Giving your cat a nice, soothing massage can bring the pet a host of benefits. Unknotting tired and tensed muscles can allow the cat to perform more of its everyday fun activities. Improving the range of motion of its joints will enable to cat to be as nimble and acrobatic as any other feline. Enhancing blood flow brings critical oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the feline’s body organs, including the brain. This is where massage can provide its most relaxing and calming benefits. Now that you have an idea about what massage can do for your feline friend, the next thing you’d want to learn is how to give your kitty a massage. Here’s your step-by-step guide to a soothing feline massage.
Trim and File Your Nails
Like any other activity, it is important to prepare, too. First off, make sure to trim your fingernails. Any rough or jagged edge can cause discomfort in the animal. Moreover, if you have long nails, you will not be able to use the finger pads to their fullest extent when applying pressure. When we massage cats, we only use the finger pads on certain parts of their bodies like the head and face. Hence, it is best to trim and file the nails so as not to hurt or cause discomfort to the pet.
Observe the Right Time
We do not give massage out of the blue or whenever we feel like it. One has to observe the correct timing for initiating the procedure. In most cases, pet parents wait for their cats to approach them. This is often a sign that the cat is in a good mood for some cuddle time. It means the cat is very open to your caresses or gentle rubbing. For obvious reasons, this is the best time to start massaging the cat.
However, sometimes the cat will not come to you as there are feline breeds that are more independent-minded than others. In such cases, it is best to wait for the cat to be in a relaxed mood before you initiate the massage. For example, if you see it grooming itself, it is a good idea to wait for it to finish its self-grooming session.
It is also critical to wait at least 2 hours after the cat’s last meal before performing the feline massage. Massaging the animal immediately after a meal can increase the risk of regurgitation or vomiting. And since the cat will be in a lying down position, then there is also the risk of aspiration. Two hours is enough time to let the cat digest its food in its tummy and begin their journey in the small intestines.
Get Your Cat “Primed” for the Massage
Before you start with the massage, it is important to check your mood as well. Cats have this uncanny ability to read and “sense” our moods. If they sense that you are anxious or stressed, they will not want to come to you for a massage. If you’re having problems relaxing, try taking several deep breaths. This will help improve the delivery of oxygen in the brain and help enhance the release of mood-regulating neurohormones.
Get close to the cat and talk to it in a soft, gentle, and happy voice. The idea here is for you to set the tone for the massage. It should be relaxed and comforting. Talking to your pet in a calm yet happy manner puts the animal at ease. It may also want to snuggle up to you. If that happens, then there is no need to pick up your cat. Do not ever use a high-pitched voice that is similar to the way most people talk to their cats saying, “Oh, you’re such an adorable kitty!” High-pitched, squeal-like voices can stress out your cat.
Once your kitty is snuggling up to you, use a full hand to caress the animal. Start on your cat’s favorite spot. For example, if the feline’s favorite spot is the area behind its ears, then start here. If it is on its belly, then caress its belly. The important thing here is to start touching the cat at a very familiar place. This will make the animal more amenable to the massage session.
Massage the Cat’s Head and Neck
Massage the sides of the cat’s face. This is a special area known to release mood-calming pheromones. If you watch cats interact with each other, they will often rub the sides of their faces against one another. It calms them down. Caressing this area will also put your kitty in a relaxed and calm mood.
Place your palm over the cat’s head and move it in circular motion. Apply gentle pressure as you massage the top of its head. Move towards the temples and the back of the head. As you work your way behind and around the ears, use your fingertips to massage the area in a circular motion.
Massage the forehead and the cheeks in a circular motion using the tips of the fingers. Apply gentle pressure on the sides of the cat’s face using the palms of your hand. Check to see if your cat likes the massage. If so, it may close its eyes or purr in approval. That’s your signal to proceed in massaging the area around the cat’s eyes, nose, and whiskers.
Start massaging the animal’s neck in a slow and deliberate manner. Be very gentle. Use only your finger pads in applying gentle pressure as you rub the cat’s neck. Make small circular movements as you massage the entire length of the neck. Do not press into the cat’s neck.
Massage the Cat’s Body
Once you’re done massaging the cat’s head and neck, you can start focusing your attention on the rest of its body. Caress its body from the base of the neck straight to the base of its tail. Use gentle and long strokes to put your feline friend at ease.
Rub the animal’s shoulders using your fingertips in small circles. Pay attention to the shoulder joints. Place your hands on both sides of the cat’s body and give it a nice rubdown. Knead the sides in a gentle yet firm manner. This will help loosen up any tight muscles in its body.
Stroke the animal’s back and sides. Apply gentle pressure as you move your hands in small circles. Focus more on the upper back of the animal as most cats are quite sensitive when it comes to their hips and lower back. However, if your pet loves being touched or stroked in this area, then proceed in a very gentle manner.
Move towards the cat’s belly. Some cats can be so relaxed that they will lie on their backs and present their bellies. Knead its belly in a very gentle and slow manner. You can also massage the belly with one hand while stroking the sides of the cat’s head with the other. This will help the animal become more amenable to a belly massage. And since you’re already massaging the underside of its body, you might as well give its chest a nice massage, too.
Massage the Cat’s Tail and Limbs
After massaging the body, you have two options. You can proceed straight to the tail before working on the limbs and paws or you can work on the limbs and paws first before proceeding with the tail. Either way, make sure to give these parts of the cat’s body a nice massage as well. What you should know, however, is that the tail is one of the most sensitive parts of the cat’s body. As such, it would be wise to massage it last.
Massage the limbs by rubbing the entire length with your palms. Use circular motions as you move from the base of each leg to the paws. Once reaching the paw, apply gentle pressure on the center of each paw pad using your thumb. Move the thumb in a circular motion.
Finish off the massage with the tail. Start at the base and work your way towards the tip. Use only very light pressure as the tail can be very sensitive. If you apply too much pressure, there’s a chance that the cat will bolt up and out of the massage session.
Some Helpful Reminders When Massaging a Cat
- Respect your cat. If you notice any form of resistance at any point in the massage session, don’t force it. Stop the massage and find another time to do it. You do not want your cat to have ill feelings about you and about the massage.
- Know that the cat’s skin is very sensitive. That is why you should apply gentle pressure only.
- Take the massage session as an opportunity to evaluate the animal’s coat and skin. Check and take note of any irregularities.
- Feline massages should not take longer than 5 to 10 minutes every day.
Massaging a cat is easy. The key here is to initiate the massage only when the cat is in a relaxed and calm mood. Using only gentle pressure also helps.