The Benefits of Cat Massage
Cat massage therapy has grown increasingly popular in recent years. It is a practice used by feline physiotherapists to ease many different types of pain and to rehabilitate animals after injuries, but it can be simplified to perform at home as a relaxing experience for your cat. Massage is a natural way for you and your pet to bond, and it only needs to take five minutes a day.
There are many benefits to cat massage, both for a cat and their owner. Touching and petting stimulate the release of endorphins in a cat’s brain. This can help ease the pain of minor injuries or aches. Massage can also be used to calm and relax traumatized muscles, reduce arthritis pain, increase range of motion, and reduce scar tissue build up after an accident. It increases circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids, allowing more nutrients and oxygen to get to the tissues and more waste to be flushed out. A daily massage will also bring more awareness to your cat’s health because you will be able to better recognize changes such as weight gain, hair loss, tumours, lesions, or other abnormalities. Petting a cat can also help lower blood pressure in humans, so massage away!
It is important to get yourself into the proper state of mind before performing a massage. After all, the masseur’s intent is what differentiates a plain petting session from a truly beneficial massage. Firstly, take a few deep breaths to relax. If you are feeling anxious, frustrated, angry, or stressed, perhaps it is best to wait for another day. Cats are very intuitive to people’s energies, and an unhappy masseur may result in an unhappy kitty. Before starting the massage, allow the cat to become familiar with your hand. If this is a new friend, offer a treat to ease the recognition process.
When handling the cat, be sure to always use 4 fingers or a full palm; a cat is highly sensitive to a single finger approach. As you are ready to begin, speak in a calm, soothing tone. Try repeating an endearing phrase or singing a song to allow the cat to get used to your voice. While massaging your cat, be intuitive and look for signs of pleasure. Many cats will purr, drool, blink, self-groom, sleep, or even vocalize during a good massage. Start with a full palm stroking your cat’s back from head to tail. Move in slow motion, and repeat for 6 – 10 strokes. This repetition encourages familiarity, and improves relaxation. Try to keep one and on your cat at all times; it will help the massage to feel smoother. Then, use 4 fingers and mild pressure to massage the lymph nodes, and explore all the bony contours of our cat’s body. Feel around for any abnormalities, and take your time. Move your hands slowly towards the head, and begin massaging behind the ears using circular motions. Then massage each ear one at a time. Make sure to be extra gentle when massaging the ears as the skin and blood vessels are very delicate in this area. Follow with a gentle rub of the cheeks, and a vigorous rub of the chin, all the while using 4 fingers or a full palm. Next, draw your hands along the armpits to the cat’s chest and use your nails to scratch the chest. You can then move on to the legs and paws. Massage these extremities as thorough as possible, getting in between every toe. The last extremity to worry about is the tail. Start at the base of the tail and gently squeeze using a full hand, moving slowly towards the tip. You can finish off the massage with a light belly rub (if your cat is not opposed to them), or you could return to the stroking motion along the back, making sure to move as slowly as possible. By now, you should have a purring puddle of fur in your lap.
There are a few safety precautions to remember when giving a massage. The first thing to remember is that attempting physical therapy without a professional’s opinion can be dangerous and harmful to your pet. If you find abnormal bumps, masses, or sores, do not massage these areas and seek immediate veterinary help. A massage can be used to soothe a pet in the waiting room, but should never be an alternative to veterinary care. Use caution when massaging a cat’s ears, whiskers, and tail. Be sure not to pull or exert too much force in these areas. Never use oils, creams, or lotions when massaging your cat, as these can cause irritation to the skin, or more severe reactions if ingested. As a responsible pet owner, remember to never massage your pet when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
By establishing a daily routine with your cat, you will improve their mood, health, flexibility, and their special bond with you. Practice often, and in no time you will be a cat massage expert! Once you know how to give a proper cat massage, share your knowledge. Cat massage has shown to improve the lives of many neglected shelter animals, by increasing their socialization skills and reducing anxiety and aggression. After all, a massage is very beneficial to humans, so why not share the love with our cats?