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.

SOME GREAT NEWS! I now have an online class on Teachable, "Cats Are Our Teachers - The Power of Quiet Connection: TTouch and Other Modalities for Cats".  Much of this class focuses on how TTouch and modalities can help shy, fearful and/or feral cats.  You can take the class at your own pace, on your own schedule.  Click here for the class site and information:)  Taking this class will also enable you to a 15% discount on a one-on-one session with me (remotely or in person). 

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. 

One of the most important concepts is to look at things from a cat's point of view.  In this way, you will be more able to understand them, more able to troubleshoot little bumps along the road that occur, and more likely to make a strong connection with them.  That understanding will foster a trusting and loving bond.  With all the following techniques, we are looking to increase the cat's confidence and trust. 

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 bathroom (a bathroom is often perfect for the initial space, especially for a kitten), bedroom (or a crate or cage or playpen within the bedroom for a more fearful or feral cat), for a good amount of time, at least two weeks, or more, so that he or she can become slowly acclimated to the apartment.  If you have them in a bathroom space initially and feel they are ready to explore a larger space like a bedroom after a week or so, that might be ok, but always err on the side of their comfort and feeling of safety. That way they will be less apt to hide.  

NOTE: Letting a fearful/feral cat into a larger space too soon is the most common error people make when acclimating their cat to a home.  This factor will affect the way the rest of your journey will go with the animal.  I cannot stress enough the importance of this, and it is the reason why many cats are brought back to shelters because they are hiding, etc. If you do realize that you have done this too soon, get your cat back in the smaller space and keep them there for a while longer.  That may be days, weeks or months, depending on the cat. Some people think that it will benefit the cat to have more space, when in reality, it is almost always most comfortable for a fearful cat to have a smaller, cozy space in the beginning, and to stay there until they are really at home there.  And then, introduce the rest of the space to them gradually, perhaps bringing them into another room to play for a while, then back to their original cozy space, etc.

For a very fearful or feral cat, I recommend starting them in a large cage with wheels within a small room.  This way, the cat can see everything around it, without being overwhelmed by actually being in that much new space at one time. It will also give you a better chance to make contact with the cat.  Then, by the time you let them out, they will be much less apt to hide.

I started my two formerly-feral cats, Lulu and Natalia, 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. 

After they are at ease, and you are able to make some contact with them, you can slowly start to let them out of the cage. 
Then get them back in the cage with food.  Let them out for a longer period each day, then when they are comfortable, they can stay out of the cage.  Keep the cage in the room until they are comfortable in the room.  Slowly move the litter box and food out of the cage til they are eating and going in the box out of the cage.

Please contact me for more info on acclimating a feral cat to your home.
  You will find my stories of acclimating my cats on my blog,  Search for "Natalia" to find the posts.

Don't rush these first steps
, it will be worthwhile to take it even slower than you think you should.  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. 

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. 

Jackson Galaxy's site is a great resource if you also need to introduce a new cat to another cat or cats.  Please go to the following link for that info: and for his behavior tips on other topics:

If you have adopted a kitten or kitten, please also check out Kitten Lady's site for a wealth of tips:

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.  Block off less accessible spaces like 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.  Block off any nooks or crannies where you do not want them to go.

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, or even a small litter box with a small towel, baby blanket or soft pillow case inside.  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:

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

you can buy replacement pads for these as well.

- Sharing quiet energy - Reiki meditation.  Try my "Healing Bubble" meditation on my youtube channel.

This is a Reiki meditation that anyone can try.  Just sit at a comfortable distance from the cat, and let them be wherever they want to be for this guided meditation.  Contact me if you would like to find out more about Animal Reiki:)  It can be a wonderful way to make a loving, trusting connection with a shy cat.

-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, low 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 and Air TTouches.  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.  Tools are things such as feathers, paintbrushes, back scratchers and the like, which help give some space between you and the cat.  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. These tools are also great for cats who tend to get overstimulated. The Air TTouches can work really well too for the really shy cats.  I often do them with feral cats who are too afraid to be touched. 

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".

The concept of picking up the cat can be way way down the road for a lot of shy cats, so don't rush it AT ALL.  Once a cat is used to being touched and is comfortable being touched on the body, you can slowly acclimate them to TTouches on the side of the body, then a bit on the belly, then start to do little lifts.  Have a look at this video to see some of this process:

Of course, for kittens, this can be something that is tried sooner rather than later, but with adult cats, definitely really take your time with it.  The more gradually you do each step, the more the cat is able to be receptive to it:)

-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 or other freeze-dried meat treats made for cats 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 (made for human babies) 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, but Beechnut is even better to use if you can find it, as it does not have cornstarch in it, as Gerbers does. Make sure there are no onions or garlic 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,

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 - right before mealtime is usually a good time, as they will be hungry. 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.

- Churu Treats. These are treats the texture of baby food but they are made for cats and come in little tubes, so these can often be more convenient than baby food.  Some cats will eat it out of the tube as you squeeze it, or you can work with it in the same way that I describe working with the baby food, eventually getting them to lick the treat off your finger.  If you do not finish the tube, you can store it in the fridge and will probably stay good for a couple of days.  They come in a variety of flavors, but I have found that a favorite flavor with the cats at the shelter is the Tuna and Chicken flavor.  Other companies make these types of meat tubes, but I have so far found that the Churu ones are the most popular with the cats:)

-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.

The Go Cat Cat Catcher is one of the most universally-liked cat toys, and I have seen it energize even a some very senior kitties who generally don't respond to toys:
(You can also buy replacement mice).

Some kitties like the cat charmer:

Da Bird is also a popular toy:

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.  Some shy cats can be scared of toys like Da Bird, as the feathers are quite big.

-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 ( 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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