Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pip Meets Oliver: The Sensitive Subject of Introducing Cats

Above: Pip, below: Oliver. Thank you, Sarah Hoppes, for the use of your beautiful photographs which I used in this post. Sarah is one of the guardians of these cats, and is a professional photographer.

Several months ago, thanks to a referral from my wonderful Reiki teacher, Sheryl Berger, I had a session a few months ago with a lovely grey and white cat, Pip, and his people, Sarah and Chris. Sarah and Chris had rescued Pip a couple of months before from a dumpster near where they live. Pip was often very sweet and cuddly with them, but during the middle of the night, he would often howl and rage around, pouncing on them, etc. He had been checked out medically and was in good health. So we were hopeful that TTouch would be of help to him and to his people.

You can read a more detailed account of this session in the following post:

During our session, I worked with Pip, as well as showing Sarah and Chris how to do a number of TTouches. After the session, Sarah and Chris continued to work with him with the TTouches and, especially after a move to a larger apartment, he calmed down a lot. They also said the cat condo I had recommended that they get for Pip worked very well– that he would go in there to calm himself down. (see below)

Now comes the second part of the story. A second cat came into their life, who they rescued from their new neighborhood. He was a lovely 6-month old tabby kitten who they named Oliver.

Sarah and Chris were very sensitive in their process of integrating the two cats; letting the cats get used to each other little by little, keeping them in separate rooms but bringing them together for increasing amounts of time, doing TTouches with them. They were also doing TTouch with the cats simultaneously on either sides of the separating door, feeding them tasty treats at the same time.
Then, on the evening of Hurricane Irene, the two cats were near each other and they were giving them love and TTouch, when Pip suddenly became agitated and tried to jump on Oliver to attack him. So they had to take a step back in the cats’ integration. At that point, they asked me to come and do a session with them to see what would be a good strategy for working with the two cats going forward.
They had been switching the cats’ spaces every so often, and at that point, they had Pip in the bedroom and Oliver in the living room. Oliver had started to hide under the couch, and Pip was often trying to get out of the bedroom, often banging against the door with his body. It sounded like Oliver was terrified of Pip, and that Pip was continuing to be agitated, probably threatened by the presence of Oliver.
I had a feeling that Oliver would benefit from being in the bedroom so he could snuggle with the owners at night and that Pip would be more content in the living room, so I suggested that they switch the cats’ spaces. Also at that point Oliver didn’t have a little cat condo for a private space, so I suggested that they get him one. These changes worked very well. Oliver didn’t try to hide any more, and Pip was not trying to get into Oliver’s space, the bedroom. About a week after they made this change, I had a session with Sarah, Pip and Oliver.
Each cat has a good amount of space, complete with food, litter box, toys and a cat condo to hide out in when they need. Chris and Sarah have been continuing to feed and TTouch the cats on either side of the door. They had been bringing Pip in to Oliver's space using a harness and leash, but had been scared to do that since Pip had tried to jump on Oliver to attack him. The cats seemed very content and not stressed at all when in their own spaces.

I did TTouches (and Reiki) with both cats in their separate spaces. Then we decided to try bringing Pip into Oliver's space. We put harnesses and leashes on both cats, so that it would be a safe, controlled situation.

Sarah was TTouching Oliver on the bed when I brought Pip into his space. I was surprised, as Pip did not strain at the leash or go for Oliver right away (apparently this is what had happened when they had tried this before). I kept the leash loose, and he first wandered a bit, sniffing the other cat's food area etc. Then Pip went up on the bed (where Oliver was), but I kept him a distance away. All the while, I was doing TTouches on him and giving some treats, and Sarah was doing the same with Oliver.

Before today, she said Oliver would try to hide and get away from Pip when they had tried this. This time he stood his ground, doing a little growling and hissing. I took Pip back into the other room fairly soon because I didn't want Oliver to get too stressed or for Pip to try to jump on Oliver. Then we did TTouches on the cats in their separate spaces to calm them, and tried again. This time, Pip more readily went to try to jump on the bed and get to Oliver. Again, Oliver growled and hissed but didn't run away. And I took Pip out once he jumped up on the bed, before he got anywhere close to Oliver.

While it wasn't great that Oliver was growling and hissing, it felt it was a step in the right direction that Oliver wasn't so terrified that he had to scramble, run away and hide -- that he was confident enough to stand his ground. I feel that with more time and more TTouch and more contact with the other cat, the growling and hissing will be less. And when I picked Pip up to bring him back into his space, he wasn't crazy or aggressive with me. I kept my attitude very matter of fact and he was relaxed and chill right away once back in his own space, not straining or clawing to get back into the other space, though of course he was more interested and was lying near the door.

I brought Pip back into his own space again, and spent a good deal of time with each cat to calm them and make them feel good.

Next, we tried a doing a TTouch half wrap (, first on Pip, then on Oliver. As the cats are accustomed to and comfortable with having harnesses put on, they were both fine about putting the wrap on (unlike most cats I work with, who think it is something to play with and attack!). I noticed a small shift with Pip after the wrap was put on. I did some TTouches on him after putting the wrap on.

However, with Oliver, who tends to be more of a scaredy cat, the effect was immediate and dramatic. It really was magical, the transformation was so concrete. He started PURRRING up a storm, stretching out and looking SO comfortable. (below, Oliver is shown with the half-wrap on).

I advised Sarah to definitely use the TTouch wrap, especially on Oliver, when they bring the cats together.

I told her it would be beneficial to use at various other times as well, incorporating the TTouches along with the wrap. I also described to her the importance of intention and positive visualization – something which can sound so simplistic but which can make such a difference.
At the end of the session, both cats were EXTREMELY relaxed. It seems to me that it will just take some time for them to be comfortable with each other.
Sarah and Chris are very dedicated to helping the cats, and are continuing to do a great job with them. In a follow-up call with Sarah a couple of weeks after the session, she said they are continuing to make good progress with the cats. They are using the TTouch wrap, along with the TTouches and some other techniques I advised them to use to make the cats more comfortable with each other. Though Pip still can still get a bit overexcited at times, in general, the cats are becoming more and more at ease with each other. Both cats are also becoming more secure and confident, which helps them to feel more comfortable and less threatened by the other cat.

Thanks so much Pip, Oliver, Sarah and Chris, I wish you all the best!!

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