Cat Massage: Good for You, Good for Your Pet

Cat Massage

We all love to pet our cats. But did you know cats love to be massaged too? Just like us, cats love to be pampered. Touch is vital for bonding with your pet. Cat massage is a more focused and deliberate way to pet your cat, and the bonus is that it holds surprising benefits for you too! Read on to find out what exactly cat massage is, and why you and your cat need it in your lives.

A Brief History of Cat Massage

The pioneer of cat massage is Maryjean Ballner. She was studying massage therapy in New York in the eighties, and decided to find out if cats could benefit from a good massage just as much as her human clients. She ‘experimented’ with a feral cat whose behavior was shy. The more she massaged him, the more affectionate he became.

Ballner has improved and applied these techniques since then, and taken her trade into cat shelters and animal rescue centers to help calm and rehabilitate homeless animals. Cats in shelters are often enormously stressed, and a gentle, reassuring touch is exactly what’s needed to settle them and help them become rehomed. Ballner believes massage is easy to learn, and essential for pet health and happiness.

Cat Massage is Good for You Too

Happy Cat Massage

That’s right, not only are you pampering your furry friend, but you’re being good to yourself too. As you massage your cat, your cat will benefit from endorphins released as you gently manipulate their muscles. However, the sensation of touch causes your own body to release serotonin, which relaxes you and makes you feel happy. Cat massage may also help lower your blood pressure.

Cat massage is about taking time out from your busy day to focus on your pet. There are no distractions; just you and your cat. This time away from other obligations is exactly the break most of us need in our busy lives, with the added benefit that you’re strengthening the bond between you and your pet. Massaging your cat is almost as beneficial as having a massage yourself! Now if only we could train cats to massage us…

How to Give your Cat the Best Massage

Pampered Cat

Don’t force your cat to have a massage. If they are in a sulk, or won’t come to you willingly, then save it for another time. Ensure your cat is content and relaxed before you start. Equally, make sure you are relaxed too. Cats will pick up on your stress levels, as they can sense the cortisol that we produce when we are anxious or on edge. 

  • Take a few deep breaths and ensure you are relaxed
  • Speak in a gentle tone of voice, maybe telling your cat what you are doing
  • Let your cat smell you, rub their head in your hand, or their usual greeting for you
  • Very slowly stroke your cat from neck to tail
  • Using four fingers, apply very gentle pressure and follow the contours of their body
  • Note anything they enjoy and repeat it
  • Avoid anything that makes them twitch their ears or tail
  • Cup your cat under their chest and use two fingers to gently massage their throat up to their chin
  • As you massage, note anything that feels unusual or different. These are things you can bring up with your vet at the cat’s next checkup, or sooner if you’re concerned.

You should now have a happy, purring or even sleeping kitty! Have you tried cat massage before? Tell us all about it in the comments.


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Christine Whitt
Christine Whitt


5 Responses


October 04, 2018

I fostered a litter of ferral kittens this year and I handeled them just enough to get them homes. But the ladt kitten was a runt and very shy. I let a family with a hiperactive 3 1-2 yr old take her home for a couple of weeks. The kitten hid under the couch, until the mom got her out and would place her pn the lap of the child. He would carefully pet the kitten, and sit still for the first time. Very beneficial for both. When I got the kitten back she was following me everywhere, and nfever stopped purring. The majic of touch.

Susan Anderson
Susan Anderson

September 21, 2018

There is another thing I have discovered my cat loves. You know how if you go to the hairdresser, how nice it feels as they gently brush and pull on hairs? If you take a couple of fingers and pull on the hairs gently, your cat likes it, too. I pull on the hairs on his belly because that’s what he likes, but your cat might like that same gentle hair pull on another part of his body,
My cat goes almost into a trance, just as I do when someone works on my hair.


September 21, 2018

My 6 month old kitten loves to lie on my chest at night, her head on my left shoulder, whike she purrs loudly while sucking her paw. I stroke her from head to tail in a continous pressurized stroke. I do this over and over. She becomes so relaxed it’s almost as if she becomes a piece of velvet draped over me. Vetvet which purrs. No matter how completely relaxed she is, however, she still suckles he paw, and whatever item of clothing I have on. My jammie top becomes wet where her paw is. I don’t care, but it’s strange. Anyway, she loves this deep petting action.


September 21, 2018

My cat loves having her ears, head, chin neck scratched heavily. She closes her eyes and purrs like crazy. She likes to paw my breasts or soft area of the arm. We both win.


September 21, 2018

I have been massaging my animals ever since I was a kid. It really brings the two of you a lot closer. My dog loves it too!

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