Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feral Kittens at BARC Shelter: Belly Lifts, Ear Work and Mouth Work

I have been continuing to work with a batch of feral kittens who arrived recently at BARC shelter. First two arrived, then a third (the tabby you see on the right above), and then one more black and white kitten (sorry didn't get a pic of him).

They started out hissing and very frightened, but have been getting increasingly friendly. I have been doing a lot of TTouch and Reiki with them, and others have been working with them to help socialize them as well. As you can see from the pictures, they are getting very playful, which is a big improvement from the initial cowering in the litter box!

Recently I was working with Crazy Horse, the tabby and white kitten who is the shyest of the bunch. I noticed that when I happened to put my hand under his belly, he got very comfortable. So I began to do some gentle TTouch belly lifts with him, lifting my hand up just a very little bit, holding my hand there, then slowly releasing. This prompted him to want to eat, so I continued doing a few TTouches with him while he ate. In general, the belly lifts can help a cat to feel more comfortable, as it releases the muscles there, enabling the animal to breathe more fully, etc. It can also be helpful for digestion. At times I also held my hand still and let Reiki energy flow to him.

Most recently, I have started to get them used to being picked up, little by little. I will lift a kitten up with two hands under its belly, gently lifting it, still within the cage, then set it back down and do some circular TTouches, zigzag TTouches and octopus TTouches (like a double zigzag TTouch, using both hands at the same time. Hair slides and ear strokes are also helpful. I do the TTouches for a minute or two, then lift it up again, put it back down and do the TTouches again, helping them to associate the lifting with very gentle TTouches. The next step will be lifting them up and out of the cage, but I wanted to acclimate them to the process of being lifted up in a very gradual way so that the lifting out of the cage is not such a big deal when it happens. See you soon, little ones!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jinx and the TTouch Body Wrap

I have been working with my friend Jordyn Thiessen's ( cat Jinx, as he has been losing mobility in his hind legs, either due to a disk problem or a tumor. TTouch and Reiki have been helping him to feel more comfortable and bring some more connection, but last week I decided to try a wrap with him.
I am never sure how a cat will react to having a wrap put on them. For many cats, especially the cats who I work with in the shelters, who are often fearful, the stress of putting the wrap on is just too much for them, even when done gradually. However, some cats are completely accepting of the wrap and for them, the experience can be profound.

Jinx was completely fine with me putting the half wrap on him. I used a two-inch ace bandage cut in half so it was really a one-inch bandage. What was interesting was that immediately he began to walk and it was obvious that he felt much more connection to his hind feet and legs. Lately, his legs are generally quite wobbly, and can buckle altogether or sometimes his feet will flip over so he is dragging the front part of his feet.

We went into the hall with him, where he likes to walk, and I connected another wrap to the half-wrap so that he now had a full wrap on, which you will see in one of the videos. He is doing quite well, using his feet more completely and using his legs in a more integrated way. At the end of the first clip, he gets a bit tired and loses balance again, but altogether this is a big improvement for him.

Then we took off the wrap, and immediately his hind legs buckled again. However, once Jordyn put him into standing position, he started to use his legs more fully again, though could retain the balance for just a short time.

Then we put a half-wrap on him again, and again he was walking in a more integrated and full way. And when we took it off the second time, he seemed to retain the feeling of balance a bit longer than he had the previous time.
Our hope is that with some time and practice, his body will start to remember the feeling of connection without the wrap, or, at least, he will be able to be as balanced as is possible for him, given whatever his medical condition may be.
I have a demo of the half-wrap on my youtube channel, and will try to get a demo of the full wrap up soon. There are different ways to do it, but for Jinx, I just added onto the half-wrap by looping another wrap through the back part of the half-wrap, then looping it around the hind legs.

At the end, I did some Reiki with Jinx to help him wind down again. Thanks Jinx! look forward to seeing you soon. xo

Friday, November 18, 2011

Soothing Feral Kittens at BARC Shelter

A few days ago I began working with two feral kittens at BARC shelter (since these pix, two more have been trapped), and this blog post discusses my first session with them. The picture above is actually after I had worked with them for a while, but you can see the black and white one still has the wide-eyed scared look. It's interesting, because the one on the right is actually more shy in its behavior.

When I opened the cage, they both hissed at me. When kittens or cats are terrified initially, I begin working with them either by doing Reiki from a short distance away, or by doing TTouch using a tool, such as a long-handled paintbrush. I began my work with them using a "fan" style paintbrush, which they were very receptive to. Sometimes I need to try a variety of tools before finding the one that really works, but this seemed to do the trick. I did little circular TTouches and strokes on the top of their heads, the outside of their mouth area, and then gradually started working some circular TTouches and strokes going down their body.

I just did a very little bit at a time, alternating between one kitten and another. When one kitten starts to get comfortable, usually the other does as well. After a few minutes, I was able to work my hand down the handle of the brush and began doing TTouches on the kittens with my hand, again, starting around the head area, top of head, ears, outside of mouth, then working down the body. I often used the back surfaces of my hand and fingers to do the ttouches, which is why you see my hand in a curved position below.

You can see the black and white kitten watching as I'm TTouching the other kitten, and the tabby and white kitten being a bit hesitant, but after a bit they settled into it. Again, I was doing a few TTouches on one kitten, then switching to the other, back and forth. At various points in the session, I would hold my hand still and just let the Reiki energy (which was constantly flowing) to flow over them.

I gave them a bit of a break, closing the cage, and when I opened the cage again, they were one on top of the other as you see here.

Again, I did some circular TTouches, mostly on their head areas, using the backs of my fingers. Around the forehead is a great area to work, and the ear strokes and TTouches around the outside of the mouth were also quite calming. The ears have many acupressure points, which have to do with respiration, digestion, etc, and the mouth area connects with the limbic system, which governs the emotions, so working these areas can help to really bring the stress level of an animal down.

By the time I had finished working with them, they were quite cozy, cuddled as you see here. See you soon, little ones!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

TTouch and Reiki at BARC Shelter: A Quiet Connection with Abby

Abby is a dear white senior cat at BARC Shelter. He arrived at the shelter after his owner passed away. He is quite a sensitive kitty, and, though he is friendly with people, he appears to be frightened of other cats and of dogs. He can also become overwhelmed if approached with energy that is too intense. It is easy to imagine that this transition must have been so difficult for him.

So I started out with him in a very gentle way, sending him Reiki energy from a short distance away. He sensed the energy right away and smelled my hands, as though he was smelling the energy. He came closer and closer to me until he was cuddled around my hands and arms, and he stretched out for a snooze. I felt such a deep calm in him, and a bubble of calm energy around us. This was so lovely to feel and see.

The next time I worked with him, the same thing happened, he came forward to sniff the energy, then became entertwined in my hands and arms. I had my elbows bent, resting on the bottom of the cage and my hands facing either side of him, so he had one paw over the crook of each elbow, and was feeling the energy between my hands and arms. In the moments of these intensely special connections, it feels as though I merge with the animal, and I will often feel tears welling up. I try to let that feeling just pass through and focus on continuing to send positive energy coming back to the animal.

After both these sessions, I felt such a profound sense of peace and calm in Abby, and it felt as though there was a bubble of calm around him as well. Best wishes to you Abby, look forward to seeing you soon. And thank you as always to BARC shelter for taking care of all these beautiful animals.

TTouch and Reiki at BARC Shelter: Surrounding with Love: Tuco

Tuco is a beautiful black kitten who arrived at BARC shelter a couple of weeks ago. She was brought there by local police, and apparently had been abused by people - hit in the face. It is impossible to understand how anyone could hurt this sweet, defenseless creature. She was at the vet for a while, as she needed surgery and then needed to be monitored for a while. I had heard that she was feral and fearful.

So when I began to work with her, I didn't want to overwhelm her by trying to touch her directly with my hand right away. I have a fan-shaped paintbrush with a long handle, so I began to stroke her head and do little circular TTouches around her head area. She hissed when I first opened the cage, but fairly quickly began to calm down. I was sending her Reiki during teh whole session as well. I worked with her for a while, then gave her a break.

Then I worked with her again, starting with the paintbrush and moving my hand down the handle of the paintbrush until I was doing TTouches directly on her head. Eventually I was able to work in some TTouches going down her body as well. I did chimp TTouches going down her body, as these use the back surface of the fingers, so it is less intense than using the front surface of my fingers.

This wasn't one continuous session, though. I would work with her for a bit, then stop, giving her a break, then start again. A couple of times I closed the cage to give her a bigger break, other times I just moved away from her and sat near the edge of her cage, continuing to send Reiki. Sometimes I would pause, holding my hands very still and letting the Reiki continue to flow through my hands.

She became more and more calm as I did this, relaxing the muscles of her face and body, and her breathing became deeper. I ended up just doing little circular TTouches on her forehead using the fingernail on my index finger. Little by little her head began to nod off into a very relaxed sleep. It was so sweet to see this creature who had been through so much become so peaceful.
Thank you, little one, see you soon!

Reiki and TTouch with Bonsai and Nilo: Nov. 12

A few days ago, I went to do Reiki and TTouch with Bonsai and Nilo, who I have worked with off and on over the past year or more. Bonsai (above) is a sweet senior Burmese kitty, and Nilo is a very independent, lovely bengal cat (below). Nilo is extremely close with his human "mom", but is generally afraid of everyone else. He initially would run away from me, but we have established a closer and closer connection as time has gone on. Kristin's daughter has been able to have a bit more of a connection with Nilo as well. Bonsai tends to have seizures, which are being controlled with medication, and has been getting more frail as time has gone on. Kristin called me primarily because Bonsai had been seeming to be more frail and lethargic lately, so I spent a bit of time with Nilo, then concentrated most of my time with Bonsai.
Nilo is generally most receptive to TTouch in short spurts, as he is very sensitive and can get easily overwhelmed.

First I did some abalone TTouches with Nilo, working down each side of his back slowly. The abalone TTouches are circular TTouches done with the whole hand. The larger surface of the hand can be comforting to many cats who are unsure of people other than their guardians. I also did some slow zigzag TTouches from the front part of his body to the back, which are helpful in bringing an animal who is a bit scared back into its body. He actually didn't seem scared with me today, he settled into the TTouches pretty well, then decided he was done and walked away.So I then focused my attention on little Bonsai.

With Bonsai, I did a little bit of Reiki with him with my hands slightly off his body, then he got up to eat some treats. Reiki can sometimes stimulate the appetite! While he was in the kitchen, I did some TTouches with him which he was very receptive to, nuzzling sweetly against my hand.
When he was done with this, I thought a nice warm place would be cozy for him so I put him in a sunny patch on the couch and he settled in, curling up for a Reiki nap as I worked with him. I started out by having one hand resting over the solar plexus chakra (about midway down the back) and one hand off. As he is a delicate being, I often just have one hand on his body at a time, so as not to overwhelm him with too much energy.
He settled into this position for a while, then rearranged himself til one hand was on his head and the other was over his base chakra, on the very lower part of the back. Animals will show you where they want the energy to go. I stayed there for a LONG time as he took a reiki nap, I felt him totally taking the energy in. As the heat in these areas began to dissipate, I followed the heat on his body which seemed to work down the back from the heart chakra, to the solar plexus chakra, sacral chakra, and the base chakra again. I felt a lot of heat coming out, but it would start to dissipate as I continued to hold my hand or hands over these areas. I felt him to be sooooooo peaceful. He stretched out on his side and I continued with hands-on reiki near the solar plexus and heart chakras again, following my intuition and his body language as to where my hands should be.
Kristin came in the room to speak to me and as we spoke, I continued to send the energy to Bonsai as he continued to be laid stretched out on his side. When I left, I felt so much calm in Bonsai and a calm energy surrounding him.

Later that night, I received an email from Kristin saying that Bonsai seemed to be much better after our session, that his energy had picked up, and he just seemed to be feeling better. This is always so wonderful to hear, it means the world to me. A few days after the session, I stopped by their apartment to deliver Bach flower remedies for the cats, and indeed, Bonsai looked much more alert, present, and energetic. Thanks so much to you all, sending all the best ..... xo

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Taking it Slooow and Easy With a Shy Cat: TTouch, Reiki and Cat Sitting with Krishna: Day 2

Today when I arrived to feed and work with Krishna, he was sitting in his usual place on the couch. He got off the couch right away and started walking towards me. When working with him, I always start sending Reiki to him before I get to the apartment, and continue when I am entering the apartment. It is especially important to do this with him, as when it's someone other than his people entering the space, he can be very frightened and sometimes pounce. The Reiki energy seems to lessen his concern, and he has not pounced on my feet yet.
After giving him his food and water, we settled down for a little play, TTouch, and Reiki. First of all I engaged him in a bit of play to get out some of his pent-up energy. He loves to chase the light from a flashlight. This is a great toy to use with him, especially for someone other than his people, as you can do this and be quite far away if necessary. However, I actually was in quite close proximity to him most of the time I was there today. Quite often today when I would give him a break and stop playing or doing TTouch etc, he came closer to me all on his own, to sit closer to me or sniff me or, in once case, he actually pawed my sweater a bit as though to get me to continue.

After chasing around the light for a while, I gave him a short break and did a bit of TTouch with him using a paintbrush. As he can become easily overstimulated, I would just do a few TTouches and then stop, then start again. Though his tail was twitching, indicating he was rather ramped up, it seemed more in a playful mode rather than a terrified mode. He was rolling around and doing little somersaults, which seem to be part of his play mode. Another thing he did occasionally was let out a little "brrrring" or chirping type of sound, which felt like he was telling me he was ready to play.

I also did some TTouches using a thin dowel with a bit of ACE bandage wrapped around the end, but as he can sometimes want to pull the ACE bandage off, I went back to using the paintbrush. I continued to give him breaks and during the breaks I would also be sending Reiki to him to continue the flow of calm energy.

I could tell that he was still somewhat wary of me but curious at the same time. I'm sure that he misses his people too, which affects his mood. When cat sitting, I always make sure to tell the cat how many times it will get dark before their people return, and reassure them that the people are going to return.

So, back to the events today During the breaks as I sent him Reiki, he would often come up to me to sniff me a bit. I stayed very still while he sniffed me, so as not to startle him. One of the places he likes to go to, where it looks like he feels safe, is underneath a chair. I did a few TTouches on him with the paintbrush while he was under the chair, then gave him a break again, and he came back out from underneath the chair. When working with the paintbrush, I do circular TTouches and straight strokes on him, sometimes rolling the paintbrush on its side, improvising to see what the cat responds to the most. Today I was just working on Krishna's head area, as it seemed it would be too much to work on his body today.

After giving him a break and taking care of his litter box, I sat on the floor again with him. This time I made a conscious effort to slow the TTouches down a substantial amount as I did them on his forehead, and it really made a difference. This time he really settled into the TTouches for a while. I saw his body relax, and his eyes close. After we were done, I looked at him and he blinked at me, always a wonderful sign!
Rebecca texted me when they got back, saying that Krishna was doing great, which is always so lovely to hear.

Love ya Krishna, hope to see you soon!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

TTouch, Reiki and Cat Sitting with Krishna, Nov: Day one

Today was my first day cat sitting with Krishna, a cat who I have worked with and cat-sat for before, and then recently had an appointment with. He is generally fearful of people other than Rebecca and Tim, his guardians, but I have been able to get closer and closer to him the longer I work with him.

When I first arrived, he seemed a bit scared, so I sent him Reiki from across the room, and he began to calm, rubbing his body against a wall and stretching out. After giving him food and water, scooping the litter etc. we settled down for a play/TTouch/Reiki session.

Last time I cat-sat for him I discovered that he loves to chase the light from a flashlight, so this is how I started out with him. I thought it might be good to get some of his nervous energy out before trying some Reiki and TTouch. He really got into it, chasing all over the place.
It is interesting too, as he clearly realizes where the light is coming from. If I stop, and put the flashlight down, he comes towards the flashlight and nudges it towards me, to encourage me to continue.

After playing, I began to send him some Reiki from a short distance and he began to calm, stretching out on the carpet.

Then he went under a stool, one of the places he likes to go to feel safe. I began to do some TTouch with the paintbrush, doing a little bit at a time, then stopping, then starting again.

As we went, I sometimes incorporated some a few circles or strokes on the body as well, then went back to the head.

Giving him frequent breaks felt very key, as he is so ultra-sensitive, and can become over-stimulated quite easily. So I would just do a few touches or strokes, then stop, then start again.

Sometimes during the breaks, he would come towards me and put a paw out or do something else which felt like he thought we were playing a game and he was ready for more. Sometimes he would start to play with the tool, especially when I tried touching him with a dowel with a bit of ACE bandage on the end, so I would then give him a break, then went back to using the paintbrush. Always keep in mind that the touch is done very lightly with TTouch, as you are connecting with the nervous system, not the muscular system.

After we were done, I gave him the rest of his food, which he readily went to eat, which was a great sign.

See ya tomorrow, Krishna! xo

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Taking it Sllllow and Easy with a Shy Cat: TTouch and Reiki with Krishna, Nov. 2

Krishna is a beautiful black cat who is generally very afraid of anyone except for his people, Rebecca and Tim. I have worked with him off and on over the past months and he has gotten progressively comfortable with me, though I still have to give him the time he needs to warm up to me and go very very slowly as far as contact goes - mostly touching him with a paintbrush, or, at most, a few seconds of TTouch with my hand on his head area.

Rebecca contacted me recently, as she wanted me to have a session with Krishna and also to cat sit for a couple of days with him. She said that after their move to a larger apartment, Krishna is doing better - that he seems more comfortable in general, and doesn't seem so terrified when other people come over -- that, in fact, he can even seem OK sometimes with other people around, which is great.

I hadn't seen him for a few months so really wanted to take it slow. I started out by sending him Reiki from a short distance away. After a few minutes, he settled down and started to get somewhat more comfortable. Then I started to do some TTouches on his head using a paintbrush - just a little at a time. Little by little he became more comfortable, stretching out his body and rolling a bit on the floor. It seemed he was also more comfortable today because Rebecca sat near us (instead of across the room, or further away) and occasionally would pet him or reassure him, as sometimes with me he will be very comfortable, but then suddenly get unsure and frightened. We agreed that will probably be a good strategy when she is getting him used to another person, and that the person should touch him with a tool instead of their hand at first.

I gave Krishna breaks as I went along, so any tension building up had a chance to dissipate. Today I found I was able to incorporate TTouches on his body with the paintbrush, going from the head to the body and back again. This was the first time I was able to do this, so this was great progress. As I was doing the TTouches, I was also consciously letting Reiki flow through both hands.

I tried using a thin dowel about a foot and a half long w/a bit of Ace bandage wrapped around it, and he was pretty comfortable as I stroked his back and rolled it a bit down his back. Again, it felt like real progress for him to be comfortable with this. I also tried TTouching him with the back of the hand of a plastic back scratcher, but this seemed to scare him a bit, I think the size of the tool was too big to him.

Later on, after Rebecca and I spoke for a bit, Krishna really seemed to know that this meant that they would be going away soon, so he started to get pissy with Rebecca, trying to attack her feet a bit. Then he went over to his blanket on the couch, one of his cozy places. After he was there for a few minutes, I went and sat down on the couch, a couple of feet away from him and began to send him Reiki. I could see him start to calm down again, grooming a bit.

Then I began to do some TTouches on him, using the paintbrush. I could see him being calmed by these, so I slowly worked my hand down the paintbrush and began to do some raccoon TTouches on his head directly using my hand. Occasionally I would go back to using the paintbrush if he seemed like he was starting to get a bit unsure. He started relaxing into the TTouches done with my hand, and so I did some more around his head area, going down the back of his head and around the back of his neck area. He seemed quite relaxed there, til he suddenly became unsure and jumped off the couch - so that taught me that next time I need to keep this part (doing TTouches with my hand) a bit shorter - but I felt that we made really great progress today. I do believe that, given time, he will get more and more used to contact with people other than Rebecca, it will just take continued time and patience on everyone's part. Rebecca said that she has been regularly doing TTouches with Krishna, and now Tim is also regularly doing TTouches with Krishna as well, so this is all good. In addition to the TTouches being calming for Krishna, they will help him to be more comfortable, as he has a congenital hip issue. So I'm sure it will maximize his potential for comfort and mobility as well.

Look forward to seeing you soon, little guy, for some cat-sitting, Reiki and more TTouch!

Peaceful Moments with Jinx: TTouch and Reiki, Nov 2

Today I went to work with my friend Jordyn Thiessen's (http://dancingminddesigncom) cat Jinx. He has been having trouble using his back legs, most likely due either to a disk problem or a tumor. He can get around, but the back legs are wobbly and sometimes collapse. I have been working with him with TTouch and Reiki to help him to feel comfortable, and in hopes of maximizing whatever connection is possible through the neural pathways, as TTouch communicates with the nervous system.
Today, as I usually do, I started out with Reiki from a short distance away, so as not to overwhelm him with too much energy. I first felt some heat around his heart and solar plexus chakras, so focused the energy there for a while, and then sent him energy around the area of his hips and legs.
After this, he went and ate for a little bit, then walked up and down hall. I took this opportunity to do some zigzag TTouches crossing over his back and down his legs, and then some connected TTouches working down either side of his back and down his legs. I also did a bit of energy work focusing the energy through my fingers just barely touching him, going down either side of his spine.

After this, Jinx relaxed again on on his bed. At this point I was able to do some energy work touching him very lightly. First I did energy work with my hands very slowly working down one of his back legs, followed by some TTouches on the and the paw. He was extremely relaxed at this point. He then, without any prompting from me, turned over so I could work on his other leg. It is so interesting how, most often, animals will shift their body until your hands are where they feel they need the work. After working on the other hind leg, I very slowly started doing energy work on either side of his spine (my fingers just barely touching him) and then down his tail, as the tail is really an extension of the cat's spine and has so much of a role in their balance. I then worked slowly down either side of his spine again. Keep in mind that the TTouches were done with extremely light pressure, and the energy work was all done with my fingers just barely touching his skin, so I was not pressing into his body. However I did feel as though the energy was pulling my hands into his body, even though my fingers were remaining barely resting on the skin. With energy work it most often really feels like I merge with the animal in the midst of the session, then at the session we become separate entities again.
Throughout this whole process he became more and more relaxed, stretching his back out as I went and becoming more and more peaceful. I could feel the energy in the room become more peaceful as well as I worked. Jordyn's other cat and dogs were also resting at this point, her dog Petey at my feet. Thanks so much all! and look forward to seeing you soon.