very tight on a nervous cat, and I think cats in cages in general can get a lot of tension back there. As always, I was using a very light pressure. Cats are so sensitive that in general I am using extremely light pressure, just enough to move the skin around in a circle and a quarter. You can get a sense of how light this can be by taking a finger and moving the skin on your hand around in a circle and a quarter.- not pushing down into the skin, just touching it and moving it around in a circular motion.

Around the mouth area and under the chin is often a great area to work with a cat as well. In the photo above, I am doing circular TTouches using the back of my finger. This is not an official TTouch, but it is one that I use often on frightened cats. I am gently moving the skin outside the mouth in a circle and a quarter, then sliding my finger a little ways towards the jaw, doing another circular touch there, etc. Back surfaces of the finger or hand are less intense than front surfaces, so this worked quite well with Heidi. She started to be responsive by rubbing her face against my finger and hand.

This is another hand position I used in order to do some circular TTouches around the outside of the mouth and jaw area. As one is a bit limited in space when working on an animal in a cage, I have to adjust myself to that situation.

Above is a photo of Heidi looking more relaxed - she was leaning her head into my touch by this point. The above photos were taken during two different sessions two days apart. During the second session, I also worked in some very lightly-done zigzag touches and other touches on the body, just a little at a time, then going back to touching the head, as that was where her comfort zone was.

Above is Heidi a couple of days after those first sessions. Here, she is comfortable enough to lay completely on her side. At one point she stretched all the way out, showing me her stomach. Her eyes are more open and relaxed here. Again, I started with TTouches on her head area and then worked in some TTouches on the body as I went along. She still sometimes gets startled or confused, sometimes making a sound that sounds like a combination growl and purr, simultaneously leaning into the touch, so I do still give her frequent breaks so as not to overwhelm her. She is still tending to stay at the back of the cage, but is definitely much more comfortable, and is more at ease having other volunteers touch her as well, which is terrific.

Thank you Heidi, look forward to seeing you soon -- and thanks to all the lovely staff and volunteers who help Heiki and the other animals to feel better every day :)

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