Should You Massage Your Cat?

Should You Massage Your Cat?

by Cuteness

The gentle touch of a massage can be a source of great relief and comfort, and this goes for both humans and our pets, including cats. Cats, like humans, experience ailments which require more than standard medication. With enough knowledge and with gentle hands, you can help your cat reap the rewards of a therapeutic massage.

woman hand petting a Persian kitty cat head, love to animals. vintage photo and film style.

The benefits of massage

The skin is a cat’s largest sensory organ and it is directly connected to their overall wellness. By understanding the benefits of massage, you will be able to strengthen the bond you have with your pet. So, what kind of benefits could a massage provide a cat? Plenty! The benefits include:

  • Increased flexibility, aiding with stiff joints and tightened muscles
  • Mental and physical relaxation, invoking calm and reducing stress. It has also been shown to alleviate anxiety and aggression in nervous cats and improve socialization
  • Increase circulation through stimulation of the muscles and tissues which improves blood flow and releases toxins.
  • Reduces pain, generally from joint stiffness and arthritis
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Creates a general sense of wellness
  • Strengthens the bond and trust between you and your cat

Before you begin the massage

For your first massage session, there are a few things you will want to remember to do. First, you will want to know what your cat normally feels like: all of their normal lumps, bumps and pre-existing conditions. This will help you detect any new abnormalities that you may feel on your cat’s body. You will also want to be on the lookout for signs of illness or injury, such as cat bites or a mass in the abdomen. You will want to check your cat’s glands for swelling; these are located under the jaw, in the armpit, the groin and the upper hock areas. To prevent overstimulation, your cat’s massage should not exceed 30 minutes. Contact your veterinarian if you find any abnormality before proceeding with a massage.

A little kitten is lying on the lap

Forms of massage

Understanding the various forms of massage that you can provide your cat is essential in beginning the process of bonding and healing. Two common forms of massage are effleurage and petrissage.

Effleurage is a series of long strokes, applied with medium pressure, which helps to stimulate your cat’s muscles and tissues. Aiding in blood circulation throughout the body, effleurage is conducted with stroking towards the heart. For example, rubbing from your cat’s paws upwards towards the body.

Petrissage is a massage performed with more intense pressure. It involves kneading, where the compression of the stroke helps to increase tension within the muscles and knots that may have formed. A form of petrissage is called "skin rolling." This technique is beneficial in increasing blood circulation in the skin and underlying tissue layers.

Two other forms of movements can also be effective with muscle stimulation and blood circulation. "Chopping" is a movement involving the edge of your hand applying a chopping motion to a muscular area on the cat’s body in a rapid motion and with medium applied pressure. ‘Tapping’ is the act of holding your fingers together and tapping a particular area on the body. This movement can be centralized to more specific areas on the body. Both are effective in increasing blood and lymph circulation.

Sweet kitten is taking a nap

When not to massage your cat

However beneficial massaging may be, there are certain conditions in which massaging your cat may be harmful and should be avoided.

Do not massage your cat if they have inflamed skin, open wounds, fractures, damage to any tissue or ligaments, tumors or cancer, any cat experiencing heatstroke, a fever, clinical shock, or any pain that is not yet being managed with professional help. Of course, if your cat shows signs of discomfort, stop massaging.

When in doubt, seek professional advice from your veterinarian and a certified massage therapist. A trained professional will better be able to assist in providing your cat with a more thorough and relieving massage.

This article is provided by Cuteness—the go to destination for passionate pet parents. Cuteness has answers to all of your health, training, and behavior questions – as well as the cutest, funniest, and most inspiring pet stories from all over the world.