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Why You Should Massage Your Cat

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Why You Should Massage Your Cat

A wonderful way to communicate and bond with your cat is through touch. This is really no surprise as domestic cats and humans are naturally drawn to each other physically. Cats love the stroking and petting humans offer, and humans love to feel a feline’s silky soft fur. But did you know that when properly performed, the power of touch, in the form of massage, can be therapeutic for cats? Here is a list of the primary benefits of massaging your feline:

  • You can discover previously unbeknownst cuts, wounds, or lumps.
  • You can help relieve arthritic pain and joint stiffness.
  • You can detect ticks and other parasites.
  • Massage helps provide relief for diabetes, kidney disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Generally increases circulation of blood and lymph systems and helps eliminate toxins.
  • Strengthens bond and trust between cat and owner.
  • Gentle massage can reduce aggression and unwanted behaviors.
  • Massage can distract your cat while its nails are being trimmed (this will take two people, however).
  • Great for calming nervous cats as “feel good” neuro-transmitters dopamine and serotonin are released in the process of being massaged.
  • Improves coat quality.

So, how exactly do you massage a cat? Start with a basic massage stroke known as effleurage (French for flow or glide). To maximize the benefits of effleurage, generally work towards the heart. For example start with the toes and work up towards the knee and hips. Use a continuous, straight and slow flowing motion. Other massage movements include:

 

Circles

Rotate your fingertips in clockwise or counterclockwise circles about the size of an egg.

Kneading

Open and shut your palm while pressing lightly with all five fingers along your cat’s spine.

Petrissage

A deeper massage that involves kneading, loose skin rolling and gently squeezing muscles. My cat, Mittens, loves this on his hamstrings! Combine this stroke with effleurage to encourage toxin release.

Flexing

After you have warmed-up the muscles with effleurage and petrissage, try gently flexing your cat’s toes, wrists, elbows, ankles and knees, but never with force. You can also try laying your kitty on his/her side and flexing the leg up to the shoulder and back again. Gently shake out the limb with vibrating hands.

Tapotemont

This technique involves a percussion-like movement of tapping and is good to use after petrissage and flexing.

 

To get the most out of your kitty massage session, always pay close attention to your cat’s body language. If  kitty is relaxed continue with what you are doing, but if your cat nips you, turns away or does any other signaling that it is uncomfortable stop what you are doing and try another location. If kitty repeatedly gives you back-off signals than you should do just that; back off and try again another time. A cat just waking from a nap or in a particularly snuggly mood is the cat most ready for a massage.

A word of precaution: Do not try massaging a cat suffering from a fever, vomiting or one that is in shock. Also, while massage is therapeutic, it should not replace appropriate vet care.

The bonus news about all this feline kneading, flexing and effleurage is that it also relaxes you!  Loving contact with animals lowers your blood pressure and calms your nervous system with those same feel good neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, so massage away knowing it is wonderful for both of you.

Check-out the two cat massage videos on the next page. The first is a formal presentation by Animal Friends the other is a funny video of a Thai cat completely blissed-out by a simple shoulder massage. Enjoy.

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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.

198 comments

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5:36AM PDT on Jun 26, 2014

Awwww I massage my cat twice day or more. She absolutely loves it and her purrs are extremely loud. If I stop she will indicate to keep going and when I'm done she splurges me with kisses. 😼

2:03PM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

Noted,thanks

8:30PM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

My cats would have massages 24/7 if I were available to provide them.

3:46PM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

You need a reason to massage your animals? Nah. All of mine love any touching at all, especially massaging on their bellies LOL.

2:03AM PDT on Jun 18, 2014

My cats have signed up for this :) .

11:07AM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

noted

4:08AM PDT on May 31, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

3:36AM PST on Feb 27, 2014

My cat is a grouch and would not permit any of this. I wouldn't mind a massage however... Cat style or any style =)) Loved the video of the guy massaging cat. Total trust on behalf of the cat.

5:43PM PST on Feb 25, 2014

A massage book for human massage suggested massaging dogs and cats as well, and said that massaging the "armpits" felt good. I have found most cats love that, as well as a nice neck and shoulder massage.

1:25AM PST on Feb 24, 2014

Thanks

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