Sunday, February 14, 2016

Slow and Steady with two Fearful Cats: Pearl and Georgi Girl (and a bit about Amy) at Bideawee Westhampton

Some months ago, I began to travel to Westhampton Bideawee to offer TTouch and Reiki to the cats there, in addition to volunteering at the facility in Manhattan.  This happened as a result of two Manhattan cats being transferred to Westhampton - but that is another story which I will explore at another time.
 Above: Pearl

As my heart particularly connects with feral and fearful cats, of course I was drawn to Pearl and Georgi Girl.
Above: Georgi Girl

Pearl and Georgi Girl were abandoned in carriers outside of the Adoption Center back in July. They were in separate carriers from one another and there was a note attached. The note said that the girls' original owner became ill and went to a nursing home and left the two cats behind with no one to care for them. The note was written by a neighbor who had taken over the responsibility of caring for them. The neighbor then had to move, and explained that the neighborhood was hostile towards cats, and they feared for the cats' lives if she left them behind. They provided the names, and a description of each of them, so the shelter could tell who was Georgi Girl, and who was Pearl. They wrote on the note "Please take care of us, you are our only hope."

Upon meeting the two girls, I could tell how scared they were.  And at the time, I did not know their whole story, and did not realize they had been in a home previously.  I just knew that they had been dumped at the shelter.  Actually I didn't know that they had previously been in a home until quite recently.  

So I thought that they were feral, because of their behavior.  They seemed so dazed and were afraid of anyone approaching them.  Yet I could tell right away that they are so gentle and sweet under the fear.  They remind me a great deal of my dear formerly-feral cats, Lulu and Natalia. 

Initially, they were in a cage, but fortunately the shelter soon had a nice room available for them to live in, where they have shelves to climb in, cozy hidey places to hang out, etc.
 TTouch with the handle of a paintbrush with Pearl

  Right away it became clear that Pearl was the less shy of the two - she would allow just a tiny bit of touch.  She was wary of tools as well as hands, so I kept switching up the tool that I was using with her.  Sometimes it was a paintbrush, sometimes a toothbrush, sometimes the handle of a paintbrush.  Sometimes she preferred a hand to a tool.  
 TTouch with a toothbrush with Pearl
But it was in tiny increments of just a few seconds.  I would let the Reiki flow the whole time I was there, so that she and Georgi Girl could feel the calming energy. I could see both of them relaxing their eyes and their bodies with the energy.  

I also spoke to them in a gentle, slow, calm voice, and they both respond to that as well.  

I have tried to connect with Georgi Girl with the tools, and touching her with a tool is still too scary for her, so I most often will work with her with Reiki, and with "Air TTouches".  I do the air TTouches either with a tool or with my hand, quite far away from Georgi Girl, sometimes even several feet or more away.  I do the circular motion of a TTouch, and then usually a pause or slide.  And my internal feeling, intention and energy is as though I were touching her.  And I feel that connection with her as I do it, that our energies connect.  It is a very definite feeling.  And I can see her respond as I am "touching" her.
 Georgi Girl
Here is a video which shows some of the processes I have done with these two kitties:

In the first part of the video, you see me connecting with Pearl with gentle play.  This can be a great way to help shift the dynamic with a cat if they are afraid to be touched at first.  And it is always done so it is at their comfort level.  Pearl didn't want to come out of her cave just yet, so I let her just reach for the mouse from where she was.
Another great tool to use with Pearl was treats, Temptation Treats in the yellow package, to be more specific.  I found right away that she is very treat-motivated.  Little by little I was able to urge her to come closer to me for the treats, even to come out of the cave.  And in later sessions, she would come right out of the cave for the treats.  As she grew comfortable with this, I was able to touch her occasionally while she was eating.  Mostly, she was too hesitant to do that though.
But Pearl did start to be more receptive to touch in general, just a tiny bit at a time.  I would do literally just a few TTouches or strokes under her chin, or on the side of her face, then give her a break, then try again in a while.
Above: Georgi Girl

Georgi Girl is too afraid to play, or to take treats, or to let me touch her still, but is continuing to respond to air TTouches and Reiki at a distance, and her face looks more open when I see her now, rather than being terrified that I am in the room.

Amy and me
For a short time, there was an orange and white senior kitty named Amy who was in their room.  Amy had just recently arrived at the shelter (she was surrendered by her owner who is in poor physical condition and couldn't care for her), and so she was scared to be there, but loves people.  

I immediately made a connection with Amy, and she has a REALLY loud purr.  So when I came in the room, the room would resonate with Amy's purr.  

Though Amy and the girls did not appear to want to have much to do with each other, I think there was something about Amy purring and being so comfortable that helped them.  

One day I sat on a couch in the room, with Amy near me, purring away, and the other kitties in their respective cozy places, and I felt such a positive and peaceful feeling throughout the room, connecting all of us.  Calm music was playing on the radio, adding to the beautiful feeling of unity and connection. 

I had been working very steadily and gradually with the girls, and was really happy with their progress, but nothing prepared me for the breakthrough that happened a couple of weeks ago with Pearl.
I entered their room and saw right away that the cave beds had been removed, probably to clean them.  I wondered if they were scared not to have them in there, but Pearl was out and about, and when I said hi to her, she came up to me, purring, and began to rub her head against my hand.  After she did this for a minute, she would get momentarily scared and run away, but then if I called to her again, she would come up to me again and rub and purr.  

It is hard to describe in words the joy one can feel when that beautiful kind of connection can happen, when an animal really trusts you, when you feel that you have been able to reach through the fear and touch the heart of another being.  It has to be one of the most beautiful things that one can experience.

It is interesting, too, that Pearl was now responding to the type of voice that I had been using with Amy.  Instead of a really quiet voice, it was a happy friendly voice, like "hey Pearlie! what's going on Pearlie? such a good girl", that kind of thing.  Not a loud voice, but an enthusiastic happy voice.  I had started using that voice with Amy when I first met her, just intuitively.  It worked, and just felt right.  And now, it seemed that Pearl was ready for that kind of voice. 
Please do have a look at the video embedded in this post, and if you have any trouble accessing it, it is on my youtube channel, 
direct link is

I look forward to seeing these girls again soon, and to my continued work with them.  They are such beautiful, gentle souls.  It is such a delight to see Pearlie actually enjoying contact with me.  

I feel that it is only a matter of time, patience, and continued love and work with Georgi Girl before she follows Pearl in feeling comfortable with being touchedUsually when there is one in a pair that starts to feel more comfortable, it will help the other to come along, at least to the extent they are able. And in the meantime I will give her all the time and space she needs for that.
Thank you so much Bideawee.  It is a pleasure and honor to work with the dear animals in your shelters, and thank you so much for taking these dear girls in and for all the love and care you show to the animals. xoxo

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