Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Our neighborhood has a cat. Luna. She belongs to the house next door but she prefers to be outside. The next-door neighbor says she comes in when it’s really cold or when she’s hungry but then she goes right back out. She travels around the neighborhood, and she’ll talk to anyone who lets her come near. She follows Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween. She travels blocks to visit certain people or sit in their yard every few days. She recognizes my car from down the street. She sees me coming and starts running toward my driveway. She meows and waits. I open my door and get out. We talk, me asking how her day is going, her meowing. I rub her head. We check the mailbox. And if she’s hungry she lets me know by coming up to my front porch with me.
I have a little dish sitting there just for her. Squirrels and birds have been known to steal her kibble from the dish now and then, but I’m pretty sure it’s the raccoons who completely steal it. It’s metal and shiny, and they have those little clever hands so I suppose the temptation is just too great. But I’m onto them and their shenanigans and I know their hiding places! I have crawled under bushes and trees to get that dish back again.
She waits at my door as I go inside to fetch her cat food, and then I fill her dish and she happily eats.
She was a rescue kitty whose previous owners mistreated her, and though we don’t know what she experienced we know that she doesn’t like being touched anywhere but her head. If you try she’ll suddenly hiss and bite at you. I’ve been nipped several times! But she’s such a lover, and I would love to just love her right up because I know she wants it.
The problem is when she’s standing there getting her head rubs and pats she doesn’t stand still. She is constantly trying to rub her face on my hand, my leg, or my purse, or she’s walking this way and that way, standing on her toes and then crouching down. It makes it hard to aim for that little head. She also doesn’t like when you’re not at her level. So I have to kneel down and take my cues from her as to how I’m allowed to reach for her. Reaching down from above has taught me not to try it again or I’ll be pulling back a bloody stump! Poor thing. I know she wants to be loved up so badly.
Well, yesterday I discovered something that changed her behavior and I don’t think she even realized it. While Luna and I were having our usual small talk/head rubbing/love fest, her standing beside my car and me squatting down to her level, I instinctively tried something I learned in my Shiatsu training. One technique that brings comfort is to use a “mother hand” that stays still while the other hand does the work. It’s very soothing. Its purpose isn’t to project Ki, or life energy, but to virtually be undetected while tuning in at an energy level.
So while I had one hand trying to rub her constantly bobbing head, I placed my other hand on her swaying back right at her tail. And I lightly held it there just barely touching her while imagining her energy body being comforted and stabilized. It was like this instant change came over her. No hissing, no biting, no more bobbing and swaying. Her little head and her entire body were suddenly very still.
She felt calm and safe enough to let me rub and scratch while moving my hand around on her head, face, chin, and even her neck and chest while she just stood there. It felt good, I could tell.
Stillness, at last.