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

No comments:

Post a Comment