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.
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.
Orion, a recovering feral, lives to play and play and play so he shares their passion.
** Hamlet Rocks
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 and to his first Thanksgiving at the Algonquin Hotel.
** Hello Kitty Float
A tip-top float -- Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
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.
Cat nap is always cozy on a 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."
Brother wants to join in
"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 Ziggy-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.
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.