Morgan, an orange male, was seven when Gwen rescued him from a garage. She asked me to do a session to help him relax and build his self esteem. A few weeks later she had potential adopters visit Morgan at a neighbor's apartment where he was in temporary residence. There was one very gracious and elegant lady who fell in love with Morgan's looks. But he would have none of it. Morgan turned his back on his admirer and plopped himself in front of the computer to saturate himself with HIS continuous, musical therapy link. which included flute music, hump-back whales, random affirmations and other ocean sounds. This was his security object from his session.
This became his routine whenever someone came to see him. But maybe Morgan was on the right track. His therapeutic musical link did increase his self esteem. It softened his demeanor and his temporary home turned into a permanent home. Now six years later, he lives with his guardians in San Francisco. He's l3 and the hit of many a social gathering and dinner. Everyone loves Morgan.
There are ways in which a cat's impaired senses can be aided.
Lucky - hearing impaired
Lucky is a 20 year old who no longer is able to hear but she responds to loud vibrations on the floor and sometimes to the sound of a whistle or loud bell. Of course, this perky, gray tiger cat is sound- selective in her response. If it's a signal for dinner or a brushing, she wobbles her way over chop-chop. Otherwise, it may be a toss-up. Sight impaired Angel is a young female who was blind at birth. But, Andrea, her sister, became her surrogate or guardian eyes. Whenever Angel made the wrong move, Andrea would let out a shrill meow.
Angel - sight impaired, has a surrogate
If Angel was in serious danger, Andrea would run over to her and with her head, butt her out of harm's way. She even allowed Angel to eat first and would sleep beside her at bedtime. Their guardians were careful not to rearrange the furniture but when there was a new addition, they would carefully introduce Angel to its whereabouts.
Andrea - Angel's guardian eyes
One of my suggestions was to always keep the two cats together -- even when Andrea needed a visit to the vet. Fortunately, the vet was usually able to make a home visit. A cat that's impaired in one sense may be well endowed in another. Angel couldn't see but her hearing was keen to compensate for her handicap. She was very responsive to music and loved to curl up beside the computer, listening to her personalized musical link.
** A Break-Through for Mr. Fox Orion was full of whisker waves with news of Mr. Fox's break-through during a session I did with Mr. Fox and his cat-mates.
Generally, Mr. Fox, although the senior cat, takes a low profile role while Ivan and Satchell are front and center. But this time Mr. Fox became the mover and shaker -- the fitness pro. When I presented the Kitty Sprinkles toy (filled with Catnip Garden Nip) Mr. Fox pawed and chased the sprinkles while his cat-mates watched in almost wonder. When Mr. Fox had finished his fitness feat, he joined his cat-mates to roll and ingest the nip filled tissue paper. Mr. Fox's break-through will be the catalyst for others.
** Play -- The Tie That Binds This trio had fun with their toy therapy and showed their guardians that community play was the tie that binds. As the cats focused on play, the ripple effect of this fun feeling quashed out their rivalry feuds. They each had a fun diversion to occupy their thoughts and actions. Click on the names to see the video.
During his recent Reiki and fitness fun session, Hamlet rocked with his current choice of toys. These sessions give him a brisk athletic change of pace from his gig as official greeter at the Algonquin's front desk and perpetual foodie.
"Go Hamlet," said one of the guests. "Good to see him in action."
Orion sends a tail wave to Hamlet's mobility.
** Hello Kitty Float
My two cats -- Marcus??
I recently had a phone consult with Devon, a new cat guardian, who told me how she was particularly fascinated by her cat's uncanny ability to sense something before it actually happened. One morning as she sat and listened to music, one of her cats napped on her lap. As she started to stroke his head, his brother showed up from downstairs where she had left him sound asleep. "He showed up because he didn't want to miss out on any affection. He couldn't see anything but yet he knew. How could he do that?" said Devon.
"It's because he can sense actions through energy shifts -- and sometimes even before it actually happens."
And his brother
"Yes, he doesn't even have to see what it is. He can feel it. This is because a cat is a born medium for changes in surrounding energy fields. As you started to stroke your other cat's head, the energy changed. I think of this as a gift that I call "cat sense". ' It's quite a gift," Devon said. "I wish I had some of that gift."
"We humans do have some of that ability but we tend to intellectualize our feelings and talk ourselves out of what we sometimes instinctively feel," I said. "A cat definitely scores high on emotional intelligence." "I'm reminded of how sometimes my two cats will appear when I'm frustrated about something. It's like they' ve read my thoughts," said Devon. "Yes, and they want you to reach a solution because your angst is interfering with their agenda," I said. "Your cats are usually quite an accurate barometer of your feelings." "It sure looks that way," Devon said. "Fortunately, they're not judgmental and if they do get miffed, they forget and forgive quickly."
A Feral Kitten -- An Ideal Match For An Aggressive Cat
He was a feral black kitten that I had originally adopted for Sunny-Blue, my Siamese, reformed attack cat. Sunny needed feline companionship from a cat who wouldn't cramp his style with people. That's what Sunny wanted and that's exactly what Sunny got. Because Star-Dust was a feral kitten who preferred cats to people. Sunny was his mentor. Wherever Sunny hung out, Star-Dust would be right beside him. People were the exception. Whenever I had company, whereas Sunny would greet them by the elevator and escort them to my apartment, Star-Dust would take cover. This was ideal because Sunny adored people and he didn't want to share the attention. Star-Dust was more than satisfied to receive all of his attention from his Sunny.
The devoted duo
Sunny, The Role Model Yes, Star-Dust was very low maintenance for me. Unlike Sunny, a very talkative Siamese, Star-Dust was the silent type. Sunny would even give a cry at bedtime to let me know he was waiting. He adorned my pillow and Star-Dust at first slept under the bed. But that didn't last long. Within two weeks of his arrival, he surfaced and opted for the foot of my bed. He eventually slept next to Sunny who was beside me. I combed Sunny every morning with a teasing comb (which he preferred to a rubber brush), that I would moisten with water to keep the fur from flying. It wasn't long before Star-Dust sat beside Sunny so he could be combed next.
Because Sunny needed a companion who preferred him to me, I didn't work at trying to tame or socialize Star-Dust. Sunny was his role model, so Star-Dust was able to integrate and copy-cat what he could and would tolerate. Theirs was the relationship of relationships! Without Sunny They lived together for eight years until Sunny passed on of renal failure. My poor, dear Sunny! I would miss Sunny's snaggle teeth from his street faring days, his beautiful blue eyes, big cheeks and most of all his exquisite sensitivity to all that I felt. But now he was over the rainbow and at peace. Enough about me. I was sure Star-Dust would need a Sunny replacement. No question, he had sensed Sunny's discomfort long before I did, so Sunny's absence wasn't a total shock. But how could he manage without his Sunny? I found out very quickly. When, I returned home without Sunny, he stared at me but kept a healthy distance. I talked to him and turned on one of their therapy cassettes and cried. "I'll feel better after I cry," I said to Star-Dust, through my tears.
Bedtime arrived and shortly after my head hit the pillow, Star-Dust adopted Sunny's place beside me. That was to be his new m.o. and what a brave move for a feral cat. He was chipping away at his fear of intimacy. The next morning he ate his breakfast, nibbled on his cat grass and later took his place beside my bed for his combing. So far so good! I decided to give it a day at a time before I put out feelers for another cat. Did Star-Dust want to be the only cat? If so, this would be unprecedented for me. I had always been a two cat guardian. But if Star-Dust wanted to be a single cat, I would be guided by his choice.
Star-Dust Makes A Statement Sunny had always assisted me when I recorded my daily cat tip on my message machine. After the tip I would say: "Isn't that right Sunny?" and he would let out a Siamese meow. Without Sunny, I didn't think I'd be able to keep up the tradition. But one day I decided that I owed it to my cat practice to carry on. As I started to speak, Star-Dust climbed up on a chair beside me. I decided to follow his cue, so when I got to the end of my tip, I said: "Isn't that right Star-Dust?" He responded with a Siamese meow. I managed to say thank you without falling from my chair. The next morning was a repeat. Somehow he had, selectively, inherited Sunny's meow. He took over where Sunny left off. What a cat! Now and again someone would mention they didn't realize Star-Dust was Siamese. Imagine their surprise when I told them about Star-Dust's inheritance.
Increased Contact Tolerance Very slowly but surely, Star-Dust's contact tolerance increased. I could snuggle with him at bedtime because that's when my body was most relaxed and non-threatening. He also made some advances during the day. He would now sit next to me or even on my lap. Now I was able to stroke him with my hand. Whereas, before I would have to stroke him with my foot. He accepted my foot because it couldn't get a grip on him. He was usually invisible to my company. But there were exceptions. He showed up for low key people, especially if they hung around for awhile.
Familiarity My sister Gail (Mutrux) was one of his favorites because we share similar characteristics. Familiarity is high on a feral cat's list of acceptance. But sometimes it can be a source of confusion. Whenever I visited my sister Gail, my presence presented a conundrum for their feral cat Bugsy. She became plugged into a state of approach/avoidance. She was drawn to me because of my resemblance to Gail but withdrawn, when she realized I wasn't Gail.
Love of Play As with so many feral cats, Star-Dust had an inborn, instinctive love of play. It may be because he could expend his energy in a free-wheeling, non-threatening way. Play doesn't involve human contact. Perhaps it was the lack of domestication that allowed Star-Dust to live to play.
Star-Dust and I lived together for four more years before another cat, who so much resembled his late Sunny Blue moved in with us.
Sleeping is a time of intimacy, one with few interruptions. Your body is at rest, relaxed and tension is at its lowest. Even your shy, elusive cat may tuck in with you at bedtime because your energy is low key and non-threatening. So It’s not unusual for a cat’s behavior to go over the edge when this habit is changed.
Daisy misses her bedroom time
Daisy is a cat who had always slept with her guardians. This all changed when their baby was born. It wasn’t long before Daisy had bouts of coughing and irregular breathing. A vet check revealed borderline asthma, and Daisy was started on medication. Her guardians emailed me in hope that I could come up with a solution so Daisy could feel better. When I asked if Daisy slept with them, they replied “No more”. Daisy used to sleep in their room. Now the baby's crib was in the room and they shut the door because they didn’t want Daisy to go into the baby’s crib. Someone had told them that a cat could carry germs to a baby and to keep Daisy out of the bedroom.
I told them that they probably brought more germs in from outdoors than Daisy could transfer to the baby and they could cat-proof the baby’s crib so Daisy couldn’t climb in.(http://www.babycribsafetynet.com) A wireless baby monitor would alert them to any sounds in the bedroom when they weren’t with her. (http://www.intercomsonline.com/Wireless-Baby-Monitor_a/166.htm)
Back In The Bedroom
I explained that Daisy’s bedroom banishment had traumatized her, and the anxiety had triggered her medical problem. Well they decided to give my treatment plan a try. Daisy’s readmission to the bedroom was a winner for everyone. She reclaimed her spot in between them on the bed and had no interest in the crib. Their baby smiled and cooed when she noticed Daisy on their bed.
Back where she belongs
The best news was that Daisy’s borderline asthma gradually disappeared, along with her medication.
Goodbye to bedroom angst, and hello to a happy family.
Blood curling cries and the scent of urine were the beginning signs of a fall-out between Spanky and Henny — two senior cats. Their guardians quickly realized that Spanky was the aggressor and arranged for me to make a house call.
Case History and Catnip Time
Spanky wants what he wants, when he wants it
Shortly after I turned on the music and settled down on their sofa, Spanky, a solid gray cat, walked over and stretched out by my feet. He looked up at me as if to say, “Here I am, what can you do for me?” I reached down and stroked his head and he continued to stare. But when I sprinkled some catnip on the floor, his whiskers immediately plumed out, along with his tail and he gobbled up the nip. I sprinkled some more on some tissue paper beside him and Henny, an orange tabby, appeared from the stairway. I immediately put down a second sheet of catnip sprinkled tissue paper to keep it even Steven. Then Spanky looked my way so I quickly gave him some more of the nip.
Henry usually lets Spanky take the lead
As the two cats concentrated on their stash and stretched out on the tissue paper, I continued with their case history. Spanky, the oldest, was Nancy’s cat and Henny was Elaine’s. The two women were sisters and their elderly mother lived on the bottom floor of their three story brownstone.
They’ve Drifted Since Their Blow-Up “Spanky loves to be front and center,” said Nancy, as he rolled over and looked her way. “That’s so very true, whereas my Henny is more low key and doesn’t mind if Spanky always has to be first,” said Elaine.
Nancy went on to say how their relationship usually worked. “They usually groomed each other, slept and hung out together. Ever since their big blow-up, they’ve drifted, and lately Henny spends a lot of time by himself.”
New Bed Partners
“What about the sleeping arrangements?” I said. “Henny used to sleep in the living room and occasionally with Elaine but he’s been sleeping with me for the last couple of months,” said Nancy. “ And Spanky?” I said
“He only slept with me occasionally so I didn’t think he’d care if Henny slept with Nancy. “Sometimes Spanky would join me at bedtime but not lately,” said Elaine.
Blurred Boundaries I asked a few more questions and also discovered that Spanky used to occasionally sleep with their mother but now Henny spent more time downstairs with her. “Ye gads we have blurred boundaries," I said and explained that “bedtime” was a “big time” together session for most cats and apparently theirs. Maybe Spanky didn’t always choose to sleep with Nancy but no way did he want to have Henny there. As time went on his gripe grew and the blow-up was Spanky’s communication of his discontent. He let Henny have it. Henny was now his tension target because he was the interloper.
Redefine Boundaries “So what do we do now?” said Nancy. “You redefine the boundaries so your cats know and feel who they’re number “1” with — who they can count on,” I said. I explained that Spanky should sleep with Nancy and Henny with Elaine. No switches! “But what if Spanky doesn’t sleep with me and Henny appears?” said Nancy. “You gently but firmly escort Henny and close your bedroom door ,” I said “Oh, I get it. I can take Spanky to bed with me and shut the door,” said Nancy. “Yes, and if he insists on leaving, shut the door behind him,” I said. Nancy nodded in agreement and Elaine said she’d do the same with Henny and also shut her mother’s door at bedtime. “Cats, on principle, object to closed doors but your guys will gradually make the adjustment,” I said. The session ended with both cats asleep on the rug as their music played softly in the background.
Harmonious Sleep Time A few weeks later I did a follow-up session and WCBS-TV was there to film the progress. The boundaries had un-blurred. Each cat slept with his respective guardian at will.
It didn’t happen immediately but now the cats knew what to expect sleep-wise and Spanky had even groomed Henny. This was a first since their blow-up.
HAMLET'S GIG -- THE OFFICIAL GREETER
“There you are Hamlet,” I said, as I approached the Algonquin Hotel’s front desk. He was curled up in his cat tree house — but deigned to slightly open one eye to greet me.
Evidently, this was time out from his spot on the front desk as official greeter. (See September Blog and scroll through to Hamlet Has Officially Come Out).
I was there to give him a Reiki treatment which included some fitness fun. Two months ago Hamlet settled in as the hotel’s resident cat and I gave him Reiki treatments to ease and enhance his transition. These treatments are now a tradition for Hamlet — a recovering feral rescue and now “working cat”. Read More (Scroll down to Matilda’s Swan Song And Legacy to Hamlet)
As I talked to the hotel staff and waved a glitter ball with feather string fling, Hamlet very slowly made his way down to the front desk. From his previous sessions I knew Hamlet couldn't resist this glitter ball "intervention".
Hotel guests pointed their cell phones Hamlet's way as he lunged after the ball. One of the guests told me how Hamlet was a surrogate for her cat whom she hadn't seen in several days. Matilda, the former resident cat, was the original catalyst for her choice of The Algonquin.
"Looking good," said another guest. "Sign him up."
We ended the session on a lunch note. One of Hamlet’s staff had his lunch ready. And he is a foodie, not an anomaly for a recovering feral from the streets — where every meal is eaten as the last supper. Yes, food is on Hamlet’s very short list, but like many a rescued cat, he has this innate ability or desire to please, call it gratefulness. But because he is a cat, and a cat is a cat, he can be very contrary — why not? All the same, I instinctively want to hug him, but I remind myself that I am his therapist and Reiki practitioner, so I should be a tad reserved.
A few days after my session with Hamlet I received word that Matilda suddenly went into renal failure, and the emergency veterinary hospital was unable to prolong her life. Matilda, Hamlet’s predecessor, had recently retired to her forever home in Minnesota. But her retirement was so very brief.
She will long be remembered, and we’re all so very grateful that she was surrounded by love in her last moments. I sent distant Reiki to Matilda and relived my farewell visit with her at the Algonquin before she left for her retirement to Minnesota.
ORION AND HIS HALLOWEEN BLACK CATS
Wish you and your animal companion(s) lots of spooky spunk!!!