KITTENS

How to Massage a Cat: The Key to Wholesome Awesomeness

Cat with yellow eyes relaxing
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

How I wish I could have a massage! Do you often feel this way as you crack your stiff joints after a long and tiring day? So do cats. When done the right way, a massage can do wonders for you and your cat. But what is the right way, exactly? You’d want to avoid pressing down too hard lest you hurt your cat, but at the same time, you want them to feel the unknotting of their muscles. Sounds complicated? Don’t worry; it’s actually quite fun and easy once you’ve learned the logic behind how to massage a cat properly.

When done consistently, you cannot fail to notice the improved quality of life, the revitalization of energy, and the overall great health that a simple massage offers to your cat. The pleasure that your feline friend will receive from this will keep him coming for more, and you won’t want to deny him this.

A cat feeling comfortable on a laptop

Once you’ve learned how to do it right, you’ll let go of the inherent fear of accidentally hurting your cat. You will then be able to enjoy this pleasant bonding experience fully. Your cat may even return the favor afterward by massaging (kneading) you!

Right after analyzing the benefits of massaging your cat, we will outline how to massage each part of your cat’s body in detail. We have also included the best time to do it, when not to do it, as well as the frequency and approximately how long a massage session should last. Indulge yourself with some handy information below.

The Benefits of Massaging Your Cat

Over a period of time, research has shown that animals reap the same benefits from a massage as human beings. Below are some of those benefits.

Induced Relaxation

The sensations that come with a massage reduce stress. This is especially true if the massage is done to a willing cat. Touching your cat makes him feel loved, important, and closer to you. This significantly reduces aggressive behavior and nervousness and helps your cat relax.

A person giving a head massage to his cat

Touching triggers the release of endorphins in the brain. These help to reduce pain caused by injuries, stiff joints, and may even alleviate arthritis pain among others.

Improved Circulation

When muscles and tissues are stimulated, blood and lymphatic circulations in the body are enhanced. This consequently increases the amount of oxygen contained in cell tissues—hence hastening the repair and healing process. When the blood and lymphatic flow is great, toxin elimination is efficient.

Strengthened Bond

Do you love petting your cat? Your cat enjoys the attention as well. Why not turn this into a session that gives you an opportunity to spend quality time together?

A cat laying on her back and getting a massage from her owner

This not only strengthens your bond, but it also makes your cat feel more secure and at ease around you.

Thorough Examination

A massage session gives you an opportunity to detect any abnormalities on the skin, fur, limbs, and even underneath the skin. Greasy coat, lumps and bumps, wounds, and a high temperature could be indicators of health conditions that need urgent medical attention. Most of them are easier felt than seen.

Improved Quality of Life for You

Did you know that pet parents are actually happier and said to live longer than people who live without knowing the company of pets? According to science, petting animals is good for your health.

A cat feeling relaxed after getting a massage

It alleviates stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves your moods. You have to agree that the sight your cat drooling with the pleasure of your massage isn’t depressing at all.

How to Give Your Cat the Best Massage

If you’ve indulged your cat with a massage session before and he liked it, he will be very receptive to it. But if it’s the first time for both you and your cat, you’ll want to set the right mood first and get him relaxed.

Step #1: Pick the Right Moment

The best time to massage your cat will be when he is inactive. If you can, instead of seeking your cat out, wait until the cat comes to you and looks comfortable around you. You also need to be comfortable and relaxed; otherwise, the cat will sense the tension in your touches and may not welcome the massage. Deep breaths and a relaxed mood would work very well for you.

A cat lying down on the carpet

Try talking softly and soothingly to your cat. This helps him get used to your voice and to establish a friendly nuance. If your cat is the musical type, some soft feline music will do just great.

Also, doing it at least two hours after the cat has eaten gives him some time digest his food. In addition to this, ensure that your hands are clean. Also, trim your nails to avoid hurting your cat. No need to use any massage oils and creams; your clean hands are enough.

Step #2: Stroke Your Cat Gently

Start with your cat’s favorite spot. If you are not sure, a good place would be behind the ears. It’s easy to identify the right spot by the loud purr, the half-closed eyes, and the expectant pause your cat displays when you touch that place. This assures your cat that the experience will be pleasant.

a persong holding a kitty

Once you’ve ensured that the two of you are on the same page, move on to the rest of the body. Leisurely stroke your cat from the top of his head to the tip of his tail. This relaxes him in readiness for the rest of the massage. 6 to 10 strokes should thoroughly do it. Alternating your hands would also be a great idea.

Step #3: Massage the Shoulders

Rub the shoulder blades using your hands in firm circular motions. You can also use your thumb or your index and middle finger together. Massage both sides at the same time to balance the effect—not forgetting the armpits as well.

Step #4: Massage the Back

Use your fingers to make circular, lightly-pressured motions down from the shoulders to the back and sides. If your cat is sensitive around the hind legs, hips, and lower back, concentrate more on the upper back.

Step #5: Massage the Head and the Neck

You can start by massaging the base of the ears using the tips of your fingers. Spend some time working on the head, cheeks, and the chin. Give the cheeks a gentle rub and a somewhat vigorous rub to the chin.

a person Rubbing-Cat-face

Cup his face in both of your hands and use your palms to massage his face gently. With his approval, use your fingertips on the nose, around the eyes, and the whiskers. Massage only one ear at a time and be careful because the skin around the ears is delicate. Without exerting too much pressure, use your finger to rub his neck up and down gently.

Step #6: Massage the Chest

While cupping one hand on his chest, you can massage it using gentle circular movements or by repeatedly pulling your fingers towards the middle of his chest.

Step #7: Massage the Belly

A cat’s belly is very delicate. In fact, most cats don’t like being touched anywhere near it. If your cat is the exception, go right ahead and give him a belly rub using very gentle touches.

A beautiful fat red cat relaxes from a belly massage made by it's owner

To make it easier for him, you can combine it with another part of the body that he likes. For example, one hand could do the belly while the other would be stroking the back.

Step #8: Massage the Tail

Being a sensitive part of the cat, starting with the rest of the body before you get to the tail makes him relax and be more receptive to the massage. Start at the base and work your way to the tip. If he looks ill at ease when you are doing it, he is probably not enjoying it, so maybe you should skip the tail.

Step #9: Massage the Paws

The paws also need attention and care. Use the tip of your finger to rub at the center using circular motions gently. Don’t forget to give some rubbing between the toes.

Step #10: Know When to Stop

Massage your cat for about 5 to 10 minutes once or twice per day. Spending about a minute on each area should do it. As you approach the end of a session, the pressure and the intensity of the strokes should reduce.

Close-up of a cat-lying-down

Start with shorter regular sessions then increase as your cat asks for more and more, but resist the urge to overdo it as it might lead to overstimulation, which might consequently bring out the worst in your cat. It can also hurt him.

Step #11: Post-Massage Stretches

Stretches are important after every exercise—even passive exercise like a massage session. While cats stretch by themselves, there are a few easy stretches that you can engage your cat in just after a massage.

A cat streching herself

Gently flex and stretch your cat’s joints. With your cat lying on his side, bring his front legs back and forth repeatedly for shoulder and bicep stretches.

For a combination of buttock, knee, and pelvis stretch, carefully bring the back legs back and forth repeatedly. This helps in the creation of more space for the production of joint fluid. Give your cat a moment to nap after the stretching session; you could do with one too.

Advanced Techniques to Help Improve the Experience

Like every other activity, putting a few points into consideration can greatly improve the outcome. If your cat really enjoys your massage sessions, consider expanding your repertoire of massage techniques so that future sessions will be even more enjoyable.

A cat lying on her back and looking at the camera

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll discover a hidden talent to be a masseuse.

  • Stroking: This involves the movement of the hand as it glides from the head to the tail and down each leg while applying slight pressure. It is used at the beginning and the end of each session. It helps calm the cat down and prepare him for the rest. It also gives you an opportunity to detect any irregularities in the skin and fur as well as any changes in body temperature.

  • Effleurage: This technique targets muscles and affects the superficial tissues. It involves sliding the whole hand from the paws, up the belly, and towards the heart while applying medium pressure. It improves blood and lymph circulation and can control edema.

  • Petrissage: This is all about kneading with a little more pressure on the skin and muscles. It can help alleviate tense muscles, knots, and muscle cramps.

  • Skin-Rolling: The pleasure that comes with this technique is loved by most cats. The skin is “rolled” from the limbs towards the chest and from the behind towards the head. It not only helps with circulation but can also help detach any attachment of skin to the inner tissues.

  • Successive Stroking: This includes chopping, tapping, and tapotement. Chopping mimics the word. It is done with the edge of the hand using average pressure. It is great for unknotting larger muscles. Tapping also mimics the word. It is repeatedly done on more specific areas using fingers that are held together. Tapotement is a percussive non-harmful slapping using the edge of the hand. These motions are used to vitalize tissues, hence improving circulation.

Wrap Up

Cats appreciate the benefits of a good massage. They certainly enjoy both the session and the effects. To bring out the value of a massage, it should be done at the right time and for the right amount of time. Different techniques bring about different results.

Both you and the cat should get ready for the session. You should take care when handling each part of your cat and be on the lookout for any abnormalities. Learning the art requires patience and practice, but if you dedicate yourself to it, within a short while, you will be an expert cat masseuse.

a woman giving a massage to her cat

While a massage is great for your cat, there are instances when doing it can do more harm than good. When the cat is going through uncontrolled pain or fever, you should not do it. While a massage can relieve pain and swelling, it should not be used as an alternative to veterinary care.

Massages should also be kept off open wounds, fractures, and areas with tumors. Cats with blood clotting conditions should also be handled with extra care.

Did you get all the information that you needed? What else do you think we should have included? Do you have any other tips to share with us? Your feedback is of great value to us; please leave us a comment in the section below.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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