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