Sarah Hauser: TTouch, Animal Reiki and Bach Flower Remedies in New York City

I work with a lot of shy, fearful and feral, cats so here are a few tips to help a shy cat settle into your home, and to be able to bond with you in a gentle and profound way. 

It is normal for shy cats to become more shy initially when they go into a new home
, as it is a big change for them, so don't be surprised if it takes them time to adjust.  Just be patient and consistent in gently working with them, and they will get more and more comfortable. 

Keeping him in one small room, like a bedroom, for a good amount of time, at least two weeks, or more, so that they can become slowly acclimated to the apartment.  That way they will be less apt to hide. 

Don't rush these first steps, it will be worthwhile to take it even slower than you think you should.  I have two formerly-feral cats in my own home, with whom I went through a very slow, gradual process, so this comes from my first-hand experience, as well as my experience with other shy and fearful shelter cats.  Giving them plenty of time to adjust and feel safe in a smaller space will lay a good foundation for them.  A slow, gradual approach helps develop a deeply trusting, loving bond. For a feral or extremely feral cat, you will most likely need to take each of these steps even more slowly.  I started my feral cats in a large cage such as this:
and that can be the best way to start if your cat is not used to human contact. 

What you see as a small step can be a huge step for the cat.  A good rule of thumb is to introduce each new thing to them slowly and gradually, breaking it down into steps if necessary. 

Here are some tips to help him feel comfortable and get to know him:

-Setting up cozy hidey places.  You want to give options other than under the furniture.  A cat bed with sides could be a good idea.  This helps the cat feel protected, without being totally hidden.  You can even try something as simple as a cardboard box with a towel or something soft inside, so the cat can nestle inside but you can still see him.  Paper shopping bags work well too - just make sure to cut the handles off so they don't get their heads caught in them. 

This box is great - he can snuggle inside, and you can take the top partway or all the way off to pet him while the cat is in there:

Scratch Lounges are great too, these are cardboard scratchers that cats love to hang out in, and they feel rather protected.

you can buy replacement pads for these as well.

-Lowering body position.  Sitting/crouching etc on the floor lowers your body position so you don't appear as big and possibly threatening.  Hanging out in the room with the cat, whether you are just hanging out, playing with them or petting them while sitting on the floor will be really helpful.  If it is uncomfortable for you to sit on the floor, perhaps you can find a low stool, like the fold-up plastic stepstools you often find in a hardware store.

-Speaking to the cat in quiet, slow tones.  It will help the cat feel more relaxed.  It is important for you to feel as relaxed as possible when you are with him, also.  Tune into yourself and take a few deep breaths before entering the room.  He picks up on your energy so you want to have your own energy be calm.

-TTouch and other videos on my youtube channel.

TTouch is one of the techniques which I use with the cats at the shelter, and it is particularly helpful for shy cats.  Following is my youtube channel:

Look at the tutorial "Intro to TTouch for Cats" and the Tutorial about Tools.  After that, you can look at section "Basic TTouches" and the videos in the section "TTouch Tools for Cats".

The tools can be really helpful for shy cats.  It is a great way to help them get used to you touching them, and they may be less apt to run away from you if you start that way.

Once you can touch the cat directly, start to explore some of the TTouches which you will see demonstrated on my youtube channel. 

Other helpful sections for you to look at on my channel are "Reiki, TTouch and Treats", which shows you some ways to work with treats to get closer to the cat, and "Techniques Combining Intention and a Calm Voice".

-Treats: Assuming the cat is not on a special diet, treats can be a great way to connect with him and get him to come closer to you.  Anything you do which encourage him to come to you is really helpful, as he can feel like it is his choice. 

Temptations in the yellow package is a popular brand, as is original flavor Party Mix, and for a healthier option, chicken flavored Liv a Littles are great. 

At first, you can just toss a few treats near the cat to see if they will eat them in your presence.  If they don't at first that is ok.  The next step is putting the treats closer and closer to you, and gradually you can put your hand on the floor with the treat in it, and see if the cat will eat off your hand.  Again, take time with this.  If the cat is hesitant to take it off your hand, see if he will eat with your hand nearby.  The next step is petting the cat as he takes the treat.  As mentioned above, see the section on treats on my youtube channel for some ideas.

-Baby food:  Most cats LOVE baby food and it can be a really good way to get the cat to come to you.  Remember to only use all-meat baby food, either Turkey or Chicken.  Gerber's is the most universally liked, you can use Beechnut as well - make sure there are no onions in the ingredients in any case. 

You can put a bit of the baby food on your finger and let him lick it off.  If the cat hesitates, start out with it on a spoon, then later try it on your finger.  
You can do this a couple of times a day, maybe right before mealtime. Just don't go too overboard on the amount of baby food, lest it start to make tje lottu  constipated. A baby food jar will stay good for a few days in the fridge- so if you make it last a few days that should be fine.

-Toys.  Play is great for connecting with a cat in a non-threatening way. The playing will allow him/her to be near you without being directly touched.

A couple of great toys are the Go Cat Cat Catcher
(You can also buy replacement mice).

Be sure to take these and other string toys out of the room when not in use so that the cat doesn't chew on the wire or string.  I use a long mailing tube to store my cats' string toys when not in use.

-Bach Flower remedy.  These are natural remedies that can help the cat to be more relaxed.  See this page for instructions on using Rescue Remedy, which is something you can find at a health food store.  I recommend the kind made for animals as it is not made with alcohol, but the regular kind is ok if you can't find it.  Or I could bring or send you a custom remedy at some point if you wish. 

-Quiet music.  There are many choices to find nice quiet music, either you can find it on the radio, or on TV (I like the Soundscapes music channel), or online ( has a lot of options).  This can be so soothing to the cats. 

If I am local to you, I recommend an in-person session so that I can teach you the TTouches, look at the layout of your place and personalize my recommendations.  I can also do distant sessions with you over the phone.
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