Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 2013

(AKA Cats on the Couch)

For a better view Click
Dear Readers, 

Looking for a holiday movie?
A marmalade cat is one of the stars and raison d’etre for you to see the movie “Inside Llewyn Davis”.  Who knew the Coen Brothers could portray so powerfully how a cat can define and shape a person’s life?  

The Coens even include the visual mention of the movie “The Incredible Journey”, a classic from 1963, about two cats and a dog who manage to find their way back home -- a 300 mile journey. It’s a movie for the whole family. I remember when I took my late cat, Sunny-Blue, a therapy cat, to a support group where we watched “The Incredible Journey, with Sunny on a patient’s lap. Sunny was the cure for this person’s cat phobia.

Whatever you decide to do for the holidays, have fun and hug and hug your cat/s for the New Year!

Carole’s Take on Oscar The Cat Who .....  


My Orion is clearly a snow watcher, but his game is to be a snow catcher.

And your cat?


In my November Blog, fifteen-year old cat, Christmas, was traumatized by a routine visit to the vet. He had since camped out for four weeks on a cabinet in the kitchen where he stayed put -- except to dash to the litter box-- so I devised a treatment plan to chip away at his post traumatic stress disorder.

When a producer from WCBS-TV News contacted me about a segment on depression in cats and dogs and wondered if I had an appropriate case, I felt Christmas was a perfect candidate. He was still in recovery, but the acknowledgment and attention from the segment would increase his confidence and courage. It would be a “televised” therapy session. I arranged with the producer for the camera man to use a small camera so Christmas and his companions wouldn’t be panic stricken by the camera.

 Take a look at the segment to see Christmas in action.   
A little tentative, but despite the camera and two new people, he was present and accepted the special attention. He realized he was not in danger and with his calming music, the presence of his guardian, some Reiki placements ( and my guidance, he felt secure.  I had expected to do an extended session with Christmas after the segment, but his purring,  head bumping and relaxed body told me his televised session was a super plus. If his muscle memory relived any of his recent trauma at the vet, it was fleeting. Christmas had turned the corner. I continued to do phone consults by speaker phone so Christmas would be in on the action.  Two weeks later I received the following email from his guardians.

“We wanted to let you know that Christmas is doing great! He is now 100% back to his normal catsonality! He runs to greet us at the door, our constant shadow and constantly plays with his toys. He’s resumed his job as role model for his three cat companions and keeps Jenna dog in line.

But best of all,  yesterday Summer started to hang around Christmas again. You had told us that, Summer, once his best friend and admirer, had avoided him because she couldn’t deal with his angst. He felt like an alien cat, so she avoided him. Now that he’s recovered, she’s sure he’s the same Christmas that she can trust and love. It’s wonderful to have our white bookends back.

Last but not least, I will speak to Dr. Stramaglia in regard to Christmas’s diet and food alternatives for his early renal problem. Our entire family is ever so thankful for your support and expertise with Christmas’ recovery from PTSD."
Christmas on the left

Yes, Summer’s renewed relationship with Christmas is her seal of approval that he’s recovered and he’s her same old Christmas. Who could be a more  authentic barometer!

(Protect your cat from your holiday decorations)

Matriarchal Tina, who’s in her twentieth golden year is content to admire the Christmas tree and trimmings. Whereas, Lucky’s demeanor clearly vibrates “Let me at ‘em.
Lucky Warrior

So remember to protect your cat from the trimmings, and your trimmings from your cat -- especially, tinsel and feathers.  Let’s hope you don’t have to hang your tree from the ceiling, so your cat doesn’t ingest what could be a catastrophe.

Even a declawed cat appreciates a workout with a sturdy scratching post. Rufus is one of these cats. The post allows him to dig in with his back claws, and his huggable bod enjoys a luxurious stretch. I gave him a toy during his session which he immediately grabbed and continued to toss and chase around. Rufus was already declawed when recently adopted. His estimated age was five or six years so his guardians didn’t think he was interested in toys or working out. 

This discovery was a win-win for the three of them -- therapeutic fitness. A family that  hangs out and plays together, stays together.


(Indiscriminate Urination)

It’s not unusual for a younger cat to let go of anxiety and gradually feel better with an older cat’s camaraderie. Take a look at Wooster and Simon and their guardian’s

“Everything’s been great here since your visit. I think we’ve turned the corner. You told us that Simon’s shyness with visitors and periodic bouts of urinating in and about our apartment were symptoms of angst or PTSD. When you did a Reiki session with me and Wooster, you seemed to concentrate on Wooster instead of Simon. We asked why? You explained that Wooster was the mellow big brother, Simon’s role model. The better Wooster felt, the better for Simon. He would slowly mirror Wooster’s confidence and composure. 

What a difference! The four of us are more relaxed. We realize that Simon may have an occasional set back, but with the help of your behavioral tips and Wooster’s support, Simon will forge ahead. We do love our two rescues.”    

(Aggressive Cat Behavior)
“Gia loves me and her companion Tank, but she can be aggressive with my boyfriend and my friends. I always wanted Gia to like every one and for everyone to like Gia. But now I realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks for your insight and expertise,” said Ann.

It’s a natural feeling for us to want our cats to love and be loved by all. But some cats are selective with their feeling and actions because of their emotional make-up. Gia is one of these cats. What confused Ann was that Gia would bump against a friend’s leg or arm but often hissed or lashed out if they petted her. I explained to Ann that Gia became easily overstimulated. When this occurred she felt threatened and would resort to “fight” instead of “flight”.  I told Ann to tell her friends they could admire Gia but shouldn’t try to engage her even if she tried to seduce them. Ann could also have Gia and Tank hang out in another room if she thought Gia might be uncomfortable or threatened.

 Ann’s boyfriend was a different issue. Whenever, he arrived, naturally, he became Ann’s focus and Gia felt left out. So  I recommended the following:

  • When your boyfriend arrives, engage and acknowledge Gia in your conversation  so your focus isn’t entirely on your boyfriend. Otherwise, it’s a sudden attention shift and Gia feels “left out”.
  • He should verbalize whenever he moves around -- I’m standing up, sitting down -- so Gia isn't 'startled' and bops him out of transitional angst.
  • Gia should be the decider in their interactions. He shouldn’t pet her long -- if at all -- until she really trusts him.
I reminded Ann that not every person or cat has to be super social. But, gradually,
Gia’s tolerance would build, and if Ann wanted, we could do more sessions with Gia for major changes.

(Orion, a former rescue, will represent cats and offer nuggets of wisdom regarding Bo and Sunny, the rescued First Dogs -- Portuguese Water Dogs) 

It’s A Pop-Up-Card
Bo and Sunny Obama will represent the Obama family on their holiday card. Orion recommends posters be made of the card, and proceeds can benefit needy animals.

A Free Consultation With The Cat Therapist 

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 2013

(AKA Cats on the Couch)     For a better view Click

Dear Readers, 

I will be part of a segment on depression in cats and dogs in November on WCBS-TV N.Y. News and affiliates. Please check your TV listings for the date.

On Saturday, November 23 at 1:00 p.m.  I will be giving Reiki treatments to the feline stars and their star-keepers at the Westchester Cat Show.  Do stop by and say hello. It's 10a.m. to 5 p.m. at Westchester County Center, 198 Central Avenue, White Plains NY.
And one of the many features you will want to see is Jake, the therapy cat, whose job is to bring his comfort to hospital and nursing home patients.
Carole’s Take on Oscar The Cat Who .....  
Let's not wear fur. Instead, let's love, respect and honor our furry creatures.

Maybe, A Catdom for a dog

It may be that my Orion has forgotten that Bug the Pug and her family moved a few months ago, and he's waiting for the door to open so he can bolt inside to visit and hang out
It may be his reminder to me to find him another dog for play-dates. I am on the lookout.

(Sleep deprivation, destruction derby)
Two years ago I introduced Des, a young, neutered male cat to a spayed female named Xena. He was my prescription for Xena’s love and hate attacks of her guardian Kim. Xena’s behavior was classic “single cat syndrome”. She treated Kim as she would treat another cat. Her aggression was in the fast lane.

With a follow-up session, a bit of Skype, and some phone conversations, Xena adopted Des. Kim was no longer scarred and terrorized. Xena now sought out Kim for affection and all the good stuff. Des became her target for the rough and tough cat play she had exhibited with Kim.

But now Kim contacted me because of Des. He wreaked havoc with her sleep, scratched away at her furniture, along with his posts and didn’t seek Xena out as he normally would. After all, Xena was his mentor.  Kim wondered if he’d be happier with someone else. We scheduled a session so I could evaluate the situation.


Midway into their session, I gave Kim my diagnosis. I told her that it was Xena who felt jilted. “Somehow you, unintentionally, dropped the ball.” I reminded her how it was important to acknowledge Xena whenever she spoke or interacted with Des.
“Oh, I didn’t realize that it was an ongoing ritual,” said Kim. “They’d bonded so well, and Xena knows she’s number one. After all, I adopted Des so she’d have a companion."

I told Kim that acknowledgement of Xena was not a kick-starter to cement their relationship. It was ongoing -- forever.  So, even if you only say 'Right Xena', whenever you talk to or touch Des, even if she can’t see you, that’s enough. Say as much as you want. You can also mention Des whenever you interact with Xena if you sense he feels neglected. Everyone wants to be acknowledged.”  

“Me too,” said Kim, and smiled as she leaned over to stroke Xena. “And now I see it was the ripple effect.” 

“Or the catapult effect.  Xena got pissed off at Des, and he became the bad boy out of angst. His destruction derby was all about feeling depressed and flash backs of old bad stuff when he was on the street.”

Des & Xena
“That explains why he looked so unhappy. I’m so relieved and happy there’s a solution. You know I want my two to be happy with me. We’re a family,” said Kim.

I nodded and gave Kim some further recommendations:

  •   Continue to play the musical CD to recreate the good feelings from their sessions.
  •   If Des starts to act out at bedtime or in the wee hours, tell him you realize he wants to play, lead him out in an upbeat way with the toss of a toy and close your bedroom door. Xena may want to join him. It may be necessary to sequester him in the bathroom with his creature comforts but be upbeat not accusatory or punitive. This could become a nightly ritual where at bedtime Des has his own digs to enjoy nocturnal play -- instead of nocturnal angst. 
  •   Encourage and praise both cats when they work out on their scratching posts and pads. They may need an addition to their collection. A very sharp, violent “no” when they scratch your furnishings.
  •    Remember R.A.C.E.  Repetition, Acknowledgment and Consistency adds up to the Endurance which will keep your guys scratching in all the right places. Give a pedicure when needed, and don’t press down on their paw pads as you trim.
  •   A cat-friendly heating pad will relax and comfort them -- especially if they enjoy the sunshine.  Cover it with one of their favorite light-weight blankets.

Kim emailed me a few days later to tell me that she moved her guys' tier of nesting nooks from her bedroom door to another spot. Now Des could no longer disturb her at bedtime with their shake, rattle and roll as he scampered about. No more sleep deprivation makes a happy, fun-loving family. 

I left Kim a message to “acknowledge” her.

(Orion, a former rescue, will represent cats and offer nuggets of wisdom regarding Bo, the rescued First Dog -- a Portuguese Water Dog.) 

This will mark Sunny's first Thanksgiving with Bo and his family. A win-win for Sunny and all of the Obamas. 

And Orion says it's the perfect time to be thankful for our blessings and to reach out to those in need. 


Christmas had been camped out in the kitchen for four weeks on either the cabinet or the microwave when Lin called me. There he stayed -- except for when he made a quick trip to the litter box. 

He started this bizarre behavior after what was to be a routine visit to the vet. But there was a twist. A urinalysis was needed to evaluate his renal and other bodily functions. So a syringe was used to draw urine from his bladder and blood samples were taken. What would be a quick recovery for most cats was a trauma for Christmas.

Fifteen years old, in his golden years, he was the patriarchal cat with three other rescued cats and Jenna the rescued Pug. 

Christmas was their role model. Summer, the lone female cat, adored him. But now she kept her distance. This mystified their guardians, Lin and Jip.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 
During our phone consult, which was on speaker phone, so their cats could be affected and acknowledged by our conversation, I explained that Christmas seemed like a different cat to Summer. Consequently, she was freaked out by his strange behavior and now kept her distance. 
Christmas was so terrified during his vet visit that the usual flight or fight syndrome that kicks in to deal with “fear” was rattled and he was still fearful, even though he was home where he was safe and sound. He now clung to the kitchen because that was where they all ate. It was their comfort spot, his safe haven. “But Christmas won’t even go to the cat room which was always a favorite,” said Lin. When I answered that Lin had carried Christmas from the kitchen, upstairs to the cat room to put him in his carrier for his vet visit, Lin got it.

I had worked with Lin and Jib’s various cats since l988, and we had always rallied.
Although I was confident that they would be as caring and focused as ever, a breakthrough would depend on Christmas -- his stamina and will.

And so I devised a treatment plan to chip away at his PTSD and had them stroke Christmas and any of his companions who  showed up in the kitchen. Before I presented the treatment plan, I told Lin to relax her body and breathe freely. While I talked to Christmas and did silent, mental Reiki symbols, she should slowly carry him up to the cat room on the next floor. “Done, and I placed him on his pile of cushions,” said Lin.  I directed her to continue to stroke Christmas and to tell him how good he and his companions were as I presented the treatment plan.

Treatment Plan
  •  Brush Christmas while he hangs out on his cushions.
  • Tell him he’s safe, and everyone is okay.
  •  Carry him down to the kitchen at dinner time and back to the cat room if he  seems undecided. You be the decider.
  • Leave the door to the cat room open.
  • His musical CD should play repeatedly. That’s his security object.
  • Place a heating pad beside the cushions for an alternative cozy spot.
  • Tell him and his companions what a fun and fine family they are.
  •  Contact me with any questions.

When we next spoke, Christmas had accepted his change of scenery. Now he hung out in the cat room and would join the others for meals in the kitchen then scamper back to the bedroom. He purred when Lin brushed him and started to venture to other parts of the room. A week had passed, and my intent was to have Christmas venture to the bedroom and reclaim his bedtime spot.

Catapult Effect
Lin mentioned that Summer made a guest appearance in the cat room. She curled up in the closet for a bit. I told Lin that Summer was the psychological reflector. Her appearance was a reaction to Christmas’ breakthrough. The “catapult effect” was in a restorative direction for Christmas and his catdom.

Another week went by. When I next spoke to Lin, Christmas was purring and rubbing while she brushed him. By the end of the day he had looked out the window which was a first since his trauma. “He’s really moving along,” said Lin.

The following day I had a call from a producer from local WCBS-TV News. They were doing a segment on depression in cats and dogs and wondered if I had a case that would be appropriate. We scheduled a morning that she and the camera person would join me on a house call to Christmas and his family in Connecticut. The session would be taped and aired some time in November. I felt that the session would be beneficial to Christmas and his family.

Will the holidays be merry for Christmas and his family? Find out in December’s Blog.

The rest of the family


A Free Consultation With The Cat Therapist 


Monday, October 7, 2013

October 2013

THE WILBOURN WAY BLOG  (AKA Cats on the Couch)

Dear Readers, 

The Big New Yorker Book Of Cats has anthologized my “cat therapy”!

Many, many decades ago, as I pioneered cat therapy, I was written up in The New Yorker, Talk Of The Town. The writer followed me on three house calls to troubled cats and their guardians. However, Lulu, a very distressed, black cat, was left behind. You can now read about Lulu and her transformation in the Huffington Post.  Lulu: The Cat The New Yorker Left Behind, by Lois Metzger 

For a better view Click on

CATS AND GIRLS is a Balthus retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum. 

I was touched and inspired by the forty drawings of his cat Mitsou which was created in 1921 when Balthus was eleven years old. You've gotta see it! 

Reiki Is A Healing experience:

Carole’s Take on Oscar The Cat Who .....  


“Whew, what happened to this kitty?” I asked, as I made my rounds of the hospital patients at Westside Veterinary Center.

 “She was rescued from a storm drain,” Dr. Chiverton said. "She’s anemic, has an infection, and a nasty flea infestation -- which the nurses are about to comb out.”

While the nurses gently combed away, I sent the kitty distant Reiki which consists of mental symbols to create the connection through which Reiki healing can activate. This was not the time for me to use hand placements.

“What a lucky kitty,” I said as the nurses smiled and combed.

Take a look at the following email from this kitty’s rescuer -- now guardian:

Hi Carole,   
Westside’s staff told me that you gave the white and black kitty a Reiki treatment. Thank you on behalf of Magdalena or Miss Mags who is now a member of our family. My boyfriend and I are totally in love with her. I am now a confirmed cat lover. We’re hoping that her anemia was triggered by the flea infestation and no other serious causes. 

Here's a picture of Miss Mags happy and healthy in her new home.  By the way, we often find her sleeping on the catnip toy you gave her.

We thank you all at Westside Vet on behalf of our Miss Mags.


 (Urine Puddles --Indiscriminate Urination)

In September’s Blog, I told how Lily, an outdoor, untouchable, abandoned cat made her move to the “great indoors” and now lived with a family of four and their three other cats. I was contacted to do a behavioral session for Sunny, their eight year old, spayed female who very frequently left puddles of urine in spots other than the three litter boxes. Various rugs, couches, other furnishings and floors throughout the house were only some of Sunny’s targets.

Sunny’s puddles started soon after Lily moved in. That was three years ago. Her guardians, Sue and Paul, told me how Sunny did okay with Skye, their timid, female and Simon the solo, outgoing  male. "But Sunny never really accepted Lily,” they said. Before Lily moved in, Sunny’s back often rippled and her ear flattened when she spotted Lily outside their house.


I explained that female rivalry with Lily helped to fan Sunny’s angst. Consequently, she had an anxiety attack and “let go” in unacceptable spots to communicate her discomfort. Her puddles were a symptom of her angst. She was an emotional sponge. Her emotions were reflected by her bladder. Sunny’s bladder was her stress target.

“So what do we do?” Sue said, as Sunny’s ears slightly jiggled  to the music I had brought to relax the entire family.

These were some of my recommendations:
  • Slowly switch to a bladder friendly food.   
  • Play the music frequently so Sunny and her cat-mates can relive the relaxation of their session. The music will be their security object and provide continuous therapy  -- group therapy.
  •  If Sunny has an incident, it’s okay to get upset. You might say:  “Oh Sunny,we’re upset because you are, but you’re on your way to feeling better." She won’t understand your words but she’ll sense you’re on her side.
  • Remember to praise Sunny and her companions when you see them in the litter box.
  • Acknowledge all of your cats frequently so they feel special. Tell them how happy they make you. 
  • Scoop and clean the litter boxes frequently  The boxes should be easily accessible and in quiet spots.

 Sunny had a recent appointment with the vet which included a urinalysis and blood test to rule out any medical problem, and the vet had given them a script for Prozac. Sue and Dexter contacted me because before they started the Prozac, they wanted my input on Sunny’s behavior and a better way to interact with Sunny and her companions. Once before they had tried Sunny on the Prozac with no success. I told them that I regarded the Prozac as the secondary, temporary support which would reinforce the behavioral program. As Sunny’s stress tolerance increased, the drug could be slowly reduced.


I reminded Sue that Sunny might have “slips” or set-backs as she recovered and healed. But not to worry. It was her signal that she needed more support, more acknowledgment. Maybe they’d forgotten to mention Sunny when they interacted with Lily, so Sunny felt left out, threatened, and a “puddle” communicated her angst.

People Companionship  

Each of the cats had their favorite person and location. 

With four cats and four people, four was the perfect number. Sunny claimed Sue. Lily was Daddy’s little girl. Skye and Simon hung out with each of the two kids. Sunny spent most of her time on the first floor, while the other two females preferred different areas of the house. Simon, the gregarious, was not location specific. After all, these were his girls.

Sunny’s Progress

Two weeks later Sue called to report that Sunny had a clean slate. No more puddles. “She gobbles her Prozac down in a pill pocket. All the cats really chill out to the music you left us; Me too.”

I asked Sue to put me on speaker phone so we could recreate the feelings and mood of the cats’ therapy session. All the cats appeared but Skye. She chose to receive her therapy at a distance.

“We wondered which of part of Sunny’s treatment was responsible for her feeling better. But we realized it’s all of the parts.”

“And you and your family’s part in making it all happen,” I said.


As I bicycled home from my lesson at the Apple Store, my trainer’s conversation came back to me.  He told me how he and his girlfriend had adopted,Tiger, a rescue, a really cool cat. He used his scratching post but tore up their nubby textured chair -- a similar texture to his post. They thought more of Tiger than the chair. But what if one day he dissed  their brand new stuff? ”We would never ***declaw Tiger but there’s gotta be a way for him  to “workout” without a destruction derby,” he said.

I told him to cover the entire chair for at least three or four weeks and to secure the cover so it was Tiger-proof. Otherwise, he would crawl under the cover. One post wasn’t enough -- especially if Tiger’s solo post wasn’t sturdy. Two or three sturdy, nubby or sisal posts would keep him scratching in the right places. Whenever he “worked out”, they should tell him that he was a cool, best cat and cheer him on. If he scratched “their stuff”, a “very sharp, non-negotiable NO” would startle and interrupt his intent. But they must be consistent. Otherwise, Tiger would be confused and inconsistent.

I mentioned how my cat has an assortment of sisal, cedar and cork alternatives. Whenever he wants my acknowledgement, he knows it’s a given -- if he makes the rounds of his posts and pads, I’ll repeat and repeat “What a good boy you are”. He usually greets me at the door with a scratching post work-out to my shouts of “Good boy” -- instant acknowledgment; for me too.

Repetition, Acknowledgment and Consistency adds up to the Endurance which will keep Tiger scratching in all the right places. So remember RACE.

*The removal of a cat’s claws can trigger medical and emotional problems. Refer to my article on this site “You Can’t Declaw With Love”   


My cat, Orion, loves to head bump my feet for automatic under his chin foot nuzzles. But now it’s his reminder for me to strike a few kick boxing motions. Why? Because I toss a few of his toys and cheer him on as he darts about. That’s what we do when I’ve come from a kick boxing class. We work-out together. Family fitness!


(Orion, a former rescue, will represent cats and offer nuggets of wisdom regarding Bo, the rescued First Dog -- a Portuguese Water Dog.) 

Health Care Reform
 With enormous innovations in human health care reform,  Bo and Sunny can be the dog-alysts for an “innovative” health care plan for animal companions.
 And Orion will gladly lend a paw or more.

A Free Consultation With The Cat Therapist