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

Above: Natalia and Lulu, my formerly-feral cats, after becoming comfortable at home.
One of my specialties is helping shy, fearful and feral cats. 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 the cat in one small room, like a bedroom, for a good amount of time, at least two weeks, or more, so that he or she 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:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3261+28595+24906&pcatid=24906
and that can be the best way to start if your cat is not used to human contact.  Please contact me for more info on acclimating a feral cat to your home.

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 your cat feel more comfortable in your home and with you:

-Setting up cozy hidey places.  You want to give options other than under the furniture.  You can block off under the sofa or under the bed, except for maybe a small area at the edge.  Leave enough room so they can hang out there, and you can still make contact with them.  You can put a shallow box with something cozy inside or a cat bed and some toys under there.

If they are remaining hidden in one place or another, make sure you put their food and water near where they are hanging out, and have the litter box nearby as well.

You also need at least a couple of options that are not underneath furniture.  This will encourage them to be more out and about, and will help them be more accessible to you.

A cat bed with sides could be a good idea.  This helps the cat feel protected, without being totally hidden.  Or 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 or her.  Paper shopping bags work well too - just make sure to cut the handles off so they don't get their heads caught in them.  A short tunnel (maybe about 20 inches long) can work well as a hidey spot.

The following box is great - the cat can snuggle inside, and you can take the top partway or all the way off to pet him while the cat is in there.  The cat can also snuggle on the top of the box, which is very soft and cozy:

https://www.amazon.com/Curious-Cat-Cube-House-Condo/dp/B00EV6FU7C/ref=pd_bxgy_199_img_3?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00EV6FU7C&pd_rd_r=3KEWBAGS4V7XRKZYMHNZ&pd_rd_w=OB0Y3&pd_rd_wg=vbRlB&psc=1&refRID=3KEWBAGS4V7XRKZYMHNZ

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

https://www.chewy.com/scratch-lounge-original-scratch/dp/49352

you can buy replacement pads for these as well.

-Lowering body position.  Sitting, crouching or even laying on the floor lowers your body position so you don't appear as big and possibly threatening.  Spending quiet time 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.

I recommend sitting quietly at a comfortable distance from the cat and doing a quiet activity like reading near them.  Or if there are two people, you can have a quiet conversation near the cat.  So that you are just casually spending time fairly close to the cat, without trying to approach it.  And this is also something that is great to do before approaching the cat, so that you calm down your own energy before connecting with him/her.

-Speaking to the cat in quiet, slow tones.  It will help the cat feel more relaxed.  This is another way to relax yourself and the cat at the same time.  Speaking slowly and quietly will calm you both down.  Tune into yourself and take a few deep breaths before entering the room.  Cats are so sensitive to our energy.

Below: Lulu before she came home.  One of the first ways I connected with her was by stroking and TTouching her with a feather.


-TTouch and other videos on my youtube channel.

TTouch is one of the techniques which I use with cats at the shelter and privately, 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.  Cat Man Doo bonito flakes are also popular.  Fresh chicken or turkey is great too, but cut or break it into tiny pieces to use it as a treat to lure the kitty:)

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.  Then you can try putting the treat on the floor near you and put your hand next to the treat.  Once that is accepted, 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, take a step back and 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. If you can't find Gerber's, you can try Beechnut. Make sure there are no onions in the ingredients in any case. 

You can put a bit of the baby food on a spoon and let the cat lick it off.  If necessary, you can use a spoon with a long handle, like those used for ice cream sodas.  For example,
https://www.amazon.com/Hiware-9-Inch-Stainless-Cocktail-Stirring/dp/B01E3SS8AI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501384713&sr=8-1&keywords=ice+cream+soda+spoon

Once the cat will take the food from the spoon, start bringing the spoon closer to you.  Once the cat will eat closer to you, see if  he/she will lick it off 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 the cat constipated. A baby food jar will stay good for about three days in the refrigerator, so if you make the jar last three days for one cat, that amount should usually be ok.

-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
https://www.amazon.com/Go-Cat-Catcher-Teaser-Mouse/dp/B000LPOUNW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1480883626&sr=8-2&keywords=go+cat+cat+catcher
(You can also buy replacement mice).

and the cat charmer:

https://www.amazon.com/Cat-Dancer-Products-Rainbow-Charmer/dp/B007VPFC8C/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1480883693&sr=8-2&keywords=cat+dancer+fleece

Da Bird is also a popular toy:

https://www.amazon.com/GoCat-Feather-Cat-Assorted-Colors/dp/B001BOVEU4/ref=sr_1_6?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1501384942&sr=1-6&keywords=da+bird

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.  Some cats like to chase balls or little mouse toys, etc.  Experiment to see what your cat likes.

-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 contact me and I will make a custom remedy for your cat or cats.

-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, which also has an app available if you want to use your phone or a tablet etc), or online (iheart.com has a lot of options).  This can be so soothing to the cats.  Some cats enjoy listening to NPR (generally calm voices on those channels) or a classical music station, or possibly a jazz station if it stays on the calm side:)

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 offer Reiki to your cat, which can greatly help to calm the cat. 

For those not local to me, I can also do distant sessions with you over the phone the old-fashioned way, or through FaceTime.  I am available to do distant Reiki sessions as well.

Contact me with any questions or feedback, etc, or to schedule a session.  Fearful and feral cats have a special place in my heart, and I am always glad to be of help in whatever way I can:)
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