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