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
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
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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