Wednesday, June 3, 2015

TTouch Class at the Homeless Cat Network


Hi folks! About five years ago, I did a TTouch class at the Homeless Cat Network, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The experience was wonderful!  Wonderful shelter and great people, not to mention all the amazing kitties, of course!  I have since kept in touch with dear friend Cookie McCrory, who organized the class, and I was pleased to be invited to teach there again two months ago (April).
Homeless Cat Network is a no-kill organization, and relies on its dedicated volunteers, who take care of the cats and help to socialize them as well.  A number of the volunteers have taken Reiki and/or TTouch classes, so that is terrific.  The cats at HCN have the opportunity to receive these calming modalities on a regular basis.  And a number of the people in the class are also involved with caring for feral cats and TNR as well as working with the animals at HCN. 
The cats were watching us!

The space is set up really well, with a number of large enclosures made from wood and chicken wire, with shelves, cozy beds, etc. for the cats' comfort.  A few cats live in each enclosure, so they have much more space than if they were in a cage.  If a cat does not get along with others or has a health issue, then they are housed in a cage, but primarily the cats are in these enclosures.  And they also have a schedule to give the cats time out of the enclosures so they can roam around in the middle part of the room.

TTouches with Candy
We sat in a circle in the room for the class.  Everyone was so attentive, and had really great questions for me as I went along.

TTouches with Candy (Nani to my right)
Beautiful pastel calico Candy was a splendid demo kitty for me, and she calmed into my lap as I worked with her, sitting calmly even when I was not doing TTouches on her.
TTouches with Gianna
I think that it is so important for people to really get a feeling for that basic circular TTouch, the clouded leopard TTouch.  Once you have a sensation of how that feels, it is easier to try the many variations on it (using different surfaces of your hand, different pressure, different tempo, etc).
 TTouches with Katie and Rosie
I went around to each person and had them do TTouches on my arm to make sure they were clear on how to do them.  Common mistakes are to slide your hand over the skin, instead of moving the skin; making too big of a circle; going too fast; or keeping your fingers too stiff.  Some people who have arthritis or other issues may have trouble being flexible in their hands, but in that case it can be good to try a TTouch with the back of your hand such as the Chimp TTouch.  Even if your hand can't be as flexible as you may like, there are still ways to do the TTouches that will feel as though you are breathing and flowing with the TTouches.  Everyone did a great job!
TTouches with Gayle
I also stressed in the class how important it is to quiet yourself and just focus on being in the moment with the animal.  Once the animal feels that you are really there with them, amazing things can happen.

Showing a Body Wrap
In addition to showing the TTouches, I also showed how to do a basic body wrap, using a soft fleece material that I have found can at times be more acceptable to cats than the ace bandage.  Body wraps can be a bit tough to use with cats as they are not used to having anything put on their body, but for certain types of insecure personalities and definitely for cats with mobility issues, it can be quite effective.
Working with Lovey
I worked briefly with Lovey, who can be rather pulled in and scared, and she was quite receptive to TTouches with the paintbrush.  I actually was using the stick end of the paintbrush, as you can see.  Use caution when working around the head with anything sticklike, of course, as you don't want to go near their eyes.  In this photo, I was working around the outside of her mouth, which seemed to be a comfortable place for her.
Lovey relaxing
Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and I know that they will be using the TTouches on the shelter animals as well as their own animals or other rescue animals who they may be working with.  Thank you HCN for all you do! and I look forward to hearing from all of you about how you are doing with the kitties!

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