We had a few breakthroughs with Rupert this week: a bit more body relaxation on his part, as in, leaning into the chin scratches, and he also ate some kibble from my hand. He’s still hiding under the chair in his safe room, but our interaction with him seems to be making him less tense with each passing day.
I sit in the room with him and read for an hour or two every day, and we have 15 minute touch sessions twice a day at meal times. My husband also has his own separate sessions, and even though we are still controlling and initiating the contact, progress is being made in small increments. The house noise still seems too much for him, so we will continue to keep the door closed for the foreseeable future. Even Moon kitteh seems interested in the mystery goings on, and we are encouraging his curiosity with positive energy by letting him smell our hands when we come out of the room and by getting him excited about “Who’s in the room?” “Is your friend in the room?” and other equally enthusiastic inquiries to keep him interested. Like a game of hide and seek, the fun is in the mystery. We also have to be mindful not to neglect Moon in the process, so my days are pretty busy. I had to cut my exercise time down a bit to make time for it all, but I still make sure I run a mile or two after work before I do anything as it gets me relaxed. If I’m relaxed and have positive mind and body energy, it helps the situation.
And speaking of help, we also use some holistic modalities in combination with the behavioral modification techniques from the Merck Manual that I mentioned the other day.
Catnip is a funny thing. For many cats, it makes them crazy wild, but it doesn’t seem to affect feral cats in the same way, if at all. Maybe that’s because feral cats are used to all kinds of vegetation, including wild catmint; so it might be that they are desensitized to it. That said, I used it with Moon to train him on his scratching posts and toys, and I find that it seems to have a calming effect. Maybe it’s because it smells herbal and earthy, and to feral cats, that smell is familiar and comforting. Probably why the Cat Attract litter treatment works: it smells like the outdoors. Smells like home. This is the brand I like (Cosmic Cat Frisky Spritz). I just spray it on my hands and let it dry right before we start a touch session. He seems to like it and that’s what counts.
We have also been giving calming chews once a day. This brand of chew is the same preparation that my vet uses, just watch you don’t overdose them as it does have some B vitamins in it.
As for the herbal essence remedies, like Bach Rescue Remedy which we will be trying out next month, the question always comes up as to whether or not they actually work or are they just snake oil spiritual voodoo hoo ha. My answer is: I don’t know. I cannot say definitively if they work or not. I’ve been a kitchen witch for most of my life. I use herbal and holistic approaches myself for certain situations, meditation being one of them, and what I do know for certain is that positive energy helps. Animals are particularly sensitive to the energetic output of other creatures, including humans. If we are scared, nervous, angry, or unsure, they can feel it and see it. Negative energy creates tension, in our bodies, in our voices, in our smell, and in our actions even if we are unaware of it. We know how draining it is to be around negative drama people, so imagine how it feels for an already nervous animal to be approached and accosted by an animal as large as we are when we are in a negative space. We project that negativity into them and we reinforce their own negative feelings.
So by that logic, if we approach holistic modalities from a positive mindset, it can’t hurt anything except for our wallet. And it won’t hurt our wallet too much as long as we understand that there is no magic cure-all that we can spray on the animal or put in their food that will make them all better overnight. It doesn’t work for people. It doesn’t work for animals. Behavior modification is a complex thing, and it takes a multi-tiered and complex approach, allowing for the fact that not every approach will work, as every being is unique. Anyone who has had dealings with an addict knows this to be true. Your rescue cat is addicted to fear because it has helped them survive. It takes a long time to change that sort of thinking, so if spraying an herbal essence on your hands before touching the animal helps to get you into a positive space, then it helps, however indirectly.