Healing the Inner Feline: Cats and Reiki

You may have heard about Reiki as a treatment for humans, but it can also be used to help animals.

Reiki uses deep relaxation to calm nervous pets. By: fauxto_digit

Sam and his buddy Webster had been passed around a bit.

So Burmese Rescue stepped in, and the 2 cats found themselves living with my friend Donna and her husband, Bill, who already had 2 show Burmese cats, Saba and Nevis.

Webster, a happy-go-lucky guy, fit right in. And so did Sam with the other cats, but he was skittish around people — especially women.


The man at one of their homes had taken care of them because his wife’s health problems were pretty severe. So Sam didn’t know how to interact with women, even with one like Donna who knew her Burmese.

We discussed the situation, and Donna wanted to try Reiki.

How Reiki Works

Reiki is a recognized form of energy-healing that came out of early 20th-century Japan courtesy of Dr. Mikao Usui. It is a holistic therapy that emphasizes the body-mind-spirit-heart connection and the need to bring those elements back into balance. It is also a complementary one and can be combined with surgery, medicine, acupuncture, chemotherapy or even psychotherapy.

It is now used in hospitals, cancer centers, and massage-therapy and wellness centers worldwide.

Many shelters have said it also works wonderfully with animals. “For high-strung or nervous animals, Reiki induces deep relaxation and stress reduction and, over time, can reduce the tendency toward nervousness,” say Elizabeth Fulton and Kathleen Prasad in their book Animal Reiki.

“Reiki is always safe and comfortable for both animal and healer,” they write. “It can be adapted to any problem that affects animals, so it can be used under any circumstances.”

Reiki and Cats

Cats are naturally sensitive to shifts in energy, to the vibrations of worlds seen and unseen. They enjoy Reiki — but on their own terms and usually at a distance to begin with.

A cat may come up to you at some point during a session and indicate that he’s okay with your touching a sore or uncomfortable spot. But it has to be the cat’s call, not yours. “When he doesn’t feel pressured or coerced,” Fulton and Prasad remark, “you’ll usually find that your cat quickly learns to enjoy and seek out Reiki healing.”


This video shows a cat during her first Reiki session:

Zorro, my 19-year-old Abyssinian cross, was not a particularly demonstrative cat, so I made a point of not touching him during our early sessions. As time went on, however, he would sometimes come over and bump his head against me when he felt the need for hands-on treatment.

If there are other felines in the household, you can include them all in the session. I have seen cats taking turns receiving Reiki. And when I gave Zorro his treatments, sometimes another cat would seemingly materialize out of nowhere, eager to get in on the act and soak up some of the Reiki energy herself.

Sam’s Treatment

In Sam’s case, I had to proceed slowly, starting with a half-hour session. He seemed comfortable with the Reiki – and so did Webster, Saba and Nevis. By the end of the session, all 4 Burmese were sitting atop the bookcase headboard on the waterbed, eyes closed, totally blessed out.

Our next session was very different. Sam was lying at the far end of the sofa. I sat down on the other end and began the session. He was even more open to the Reiki this time – in fact, he soon moved over to the cushion next to me.

His eyes gradually became less dilated, and he started purring. A couple of times, he even let me pet him lightly. He let me know that he was happy with Donna and Bill, but that he was frightened of having to leave this home just as he’d had to leave his others.

After that, Sam’s appetite picked up, and he started running up to greet me affectionately whenever I stopped by. And at his most recent session, he jumped right up on Donna’s lap, almost as if he knew this was supposed to be all about them.


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