As I bicycled to my next appointment, I thought about some cat and baby connections. Gracie, a recovering feral, was her guardians’ surrogate baby for several years until Elizabeth, their human baby, was born.
Gracie times her naps with Elizabeth's
I had treated Gracie to ease her people timidity. Her first big break-through was her acceptance of her guardian’s mother-in-law but a “baby” was a whole new issue.
Gracie Became Elizabeth’s Personal Messenger
Gracie was at first tentative about Elizabeth but before too long — if Elizabeth fussed or cried, Gracie would run for help. Gracie became Elizabeth’s personal messenger. Her guardians were thrilled with their Gracie.
An Adopted Baby
Shadow and Sparky were two cats whose guardians adopted a baby girl so the cats didn’t experience the gradual body movement of a growing fetus during a pregnancy. Before the arrival of the baby, the cats were introduced to the baby’s belongings. They listened to their therapy recording and also one of a crying baby.
Sparky, baby's constant companion
Sparky became a constant companion to the baby. Shadow usually kept her distance but would always stay close when the baby was sick or needed attention. A few years later when Sparky passed on, the baby cried and it took awhile for her to understand why Sparky was no longer there to join in her tea parties.
Dexter And Baby Emily
Dexter is a young cat whose guardians, Pam and Dave, referred to as their “first born”. When baby Emily was born, they spoke of her as their “second born”.
Each morning Dexter gave them a lick on the face to let them know that Emily was awake. Shortly after her cry could be heard on the intercom. He was fascinated with Emily but there was one puzzle. Whenever Baby Emily was out of her crib, Dexter would make his way in. They realized they could keep her door closed but felt there must be something additional they could do.
Dexter would make his way into the crib when baby wasn't there
“Amazing timing,” Pam said, when I called. “Dexter is in Emily’s crib now.”
I asked Pam to turn on the speaker phone and started talking to Dexter.
Dexter's private bassinette
“Carole, he’s coming out of the crib,” said Dave “and walking towards the phone.”
I talked some more to Dexter and asked Dave to switch on the music from Dexter’s session so he could have the comfort of his security object.
“We play the recording a lot but now we’ll remember it’s a must when Emily is out and about,” said Pam.
I suggested they provide a faux crib for Dexter. He camped out in her crib because it was a plus for her, so why not for him?
“We have an extra bassinet that we can give to Dexter,” said Pam.
“Super,” I said and added that they should interact with Baby Emily in the bassinet a few times to make it a fave for Dexter.
Pam’s next message was that when Emily naps in her crib, Dexter cat naps in his bassinet. “We feel very lucky to have Dexter as Emily’s cat and we thank you for being his therapist,” said Pam as we said goodbye.
It occurred to me how Dexter had taken on surrogate nanny duties and how Baby Emily was in perfect paws.
Click Here and scroll down to Snow Ball Rejects Jack — Feline Recognition Crisis
(Single Kitten Syndrome)
Simba at a low-key moment
Orion displayed mixed whisker waves when Ali, a new client, mentioned she was referred by a dog trainer who referred to me as the expert on cat behavior because I was so much like a cat. Orion concurs on my cat know-how but feels a cat is a cat is a cat, and a person is a person. How true that is.
Fel-Dl Allergen Protein Anyway, Ali’s family had adopted a Siberian Kitten because the children were allergic to cats and dogs. Because a cat grooms itself, the saliva, along with the Fel-D1 proteins ends up on the cat’s coat and causes dander. Siberians produce much less of this Fel-D1 allergen protein than any other breed. This is why the Siberian Cat was chosen byAli’s family and is a good choice for allergy sufferers.
Single Kitten Syndrome The family was in love with the kitten whom the children named Simba. But Simba was beyond hyper-active. She was a speed demon who ran perpetual races combined with being a biter. I told Ali that I would give her a program to modify Simba’s deviant behavior, but that she was clearly affected by the “single kitten syndrome”. They would know within several days if Simba could be happy as the only cat.
Simba’s Behavioral Program A few of my recommendations were to engage her in several daily intense play periods to work out her high energy. They could also take her outdoors in a cat stroller. This would be a distraction, and the many new attractions would serve to tire her out. Another option would be to take her outdoors on a leash and harness at quiet times after they got her accustomed to the harness indoors. Hide and seek could be another adventure. Ali worked at home while the rest of the family was away until the evening. She mentioned how Simba was low key most of the day. But she darted over to the fast lane when evening arrived. I told Ali that Simba mirrored her low key energy during the day but switched over to high key in unison with the return of the other family members. Transition time became high energy time for Simba. It was important that Ali should engage Simba in play during the day so she wouldn’t become so frantic in the evening.
Simba's tooth found on the carpet
Simba’s Teething The next day was a mixed update from Ali. The children had found one of Simba’s teeth. As she was only five months old, she was still teething which would account for some of her “bites”. Ali was able to play with Simba during the day so she was less hyper. She wanted so much for Simba to remain with the family but knew they would do what was best for Simba.
Simba’s Frustration It was an emotional roller coaster during the next few days. But Simba’s m.o. or template was mostly single kitten syndrome cat speak. She tore around the house at near lightning speed, with a few nips here and there, rejected any attention and spent a lot of the time under a bed in the guest room. Frustration with a capital “F”.
Irresistibly huggable when not on a tear
So the family reluctantly admitted that she desperately needed a four-legged friend. And they were able to place her with a cat-friendly dog. Ali would reach out to the Siberian Rescue Group http://siberiancatrescue.com/ for an adult cat who preferred to be the only cat. She felt her family wanted to recover first from the absence of Simba before they adopted another cat.
We Don't Want To Give Happy Bear Up But .....
(Aggressive Cat Syndrome)
I wanted to hug Happy Bear's demons away
Aggressive behavior can often cost a cat the loss of a home. I’m reminded of Happy Bear, a cat I once treated for aggressive behavior. When his case was referred to me, Happy Bear’s latest victim was Tiger, a young companion cat. His attack was so brutal that his teeth punctured a hole in Tiger’s back that had to be sutured. His family didn’t want to give him up but they were about to give up. “You’re our last hope,” they told me.
Happy Bear’s Case History I can still see Happy Bear, a hulk of a cat, with the looks of a black and white bear. He was sitting on top of a big, worn-out cardboard box, hunched over, with his head hung low. I wanted to hug his demons away. His case history was beyond tragic. Bear’s family had adopted him from a shelter six years ago.
Happy Bear and Ollie
He once had a close relationship with his companion Ollie. Everything was copasetic until several months after he was adopted. The family spent weekends at their country house. The cats often hung out in their garden. But one afternoon Bear was shot with a bullet from someone’s B B gun. Not long after, he managed to sneak out of the house, was mauled by a dog and in his run for safety was hit by a car. His tail had to be amputated and he underwent hip replacement. There’s more. The younger of the two daughters needed in-home therapy which increased the stress level. The same daughter fell in love with Tiger, a young orange kitten, who fell in love with Ollie and entertained the family with his comedic catsonality. His favorite trick was something that resembled a somersault.
The Triangle Syndrome Now instead of a happy duo, there was the triangle syndrome and Bear became the lone cat. His grief grew into resentment. Tiger became his first victim. He also cornered the younger daughter and acted out when her friends came over. When bedtime arrived Bear slept all alone on his cardboard box in the foyer. His guardians wanted to dispose of this worn out box but they realized it had become his place of solace.
My Impression And Preliminary Conclusion
First I told his guardians how much I admired their devotion to Happy Bear and how I wanted them to be able to count on me for whatever I could do to help them give Bear the treatment he needed to feel better. I explained how his abandonment at the shelter, together with his physical and emotional trauma had made him very vulnerable with depleted inner resources. The stress of their daughter’s in-home therapy unhinged this vulnerability. New kitten competition from Tiger was another strike and the break-up of his relationship with Ollie made him inconsolable. Bear’s survival instinct was triggered. Unfortunately for them, he resorted to “fight” not “flight”. He took out his grief and anger on Tiger and their younger daughter.
Happy Bear's Treatment Plan
There was so much to tell them and they were so very eager and willing to do all they could possibly do to bring Happy Bear around.
First we wanted to create a space where Bear could have all of his creature comforts but in his own private space. Of course, his box would be included. The space could be a very small room or a large crate. This would limit his attack cat tactics.
His therapy recording would help to relax him.
Ollie could visit him and Tiger would be safe.
Eventually Tiger could be added to the equation.
We might want to add an anti-anxiety drug or homeopathic remedy once they had his behavioral program in place.
Happy Bear in his private space
By the time I left, Bear was stretched out on top of his box and his face had relaxed. The next day I received an email from the family that they had learned so very much from our therapy session. They realized it would be a long haul but they felt they could do it.
An attack cat is a very tormented cat and time and patience are the key ingredients in their healing. Happy Bear was so very blessed to live with a family who could help with his struggle along the path to healing. I feel privileged to be able to be a part in this process -- to feel I can make a difference.
(Feline Greeter at the Algonquin Hotel)
Hamlet at work
Banner Day for Fitness
I arrived at the Algonquin to find Hamlet in his hotel window spot. But when I showed him the glitter ball, he followed me out to the baggage cart.
Hamlet was off to another glitter ball bout. When not on his Hamlet best-in-show front desk perch, he fancies the baggage cart. Must be because it conveys baggage, and Hamlet faves “service”.
Click Hereto see the video of Hamlet's workout on his baggage cart.
Hamlet on the baggage cart
When one of the guests mentioned how Hamlet could be a power of example to her cat, one who preferred food to fitness. I clued her in.
Congratulating Hamlet on his high-intensity workout
“Hamlet is also a foodie, which is why I lean on fitness and the glitter ball during his behavioral/Reiki sessions.”
“You’ll have to schedule a session with my guy,” she said.
Orion's Alleged 11th Birthday
Click Here for the celebration and Here for the birthday table
Nine years ago, my sister Gail found Orion on the web. So I flew out to San Diego, Gail met me at the airport and we drove to pick up Orion at the Chula Vista Animal Care Center. He was, allegedly, two years old, part Siamese, part feral, a voyeur of other cats but kept his distance.
So now, Orion, my cat of cats, is a “recovering feral” and my feline significant other, domestic partner. Happy Birthday, Orion
Then Cooper came to play. Orion gives dogs an equal opportunity to his company. Click Here to see the video.
Orion sizes up Cooper at their first meet-up
Mister Moves On
Mister stretches out and listens to the music
(Demise by a cancerous throat tumor)
“It will be a major transition for you all and Missy,” I said. Mister, Missy’s bro, a fifteen year old, black cat, succumbed with quite a battle to throat cancer. His will to live was — until the end — unshakable.
Mister’s family had engaged me to give distant Reiki treatments to ease his discomfort and to offer a behavioral program that would extend beyond his transition.
Forever the Ninja
Mister was always the mover and shaker of the two cats. Front and center he reveled in attention and even sought a place at the dinner table. Never a lap cat but still so much an “in your face cat”.
Reiki, Behavioral Support and Music Therapy
The sessions were either by FaceTime or phone, where speaker phone made it possible for Mister and Missy to listen in. I also sent links of music, and Mister’s fave was “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Sometimes my Reiki colleagues joined in to send distant Reiki. During one of these occasions, Mister stretched out in his basket, and instead of a crouched up and stiff position, his body and face took on a blissful sleep.
In his last week he scrambled through the garden, caught a lizard and hung out beneath the rosemary bush. Much to their surprise, he even greeted the family at the door and joined them for evening TV time.
Caught a lizard
Loves that Rosemary
But Mister’s will couldn’t forever outlast his cancer. So when his breath became ever so labored and he stayed in a crouched position, his family knew this was indeed the end. They had arranged for a veterinarian to administer last rites with an injection that would end his life humanely. I together with my Reiki colleagues sent distant Reiki to balance his and their mind, body and well being.
I always included Missy, Mister’s sis and littermate, in Mister’s sessions. Yes, it was group family therapy. More than likely, Missy had sensed and even shared some of Mister’s discomfort. They had been together since birth, and although sometimes a bit bossy, high on his mojo, he was Missy’s protector. Now she would be the “top cat”, the family’s only cat. For sure, she would take on some of Mister’s characteristics, but now she could let loose without any restraints.
Missy on one of her latest outdoor jaunts
Missy Re-Invents Herself
Although last year Missy had 16 teeth removed, she has no other health issues and her weight remains constant. Never a lap cat and wary of being held, she allowed Mark to hold her for a Los Angeles minute. The next day Kelly was graced briefly with such a privilege. This was indeed a break-through for Missy. I explained as long as they let her go before she showed any resistance, it would be a positive memory for her, and in time she would remain longer in their arms.
Missy allows a hot minute of hands-on affection
And a brief cuddle from Kelly
At our next phone session, Missy nuzzled the phone with her cheek, her seal of approval as our voices came across speaker phone. Later that day she followed Kelly into her office and made herself comfy in a bed that Mister once hung out in.
Missy tucked into one of Mister's fave beds
At bedtime Missy never showed much interest in tucking in with any of the family. But now maybe she would seek more intimacy. She could join Mark and Kelly or one of the two kids at bedtime. I suggested that maybe Missy would join Kelly for a brief nap during the day. She worked at home so would be able to slip this in to her schedule. Anyway, Missy must have gotten the message as sometime during the night she tucked in with Mark and Kelly. She wandered off before they got up, but this was a beginning. She skipped the preliminary day time nap and tucked in for the real thing. It was a start and could one day become a Missy must.
Missy and her kids
My plan was to continue to offer grief reduction counseling, along with their behavioral and Reiki program for another month or more. During this time Missy and her family would steadily restore their peace of mind, and a Missy transformation would be well on its way to a new familial relationship.