This is Mamacita, the formerly feral mama cat who now lives in my studio.
In my book (just released!!!) Our Horses, Ourselves: Discovering the Common Body, I devote a chapter to the nuances of touch. Besides TTouch (developed by Linda Tellington-Jones), I explore how understanding the developmental stages of touch can help us to become more intentional and mindful with our touch, whether with humans, horses, cats, dogs, or your morning tea.
Those stages are, in order, yield, push, reach, grasp and pull. They are the usual sequence in which infant movement develops in relationship to the world and what she wants to be close to, or bring close.
For the first six years of knowing Mamacita, I could not touch her. She was very fearful, but also curiously connected. We fed her, built an outdoor shelter for her, and then one winter, she decided that coming into the house might be a good idea. That was probably year seven.
I spent a lot of time sitting and breathing and making myself less scary. Touches developed. Slowly, with frequent setbacks.
Today, Mamacita’s favorite human is one that is lying on the floor so that she can do her verson of Contact Improvisation. I can lift her, carry her, roll with her, tumble with her.
This morning, I experienced a revelation. Mamacita, I realized, was doing ALL OF THOSE TOUCH STAGES AT ONCE WITH DIFFERENT PARTS OF HER BODY!!! Her back yielded into my legs, her nose and head pushed at mine, her paws reached, grasped (claws) as she pulled herself toward me.
I love what I learn daily from my creature companions. I love the wordlessness, the openness and the fullness of it. I love feeling the reciprocity – the being touched as I touch.
What are you touching? How are you touching?