Other gentle tools for taming cats

There are many gentle techniques you can use to tame your feral cat.
Here are some cat-safe alternative therapies and techniques that will help you connect with your foster cat on a different level and work through their fears.

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Use flower essences

Flower essences are a gentle and cat-safe way of addressing physical and emotional issues. They are ideal for timid cats. Put Bach Flower Essences or Australian Bushflower Essence drops on your hand or taming wand before stroking.

If your cat was trapped and has come straight from the streets, via a frightening pound or shelter, Emergency Essence or Rescue Remedy for Pets are a good choice – they help deal with terror, shock, fear and will help your kitty deal with the trauma and major life changes they’ve experienced.

Australian Bushflower Essences customised for timid cats

Australian Bushflower Essences that might help a scaredy cat include:

Buy them online, or through a health food store.

Australian Bushflower Essences for fear-aggressive cats

These other essences may help a cat who is so frightened that they lash out at you:

Don’t use essential oils!

Don’t confuse flower essences with essential oils – they’re completely different things. Essential oils are toxic to cats and shouldn’t be used on or near them. Cats’ livers can’t process some of the substances in essential oils, which can lead to cancer.

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Tellington Touch

Tellington Touch, or TTouch, is a gentle form of body work which involves making small circles on the animal’s body. You can use a taming \wand, feather or your hands to do TTouch.



‘Cats that are fearful will often carry tension through their hindquarters and tail and as a result may be triggered to display defensive behaviours when handled around the hind end. The good news is that a lot of these problems can be overcome with TTouch.

Use two feathers if they’re aggressive

If a cat is worried about contact start by initiating contact with long quills attached to long white dressage schooling sticks. If the cat is really concerned and likely to lash out try using two wands with feathers on the end. This diffuses the focus and as the cat attacks one feather you can start touching the cat with the other one. The length of the wands also means that you do not have to threaten the cat by being too close giving them plenty of space to move or hide if necessary. This approach also keeps the person safe from flying claws and teeth and is a great way to start with cats that habitually hide under the bed or the sofa.

Take it slow and steady

Keep the movement slow and rhythmical and remember to breathe and stay relaxed. Try stroking the cat a few times with one of the wands then give the cat and break and gradually extend the session over several days. A few minutes of TTouch goes a very long way and it is often in the break that most changes occur.

Alternatives to feathers

Practitioners also use fake hands, water colour paintbrushes, cloth on long sticks and so on to give the cat the experience of being touched with a variety of textures. You can also use a paintbrush or feather to stroke the whiskers against the side of the cats face and work over the head to encourage the blinking reflex. A happy cat will rub his whiskers against his owners leg and will also slow blink.

Use the back of your hand, not your palm

Stroking any animal with the back of the hand is far less threatening that being stroked with the palm.This approach also ensures that the contact is not heavy. Cats are perfect for teaching people the slowly, slowly approach.

It is better to work little and often perhaps no more than 5 minutes at a time. If the cat is accepting of contact with the back of the hand or back of the fingers progress to hand contact with a sheepskin mitt covering hand which reduces the amount of heat the cat might feel from the palm of a hand. If the cat is happy with the sheepskin mitt move on to light finger tip contact, gently moving the skin of the cat in slow, one and a quarter circles noting the cats responses and reactions at all times. If the cat is unsure at any point go back to the step where contact was acceptable and the cat remained calm.

Avoid over-stimulation, which may lead to aggression

Over stroking a cat may be the trigger for Relaxation Induced Aggression – that is the cat seems happy being petted then suddenly lashes out and runs away growling. Taking a slow approach and working below the threshold at which the cat has to react can improve the cat’s tolerance levels and builds trust and understanding in a quiet, respectful manner.’

TTouch demonstration

Watch a demonstration of TTouch.

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Cosmic kitty massage

By Gesine Lohr, Yahoo Feral Cats group, gesine.catnation .at. gmail.com

‘Once you can pick up the kib, sit down with towel in your lap, with kib against your chest. Calm yourself. Keep up a constant calm meditative murmur (for ideas, google search for “guided meditation”). Low pitched, slow, flowing, calm. Loving.

You have your head turned away, relaxed, eyes mild.

With kib still against your chest, and NEVER pull your head back and look at the kib – that’s very threatening especially when you’re up close – start to FIRMLY massage the scruff area, slow, wide hand, curved fingers, pull the scruff up as if you were Mom Cat washing that kib.

You are listening to your hand, to the kib. This really is what it feels like.

When you were a little tiny kitten, your mama would see you run, run, running to her…. She was always so glad to see you and to lick you. She would push up your fur, nuzzling you so thoroughly, and lick you all over very firmly. Push, push, push…. she wanted to get to every single place all over you. Here’s a place, and here’s another place….

Slow, we close our eyes and listen….She’d say that’s my puss! and be so happy to see you and to love you. Rub, rub, rub, all the kitty places, all over so fine and loose….pull the way momcat washing face pushes up your kitty face, and back….

You keep doing this, get slower and slower if you can. You’ll tend to speed up, that’s OK, just remember to slow down. With a little practice this gets much easier and your INTENT becomes more clear.

When you’ve got the knack of it, both you and the kitty will be getting calmer and calmer and more centered and still. Together you are.

You can think of all this stuff as a mutual learning/entraining practice.

You start massaging the scruff, then move over the shoulders, back. Do not be too quick to go to the belly and feet – those shall be last. Firm, deepening strokes/pulls/pushes.

As you’re doing this, you’re slowly laying the kitty down in your lap. When you start doing deep belly massage, you are slow, deep, like a big lap of ‘you are Mom Cat’ tongue, again and again.’

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Guided visualisation

By Gesine Lohr, Yahoo Feral Cats group, gesine.catnation .at. gmail.com

‘I really like doing guided visualization type meditative speakings, to cats — and they tend to really love them too.  Just make them up!

[go through relaxing back paws, front paws, tail, belly, chest, neck, shoulders, head, ears]  The Golden Crunchie is coming closer……..you can feel its golden warmth……you close your eyes and feel warmth and beautiful golden light…….now the golden crunchie is passing over your head, you feel warmth like your momcat’s tongue…..it is moving past your chest, healing warmth and expansion……the golden crunchie is moving down past your hips and back legs, all is relaxing and letting go….now the golden crunchie has moved past your hind feet, and is moving away to warm some other kitty……”

Yep, you’ll feel really silly at first! but try it!  Speak with a meditative, slow, low, tone.  Try to imagine the golden crunchie…..(or whatever visualization you make up, the Ur Momcat, whatever), to feel it.

While I’m doing this, I’ll stretch my arms out, and gently tread with my hands…..slow, gentle, and kibs really love this.  You can also give the eye blink/yawn signal — soft glance at the kib, look away, blink, look back, blink at the kitty, yawn.  Then tread some more.  Sometimes you’ll elicit mirror treading.

A number of times I’ve gone somewhere and done this, to one cat in a group, and I open my eyes and there’s an audience, a number of cats all attending.’
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