Friday, December 30, 2011

Luigi Teaches me about TTouch with a Hairbrush

Recently I was in San Francisco, visiting my mother and sister and, of course, my sister's wonderful cats, Zoe and Luigi (pictured above). Luigi reminded me once again of how individual cats are as to their tastes! It turns out that one of the textures he really responds to is that of a large hairbrush (made for humans), the type with a rubber base and plastic bristles, as shown here. Many cats prefer something less intense, but he is a big, strong, cat. You can see a youtube clip of this here

I began to brush him with it and then began to do circles with it, going down his back, which was very relaxing for him. I also found that brushing forward to back with the brush on his head was extremely relaxing for him. Please keep in mind that the TTouches I was doing were still using a light pressure, just enough pressure to move the skin around in a circle and a quarter. I didn't push into him with the brush.
As you can tell from these pictures, he was clear in his communiication that this is extremely relaxing for him! xo

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Update on Tuco at BARC Shelter: Slowly Learning to Trust

Tuco is a beautiful kitten who was brought into BARC shelter some weeks ago by the police. She had apparently been abused by people who had hit her in the face. She has received veterinary care and a lot of love and attention from the BARC vets, staff and volunteers. I have been working with her very gently to help her to learn to trust people again. Other staff and volunteers have given her a lot of attention as well. She has been gradually coming out of her shell, which is amazing to see.
She will still start out a bit tentative, as you can see by the above photo, but now with me she will often walk right up to the front of the cage. Understandably, a big hurdle for her to deal with has been her fear of a hand coming towards her face or head. I may start out by doing some llama ttouches (circular ttouches with the back of my hand) along the sides of her body, but she has also gotten comfortable with circular TTouches with the back of my finger (actually my fingernail) on her forehead or the top of her head, as well as straight strokes going down the sides of her back. The back surfaces of our hands are less intense than the front, so usually I will at least begin with the back surfaces of my hand when working with her.

The past couple of times I have worked with her she has started doing something new. She has started pushing her head up into my hand (either the back of the hand or the front of the hand). I then will continue the stroke gently going down her back (using either the back or front of my hand). Once in a while she may get uncertain and get ready to swat at me (she has not been using her nails with me though, even when she does swat), so I will move away from her if I see her start to do that, then wait a moment and try again. It is wonderful to feel her moving forward into my hand rather than being tentative or moving away.

Sometimes she will still retreat to the back of the cage, but usually will shortly thereafter come to the front of the cage again, curious about what will happen next. I give her little breaks in between our moments of contact, so she doesn't feel crowded.

It is so important to remain in the moment and read the body language of fearful kittens and cats, to be respectful of what they are ready to do.
She has come a long way, and I think she just needs time and patience to continue to come around at her own pace. See you soon, Tuco! xo

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update on Pip, Oliver, and.... Welcome Izzy!

Above: Oliver, left, Pip, right, Izzy is actually in the dark blue bed but is in shadow so you can't see her :)
Hi folks, a while back I posted about working with Pip and Oliver - Pip was the first cat brought into the household and a few months later, Oliver was brought into the household. I worked with the people and the cats, sharing different techniques for helping the cats get acclimated to each other in a non-threatening way. Both cats can tend to be insecure in their own ways, so a lot of TTouches, treats, and in Oliver's case, a wrap, have been incorporated into this process :)
(below, Oliver in a TTouch half-wrap)

Sarah and Chris have been working very diligently and carefully with the cats, and the situation has become much more comfortable. They were keeping Pip and Oliver in separate rooms for a while, and now everyone is all together. And, most recently, a new kitty was brought into the household - a sweet female kitten named Izzy, who seems to be a positive influence in the household, breaking up the tension that can build between the two boys. Following is a recent clip of the three cats. Pip (the grey and white kitty) looks very at ease, and doesn't seem to care that Oliver is in close proximity to him. Oliver, the tabby, is still tentative, sitting under a stool, but is comfortable enough to be very close to Pip. This is great progress. And as for Izzy, she is just chilling out in her bed.
and following is a more recent clip, with everyone chilling out:
Great job, one and all! xo

Thursday, December 15, 2011

TTouch at BARC Shelter with Quinn: Contact

Quinn is a beautiful big cat who is extremely wary of humans, and seems to be wary of other cats as well. When he gets frightened or irritated, his most usual response is to yell and swat very hard. He was dumped at the shelter some months back, and I have made gradual but steady progress with him. I have also showed some of the volunteers how to make contact with him using a tool such as the plastic back scratcher or paintbrush shown in this post. It really makes a difference to have a number of people working with him. Now, unless you work with him past his tolerance level, he generally will settle into it. And, if he does decide to swat, the swat will generally reach the tool and not your hand.

After a while of making contact with Quinn using the back scratcher, doing little circular TTouches and strokes around his head area, I found him to be particularly relaxed and in a sleepy mode. As I was a bit nervous about going to the next step, I made sure that my breath was really flowing and that I was as relaxed as I could be. I was sending him very gentle energy, and doing my best to quiet my mind. Gradually I worked my hand down the back scratcher and began to do some circular TTouches using the back of the tip of my finger, as shown here and in the next photo below.

His eyes were still closed and sleepy, so I continued for a few moments. I wasn't sure how he would react once he felt the change from the plastic to the warmth of my finger, but I actually was feeling him relax into my touch. So as not to push the issue too much, I then switched back to using the back scratcher again.

The next photos are from a week or so later. Recently I have found that he seems to be even more receptive to the feel of the paintbrush than he was to the back scratcher, and now I will actually feel him rubbing more actively into the touch, as though he really is enjoying it. I let him sniff the paintbrush first, and often now he will start to rub the side of his face against it.

And, this time he was sitting right in the front of his cage, instead of being way at the back of his cage, which used to be his normal place. Very often, these days, he will be hanging out towards the front of his cage. He got extremely sleepy as I was working with him, and laid his head down, so I gently began stroking him and doing circular TTouches using the back of my hand, as shown below. It was so wonderful to feel and see him so relaxed.

In my mind's eye, lately I keep picturing him climbing out onto my lap and settling there. I told him that is my New Year's resolution for him. Love ya, Quinn!!

Thawing a Shy Cat: Lord Greystoke

Lord Greystoke is a beautiful grey and white who arrived at BARC shelter after his owners were evicted. He was terrified at first, cowering in the back of the cage, looking as though he was frozen in that position. When I first opened his cage, he hissed at me, so I started out by doing gentle TTouches with him using a paintbrush. He began to relax his body, and as I went along, I gradually began to work my hand down the paintbrush til I was touching him with my hand. Very slowly he began to stretch out his body a bit and did a few sighs, really letting go. When I see those sighs that look like the animal is finally really letting go, it touches my heart so much.
From then on I found that I could touch him directly with my hand. Each day he has responded a little more and a little more, first by rubbing his face and head against my hand, then his body against my hand, as I was doing circular TTouches and gentle strokes on his head and body. Sometimes I would bring his food bowl from the front of the cage to where he was, and he was very comfortable eating in my presence. Initially I was doing a lot of TTouches using the back of my hand, as that is less intense than the front of my hand, but now I can do all of the types of TTouches with him.
Often he especially responds to TTouches around the outside of the mouth area. The mouth area connects with the limbic system, which relates to the emotions, so this makes a lot of sense.

When I am working with him, I am completely in the moment with him, completely connected with his being, and try to imagine a bubble of light around us, to help him to feel safe.
Sometimes I would stop and send him Reiki for a few minutes, to help him to relax further.
A few days ago, he began to stand up and walk towards the front of the cage, which was a big step for him, as most of the time when people are around you see him lying down. He came all the way to the front of the cage and began to eat his food. Now when he sees me open his cage, he will usually get ready to stand up.

Yesterday he surprised me by rolling over onto his back and pushing into my hand for belly rubs. It is such a pleasure to see him become so much more comfortable, and I feel that soon he will start to be less frightened when unfamiliar people come into the shelter and want to interact with him. Yesterday he was also staying in the middle of his cage, rather than all the way at the back, which was a great step for him as well.
It is beautiful to see him really coming out of his shell, and to experience the gentle, loving being that he is.

TTouch and Reiki with Tuco: Learning to Trust

Tuco is a beautiful black kitten who the police brought to BARC shelter ( several weeks ago. She had been abused, apparently hit in the face, and the skin on her jaw was completely scraped off, and teeth knocked out as well. She has received medical attention from the wonderful vets BARC uses and a lot of TLC from everyone. She was understandably terrified of people at first, but she has been feeling more and more confident and comfortable each time I see her. I noticed that she often gets frightened when a hand is coming towards her, especially towards her head or face area, so sometimes I will touch her on her back first. But most recently what I have tried is just very gently touching the top of her head with the back of my fingers, doing the lightest strokes and circular TTouches. This seems to help her to be more receptive to the approaching hand, instead of swatting at it or moving away.
And, what has been wonderful to see is that often after doing some of these gentle touches with her, she will move forward on her own for more contact. Sometimes she moves forward, then retreats again initially, but then I touch her again very lightly, first on the head, then some gentle strokes down the body using the back of my hand (which is less intense than the front surface, and she will start to come forward again. The other day, when I took these pictures, she surprised me by leaning completely into my hand and arm, and pushing into me, then rolling on her back.

As you can see below, I am only using the back of my index finger (actually my fingernail) to do some gentle circular TTouches on her. I am just touching with enough pressure to move the skin around in a circle and a quarter, and I make the circles slower and slower, for a more relaxing effect. It is so important, too, to slow your own mind down before beginning to work with a frightened animal. Sometimes it is as if I hear my thoughts slow down like a record going at a slower speed.
Another thing I do with her if she starts to get into a mode where she wants to swat at me rather than have my hand make contact, is to stop for a few minutes, just sending her Reiki energy from a couple of feet away. When I do this, I see her body start to relax. She usually will lie down and her eyes get very sleepy. And then I will try again with some gentle TTouches.

The picture below was right after she had pushed her head up into my hand and was looking a bit surprised about doing that, I think! But you can see that her body posture is stretched out and relaxed in these pictures, not hunched up and tense.

Over the past couple of weeks, Tuco has realized she loves to play. Sometimes, as in the picture below, her facial expression looks as if the act of playing is a new discovery to her. It is so lovely to see her fear melting away and her true sweet, whimsical personality come forth. Many thanks to all those at BARC who have been so kind and understanding to her, as they are to all the animals at BARC. See you soon! xo

Monday, December 12, 2011

TTouch and Reiki Breakthrough with King Kong - A True Heart Connection

This is King Kong, a rescue kitty from the Mayor's Alliance who I have been working with for a while through Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue program. He had not been in the holding space for a while (possibly fostered), and then was returned recently. Since his return, he has been more shy with others than he had been before, and I had been told that often he wasn't coming out of his cage readily, as he had before. He has still been very friendly with me but when he comes out of his cage to make contact with me, generally he has been more interested in wandering about than in a lot of contact. and I was always a bit careful so as not to get him overstimulated. As he has seemed a bit on edge, I generally do TTouches with him using the back surfaces of my hand and fingers, as these Ttouches are less intense. I let him wander around, use the scratching post or play with a toy, then call him to me and he will come over, usually rubbing against my legs or against my hand as I do some Llama TTouches (circular TTouches using the back surfaces of my fingers) or chimp Ttouches (using the back surface of the middle section of the fingers) with him.

But today was really different. Sometimes I may be working with an animal at a certain level for a while, then one day our connection just clicks in a different way, and we move to a new level of connection.
I started out as I usually do, with llama TTouches and strokes using the back of my hand as he walks back and forth by me. Then he got a bit more settled, and I did some Reiki with him from a short distance, and I felt him much calmer than usual.
After sending him Reiki for a while, he just laid down calmly, and I began to do slow raccoon TTouches on his forehead. I felt him completely relaxed and totally in the moment with me and with the TTouches really settling into the peacefulness of the circular TTouches, closing his eyes, really letting go. I felt that direct heart connection that I often feel when some of the tension is able to truly fall away. Even the air and the space around us felt very quiet, just him and me connected and in the moment. He laid down next to me and stretched out, and we really connected on a much deeper level. It was beautiful to experience him truly relaxing and leting go. It was hard for me to leave today. When I leave, I always hold my hand up and send them energy and tell them I love them before I leave. Today he responded by waving goodbye to me, as you see here.
Love you, King Kong! xo

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Arrival of "Monster": and Calming Alice and the Gang

Today I went to work with Mari's cats, who I had not seen in a while. Some months ago, she had contacted me because her kitty Doris was terminally ill, so I did Reiki sessions with Doris to help her to be comfortable, and I was honored to be with Mari and Doris when it was time for Doris to transition.
Mari has four other cats: Spaz, Alice, Amanda and Buddy, and recently she took in a young kitty, affectionately named Monster. When Mari contacted me this time, she said that little Monster was stressing her other cats out! So I went to send Reiki to all the cats, and to see if I could help the environment start to feel a bit more harmonious.
Monster was recovering from steatitis, which had made him extremely sensitive to touch, so I proceeded very carefully with him (after this appointment, there were further tests and it was found he has an irregular spine with some lesions, at present he is on medication to help him). He was actually in a more relaxed mode when I got there, but he became even more sleepy and relaxed as I worked with him. I started out with raccoon TTouches around the head, then did some chimp and llama TTouches on his body, stopping whenever he flinched or seemed uncomfortable, and giving him a moment to relax. I also stopped to send Reiki to him at various points. He stretched out and got quite cozy on his bed.

Then I went to work with Alice (above). I started out with her doing Reiki from a short distance away, as she is a very shy, sensitive girl, and gets stressed very easily. Little by little, I got closer and closer to her.

Meanwhile, Buddy (above) came up on the bed too so I sent him Reiki with one hand and Alice from the other hand. At one point Amanda (below) came up on the windowsill behind me to receive some Reiki, and Mari was doing TTouches with one or another of the cats as I was working. I felt more and more heat from Alice as my hand got closer to her, and I felt it being pulled like a magnet to her. She relaxed and began to nap a bit. I felt my hand particularly being drawn to her midsection, the solar plexus area, which is about being safe, among other things. I felt her breathing slow down and her eyes, which are usually huge and very open, relax, and felt her abdomen relax into my hands. It was a wonderful surprise for this to happen, very often a cat who is so sensitive is too overwhelmed by hands-on Reiki, but the gradual approach seemed to give Alice the time she needed to acclimate herself to the intensity of the energy. At a couple of points, when Amanda was on the sill, I sent Reiki to her from one of my hands, and she did stop for a bit to receive it.

Then I went to work with Monster again for a while. He was sleepy, so I sent him Reiki, my hands just barely off his body. Amanda came up to see what we were doing. She seemed very curious about the energy, but not quite ready to settle into it for too long.

At the end of the session, I showed Mari how to apply the quarter-wrap and half-wrap, as one of these may be helpful in calming Monster and Alice, maybe Amanda as well. I told her to go gradually, and if it's too stressful for the cats, not to worry about it. Sometimes, though, it is just a matter of trying the wrap part way one time, then a little more the next time, etc. You can start out by just draping the folded wrap over the cat’s back, then proceed with the wrap little by little from there. If you don't have time to tie it, if they run away from you, that's ok, just calmly but quickly take it off of them before they have a chance to get tangled up in it, or start to play with it like it is a toy. On my youtube channel is a demo which shows several wraps for cats at
It is important to know that the wrap is not put on tightly at all, simply fitted to the body (you should be easily able to put fingers underneath it), so it should not put pressure on the spine.

Above are two pictures of me putting the wrap on Monster. He looks a bit unsure at first, wondering what I am doing? But he actually was quite receptive to having the wrap put on him. I put it on rather loosely and left it on only a minute or two, so that it would not be too overwhelming, that it just would give him a different sensation in his body.
Below is Spaz - I didn't have a chance to work on him directly today but he's a pretty chill guy anyway, and I think he did receive some Reiki indirectly as I sent it into the space. Thanks all, wish you well and look forward to hearing an update on this sweet gang soon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

TTouch, Reiki and Wraps with Jinx: November 30

Yesterday I went to work with Jordyn Thiessen's ( kitty Jinx. Jinx has been having mobility issues, either due to a disk problem or tumor, and has been having trouble using his back legs. Over the past few sessions, I have been using a TTouch half wrap, full wrap, and a bit of a candy cane wrap with him. Though he still clearly has trouble, and tends to bring the middle part of his back up and sort of swivel his hips to make his legs move, I have noticed that he does seem to use his back feet more than I had seen before, and he seems to be retaining some of that feeling without the wrap.

When I arrived at Jordyn's apartment, Jinx was very cute, it seemed as though he was showing off for me, showing me what he could do without the wrap on. There are steps which lead up to the bed, and Jinx climbed up and down these, really using the pads of his hind feet, instead of dragging the hind legs along. He did this both going up and down the steps, and did it several times during the session. He also walked up and down the apartment, using his legs quite well for him. Sometimes he loses the feeling and will drag the right hind leg a bit, the top of the foot dragging on the ground a bit, but overall he seems to be using his legs more completely than I observed a couple of weeks ago before we started using the wrap.

We went out in the hallway, which has long been a place where Jinx likes to go, and he enjoys walking up and down the hall. The minute we got out there he started purring and rubbing his head against the wall, and rubbing his head against my hand when I got near him. We used the half wrap (above two pictures and the one below),

as well as the full wrap, which I made by adding on to the half wrap and wrapping around each hind leg (sorry, no pics of that this week). We also tried using the back half of the wrap to do a kind of candy cane wrap around the two hind legs. I looped the second wrap through the back part of the half wrap and then wound each side around each hind leg, tying around the bottom. Not quite sure if this is an official TTouch configuration, but it did seem to help remind him of the feeling in the legs. I didn't leave it on long, as it seemed to be a bit much for him, but it felt like it was a good idea to try for a short bit, just to bring his awareness to the legs.

I was also intermittently doing some TTouches on him - connected circular TTouches going down his back, some TTouches going down his hind legs, etc. After several forays up and down the hall, I took him back into the apartment space. We did some walking work there too, then gave him some treats and a rest on his bed. While he sat on his bed, I did some Reiki with him, as well as some TTouches on his hind legs and feet. I did clouded leopard TTouches going down his hind legs, then some raccoon TTouches on his hind feet. I did even teeny tiny circles on his toes, and then held each toe one by one, doing the smallest possible circle with the toe. Trust me when I say it these were small circles with the toes, barely a movement at all. This work is very careful and subtle, but these subtle movements have the very powerful effect of helping to bring awareness of what is at the root of these movements, and ideally to retrain the body how to move in the most efficient manner, or to be as balanced as possible in any given situation, even one that may continue to be compromised.

The Reiki helped Jinx to be very calm and relaxed and he started to groom himself, seeming to tell me he was done. Thanks Jinx, look forward to seeing you soon!! xo