All of us creatures get worked up, exercised, frustrated — with life, with each other, with reality, with ourselves. Often it is because we have made a mistake, or others have, or we all think we have.

It’s not that much fun.

Take my cat Megan. She had a cat box faux pas last night. Her business went beyond the box. Afterwards she seemed to be a bit embarrassed. When I approached her, she took off running, then she came back to the problem, agitated. In the next few moments she seemed to be having a bit of an anxiety attack. She has lots of of past issues, needs psychotherapy, maybe not,  perhaps medication, I don’t know. I can identify. We mostly employ gentleness.

We cleaned up the problem, then I took her upstairs to the bathroom. It’s her safe place. She loves the upstairs bathroom. When she was a kitten, this is where we took her to recover after we found her sick and abandoned.

Last night, once in the  bathroom, I talked softly to her, as I always do.  She needed a bath, so I gave her a washing, some shampoo, some warm water, a bit of toe scrubbing. During the rinsing, for a moment or so, I think she thought I was going to drowned her. I didn’t.

She survived for the toweling, which went better than the washing, but then this is not a cat who hates a bath. She rather loves it, applied gently. She is familiar with bathing. — she often has a bath — and she especially enjoys getting dried. She purrs, she wheezes, she rolls over on her back. Afterward she struts the house, quite proud of her new look and feel.

Meagan likes the upstairs bathroom experience so much that sometimes when I even walk by the bathroom, she runs in hoping it is time to get washed, or a least brushed. Hydrotherapy —  for her it kind of substitutes nicely for psychotherapy. Me too.

Cats are kind of simple — like all of us.

What helps them, what helps us, when we have a problem, when we are traumatized, when we get anxious is rather basic.

What helps is the absence of judgment, the foregoing of shame and the abandonment of harshness. What helps is someone else’s care, a safe place, warmth, a loving voice, a happy solution,  a soft towel, a pat or two — these gentle things help.

What is the way back from trauma?

It’s is nicely accomplished, somehow, by getting back to what is gentle.

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