Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TTouch at BARC Shelter: Ophelia

Ophelia is a lovely grey and white kitty at BARC shelter, thought to be maybe 3 yrs old, though she looks younger as she is a small cat. She was extremely fearful when she first arrived. She is currently quite playful and seems to seek contact, though often will swat if you try to touch her. I am constantly trying different tools with her to see what she responds to and what will be helpful to get closer to her. We now have some paintbrushes and a back scratcher or two around at the shelter, so other volunteers can try touching her with the tools as well. I have showed them how to use these tools in a very gentle way.
A few days ago, I was working with her with a wide, flat brush that looks like it is made for basting. She didn't seem to be so responsive to the brush any more, so I turned it around and tried touching her with the rounded other end of the brush, as you see in these pictures. The wood of the handle is varnished and very smooth. One of the places she most responds to being touched is under her chin, so I would start there.

Then I tried some circular TTouches around the top of her head and the outside of her mouth area. I very consciously slowed myself down, tried to let go of whatever notions I might have for the outcome.. Little by little she became more and more relaxed.

I would do a few TTouches or strokes at a time, then give her a break, then start again. She can get easily over-stimulated, so it is best in this case to just do a very little bit at a time.

Gradually, as I felt her relax, I wanted to see what would happen if I worked my finger down the handle of the brush and occasionally touch her with my finger. As you can see in these pictures, I am still holding the brush but am TTouching her with my finger, then I would go back to touching her with the brush handle. Keep in mind that all of these touches are done using a very light pressure, just enough to move the skin around in a circle and a quarter.

Funny, in the picture below she is looking straight at me!
A short bit after these pictures, she got quite sleepy and I was able to do TTouches around her head directly with my hand for quite a while. I feel that with continued work with the tools, shifting from one to another, then transitioning to the hand, gradually she will get more and more used to being touched with hands.

Many thanks, Ophelia, look forward to working with you again soon.

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