Massage is a wonderful experience for all of us, wouldn’t you agree? As an experienced massage therapist, I would like to give you some easy tips on how to massage your cat because not only is it a great bonding experience but it is also a good way to be proactive in a passive, gentle way to monitor your favorite feline’s body for any unusual swellings, injuries or painful areas.
First, Do No Harm
It is always a good idea to check in with your Vet before you massage your cat, especially if your pet has had recent surgery, or has arthritis or any other health concerns. Chances are, your kitty’s doctor will think it is a good idea but it is best to ask first.
Cat massage has many benefits and can be done simply and easily by you at home. Just as I mentioned in my article on dog massage, you do not need to be a professional to do this.
Some of the good things that can happen are:
- calming effect
- lowering of blood pressure (for both of you)
- pain reduction
- improved digestion
- deep bonding
What Happens When You Massage Your Cat
When you stroke or massage your cat, certain chemicals are released called Cytokines. These chemicals send a signal to the brain to release endorphins, which are natural pain killers.
Essentially, all the wonderful things that happen to us humans, when we receive a massage, can also happen for our cats.
With your open heart, loving intention, and positive energy, you can share this deep bonding experience with your favorite feline.
How to Get Started
You’ll want to find a time when your cat is not otherwise occupied. When she is not eating or cleaning/grooming herself and is in a relaxed mode. Also, I suggest you wait a couple of hours after your cat has eaten.
If you are a yogi, you can put your mat out and get in a comfortable position and she may well come up to you. In fact, doing yoga with your pets is another great way to connect.
Otherwise, just find the place your cat likes to hang out and doze and position yourself lying down or in a very comfortable seated position.
It is also important to put yourself in the right frame of mind. Just as I suggested in my article on dog massage, there is every advantage in creating a low-key environment before you start to massage your cat. Soft, relaxing music (on YouTube there are so many choices), soft candlelight. I am a great believer that if you are in a calm state before touching your pet, she will pick up on this and hopefully be more receptive to a massage.
Speak in a low, soothing tone to your kitty. High-pitched, squealy noises will not help calm her down. Gently humming is good, too. You love your cat, let her feel that emotion coming through your touch.
Minimize all distractions. It’s okay to put the phone on mute for 10 minutes.
Nobody knows your cat as well as you do, and the areas that she likes to be touched the most. Start with that spot first. It could be the area behind her ears or under her chin. When you start your touch in a familiar part of her body, she will be more open to the further tactile experience.
Using one or both of your hands, start to move in slow circles, ‘outlining’ the contours of the body. You can even close your eyes and just use your touch to tune into your cat’s body. Using the sense of touch instead of sight can be very advantageous when doing a massage.
I find that most cats enjoy having the area under their chin touched and when I am sitting for a cat I do not know, this is where I start to massage them.
Gently put your hands around the head and use circular movements with your fingers on the head and temples and back around the ears. You can use this technique around the face, cheeks, and forehead. Work your way down her neck, without applying too much pressure.
Monitor Your Cat
Get feedback as you are doing all of this. Your cat might keep trying to get up or walk away and just let her do so. She may not be in the mood for the experience at this time and you never want to force it.
If she is looking a little glassy-eyed or purring or drooling, you are there and can carry on for a bit.
After you have worked around the head and neck area, give some long, slow strokes down the body, again using your full hand, not just the fingertips. Find the shoulders and gently knead the muscles, without pinching. Work your way down to the hips, still kneading, but be mindful and alert in case your cat does not enjoy having her hips massaged.
Now, some cats can tolerate and even enjoy their belly being rubbed. Chances are you know if this would be a welcome touch or not. But if your cat lies on her side and you know she likes her tummy touched, then go for it, but use caution. You can move up to her chest and you can even use one hand to rub her back and one to rub her tummy.
Finally, work your way to her tail, starting at the base. This is a very sensitive area for cats, but if you just slowly work your way down her tail, she may enjoy it. If you get a lot of flailing around and you feel her tense up, then just stop and go back to another area that she enjoyed.
The whole massage should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes. Your cat may only want to be touched like this for a minute or two, to begin with, but will get used to it as time goes on. You could try a couple of short sessions during the day, or when you know the cat is at her most relaxed.
As you are doing all these wonderful things for your cat, here you have an opportunity to check her health such as the condition of her coat. Does her fur look clean and groomed? Are there areas where the fur is unclean? This could indicate she is having trouble reaching certain areas and may have some arthritis.
Is the fur sparse in some areas? Perhaps she is over-grooming due to some kind of skin irritation.
As you move your hands over her body, pull the fur aside and check her skin. Make note of any unusual bumps or irritation she may have.
Get used to what your cat’s normal body heat feels like so that you can monitor if she has a fever.
Simply put, the more often you massage your cat, the better you will know when there is anything that raises a red flag and the sooner you can go get her checked by her Vet.
Enjoy the Bonding
That is the most important thing, in my opinion. Enjoy the exchange of energy with your cat like this on a daily basis and, between you, you will find a sequence that you both enjoy. This connection with our companion animals is one of the fundamentals to life, I believe.
Tune into your cat, don’t overthink what you are doing and I am sure you will soon be bonding on a deeper level with your own amazing feline.
Do you have a cat that you massage? Please share in the comments section below any tips you have for this wonderful bonding experience. We could all learn from you!
The famous author Ernest Hemmingway was a cat lover and I would like to conclude my little article here, with this quote of his.
“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”