This was my most challenging and interesting case to date. The cat and her family are so private, they have all requested that their names be changed. So they have been. I introduce you to Ponce the cat and her hu-mom Maria and future hu-dad Jose. Here's Ponce's story:
Ponce is a very fearful and private cat. She is known for being invisible when company comes over. She has been with Maria her whole life since she was a kitten and it's known that she was taken from her cat mother too early and never really recovered. She has shown herself 3 times to Jose since he has been coming around Maria's house for the last year. This is a HUGE step and has never happened even once with any other visitor. Maria said Ponce and Jose definitely have a strong fondness for each other and Jose has a goal to be able to pet Ponce some day.
As Maria and Jose have gotten more serious, a relocation to Jose's home is in Ponce's near future.
Maria is worried about how Ponce will take the move and has been making mental preparations for weeks. She has picked out where and how Ponce will be relocated to ensure she has as much comfort in her new surroundings as possible.
This is where I come in. Maria asked that I check in with Ponce about the move. My process when communicating with animals is as close to a conversation as you can imagine but without any words. I start the conversation always the same way.
Me: "Hello Ponce"
Me: "I love you"
(usually they say I love you back)
Maria laughed when I shared this part. She said "That's just like her."
This was my first experience where I could sense her in my mind. She was on the right of my inner vision in a corner, crouched but neither laying nor standing. She was against the wall. The corner and the way she pressed against the wall made it look like her back was arched but she was not in an attack position - more like defensive, afraid, worried.
So the interview started. I'll share it here to the best of my recollection.
Me: "Ponce, what do you know?"
Me: "What do you like?"
Po: "Grass. Bugs. Dark places. Blankets."
Me: "Do you feel Maria loves you?"
Po: "It's hard."
Me: "Do you know Maria loves you?"
Me: "Do you know Jose loves you?"
Po: "Yes." - a warmth that I felt in my chest at the mention of his name
At the point we discussed the move, I could feel her fear in my chest.
I asked Maria to describe the house to me. I began to be an interpreter for Ponce and Maria - allowing Ponce to really hear Maria describe the new home and all of its rooms. Allowing Maria to hear Ponce's reactions through me. First Maria shared about the room where Ponce will move into for the first few days...a room she is calling her "Spirit Room." Ponce was elated to be in that room... a sacred space for Maria. When she heard it was in the cellar, that turned her sour. Maria offered a different room out of the cellar. A small room with a desk, but no hiding places. Ponce would rather be in the Spirit room even if it means being in the cellar. Her response to the smaller room was, "no no no no no no no no no."
Maria described a guest room with a king sized bed and really comfy blankets. Ponce immediately responded, "That's my room!" When she spoke of the room they would share as a family, with a king sized bed that would have plenty of room for both humans and cats, Ponce imagined herself stretching between them against each of their legs, cuddled in the blankets and thought, "that's my spot."
At the news of 3 levels of rooms and exploration, Ponce was intrigued. She knew she would be hiding on the upper floor when guests came to visit. She saw lots of possibility by the end of Maria's description of the future home.
In fact, Ponce was no longer in the corner crouched and fearful. She was away from the wall, peeking out, curious and wondering.
Maria wanted me to make sure Ponce knew this was Jose's house they were moving into. I began my connection again with Ponce.
Me: "Hello Ponce."
Me: "I love you."
Po: "That's fine."
I would call that progress.