Important Things To Remember
- Dont massage too hard and dont pull your cats fur during massage you dont want to accidentally hurt your cat during a pampering treatment.
- Never use any massage oils and creams on your cat, your gentle and loving hands are all thats required to give him a massage to remember!
So now you know how to give your cat a massage, check out some other ways to pamper your cat in the comfort of your own home.
Do you give your cat a massage on a regular basis? What tips do you have?
Image: Ivva via Flickr
The Benefits Of Cat Massage
Many experts may recommend to you that you massage your cat, but why is it such a good idea? Do animals get as much from massages as humans do, or is it a waste of your time? Well, the truth is there are many benefits, if you can get your cat sit still long enough to try it. The advantages of massaging your cat include:
- Building the special bond of affection and trust between you and your cat.
- Stress relief for anxious or nervous cats as dopamine and serotonin are released, which are known as feel-good hormones.
- Improving their coat.
- Relieving other medical issues, such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and kidney disease.
With all these benefits, it cant be surprising that most experts will happily recommend that you at least give it a go. There are, however, times that massage may not be advised. These are few and far between, but it is important not to add to any health problems your cat may be suffering from. Two such examples include:
- If they are suffering from cancer
- If they have a fever
It is always worth discussing with your vet or another professional expert before taking on any new treatments for your cat. They can advise you how best to help with any specific conditions your cat has, and may even be able to advise you on technique. But, for the most part, massaging your cat is a safe and potentially hugely beneficial activity.
Move Onto The Shoulders With Slow Circular Motions
Once youve given the back a good amount of attention, move onto your cats shoulders. Again, using either your thumbs or two fingers together, make slow, very lightly pressured circles around their shoulder blades.
Do this at least ten times, and feel free to go a little longer if it seems like your cat has reached nirvana.
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Ensure That You Are Mentally Prepared For The Massage First
Nobody will want you to transfer the frustrations of a bad day on them, this applies to your cat too. Even though you may not know it, if you massage your cat while anxious and stressed out, it could end up as white-knuckled arm rubs for the cat. Before you start massaging the cat, you should calm yourself down by taking several calming breaths.
Cats are essentially perceptive animals, so if you decide to give the cat a nice relaxing body massage when you are all anxious, it will not appear to the cat like you are actually trying to help it relax.
Old Cat Not Going To Toilet
A senior cat faces a higher risk of constipation for the following reasons:
- Prone to joint and leg stiffness due to arthritis
- Exercise less frequently, leading to obesity
- Weaker immunity and more likely to get intestinal problems
If your cat cannot make it into the litter box, it will hold onto its feces for longer. This leads to harder waste and constipation in senior cats.
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How To Make An Elderly Cat Poop When Constipated
A senior cat should empty its bowels no less than once a day. Any less than that regularity suggests that your elderly cat is constipated.
Keep your cat regular with an age-specific diet and exercise. Provide stool softeners or mild laxatives to relieve constipation. You can also encourage cats to eliminate manually. Rubbing a damp washcloth on a cats anus mimics the sensation of a mother cat licking a kitten.
You can usually treat feline constipation at home, but dont allow the problem to go unresolved for longer than 24 hours. With dietary and lifestyle changes, your older cat should start to go to the toilet regularly.
How Cats And Dogs Benefit From Massage
There isnt a lot of scientific data to confirm whether or not massage benefits animals, but veterinary experts still recommend it.
Their circulation is analogous to ours and their nervous systems are also analogous to ours, which means the benefits that are seen humans can be expected to be similar in , says Dr. Robin Downing, hospital director at The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colorado.
Pet massage can increase range of motion and flexibility, aid in digestion, reduce scar tissue, improve muscle tone and increase lymphatic circulation, says Trish Houser, owner of Smiling Dog Pet Services in Anchorage, Alaska and board-certified canine massage practitioner. Massage is also beneficial to older pets experiencing pain with inflammation, dysplastic conditions and arthritic issues.
It can also alleviate anxiety in pets, says Stacy Litzky, a board-certified canine massage practitioner and owner of South Paw Massage and Wellness in Vero Beach, Florida. It helps dogs by decreasing blood pressure, relieving tension, calming the nervous system and boosting the immune system, which is unable to function effectively when the nervous system is chronically or excessively stressed.
Youll also strengthen your bond and be attuned to problems that may arise, says Houser. For example, You might notice a new lump pop up or soreness in the body that you didn’t realize was there until you touch and massage them, she says.
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Benefits Of Massaging Your Cat
In addition to being relaxing, massage can help relieve pain in elderly or injured cats by helping to loosen tight muscles and reduce swelling in the body, says Dr. Downing. Physical contact can help strengthen your bond with your cat as you spend time together.
Petting and massaging your cat for just 10 minutes can reduce your own stress levels by reducing the amount of cortisol in your body, according to recent research from Washington State University.
Massage can also be a great way to detect small health issues or wounds and prevent them from becoming larger problems. Dr. Schoen writes, If they dont like you touching a certain area regularly, check it out and make sure there isnt a problem there. This is actually an excellent way to conduct a superficial physical exam.
So if you feel a bump or a scab, or if your cat simply HATES to be touched somewhere, make a note of it and check on it the next day. If the problem persists, talk to your vet.
In a heartwarming story of kitty love, massage therapist Maryjean Ballner tells Petfinder about her experience of gently introducing a young feral shelter cat to human touch over the course of a few weeks. Gradually he began to accept being massaged with a soft bristle brush. Then, one quiet afternoon, I heard him purr for the first time, she writes. Needless to say, I adopted him.
Should I Trust Massages And Acupuncture To Cure Feline Constipation
Massage and acupuncture are ancient Asian healing practices in Asia that have been used for humans and pets for centuries.
Some owners give their cats acupuncture or massages to manage chronic constipation.
According to the Veterinary Practice News, Swedish massage has been used in the U.S. and Europe since the 19th century. The report states that if you do this to your cats belly:
- It will reduce pain or discomfort your pet is feeling due to constipation,
- that it takes for a substance to move through your colon,
- Encourage peristalsis , and
- Increase the frequency of bowel movements.
However, massaging cats to ease their constipation can be tricky or even dangerous if done wrong.
If youre planning to go this route, I recommend you learn how to do this at the vet first.
Cats have unique and flexible bodies their intestines and colon may feel like the kidneys and vice versa to the untrained.
Learning cat anatomy removes the possibility of damaging organs with high-pressure massages.
Massaging your cats lower belly could also help them relax.
As such, you can combine this healing technique if youre trying to give her meds or distracting her while the vet checks her up.
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Passive Touch Massage For Cats
When passive touch is applied, it is done with no pressure at all. Your hand is held on a muscle group only. A hand is held on the head, shoulder, along the side or the thigh and hip. This is done for a few moments. It will produce calmness, and help to relieve some pain. Your cat will be comforted by this weightless touch. Passive touch can be done anytime. Again, areas of infection, bony areas, open wounds and lumps are not touched.
Can I Perform Massage On My Cat At Home
Although formal, full-body massage is best performed by a trained individual, elements of cat massage can be easily demonstrated and taught for application at home. In fact, by learning how to perform certain massage techniques and interacting with your cat in this intimate and healing way, you can really expand your relationship with him. The kind of physical contact that is such a critical part of massage can help strengthen the bond with your cat.
“The kind of physical contact that is such a critical part of massage can help strengthen the bond with your cat.”
Please talk to one of us on the veterinary healthcare team if you are interested in learning more about massage for your cat. If your cat would benefit from this therapy, we can teach you how to provide some massage techniques at home.
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How To Massage Your Arthritic Cat
- Ensure that both you and your cat are in the mood for the massage. If your kitty gets irritated after her painful episodes, that may not be the best time to give her a rub.
- Lay your kitty down on a comfortable surface or your lap
- Start to rub her legs concentrating on the joints and the surrounding areas.
- Start gently with slow circular motions
- Your cat should stay relaxed the whole time. If you feel her flinch or withdraw, reduce the pressure or take a break and wait for her to relax.
- Repeat the process every day or as much as your cat wants it.
Ideally, your cat should get massaged by a professional but you can also learn from a trained professional or vet to make sure you dont hurt your cat.
Always consult your vet before starting arthritic cats on any form of therapy, including massage.
Do Cats Like Being Petted
Before explaining how to give a cat a relaxing massage, we need to be clear that the vast majority of cats enjoy the caresses and pets we give them. Cats are domesticated animals. The relationship with humans they have developed retains some childish characteristics. For them, their human care givers are like mothers. The cuddles and affection we give them are not only willingly accepted, but actively sought after.
If we pay attention to our cat’s behavior, we will realize that when they rub up against us, they usually follow the same pattern. They will often start with their head and then continue along their body until they reach the tail. This is because these areas when stimulate with petting or rubbing release pheromones from their glands which produce a relaxing effect. This pattern will help us to understand the best way to massage a cat so that they can feel the most comfortable and relaxed.
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Applying Eye Drops To Cats
The proper administration of eye medication is critical in helping your cat quickly recover from an eye injury or infection. Gently clean away any debris around your cat’s eyes with warm water and a washcloth. Hold the bottle using the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand with the tip pointed downwards. Use the last two fingers of the same hand to pull back the upper eyelid. Place your remaining fingers under the cat’s jaw to support the head. The lower eyelid will act as a pouch to receive the drops. DO NOT touch the eye’s surface with the applicator. Aiming for the center of the eye, squeeze the desired number of drops onto the eyeball.
Symptoms Of A Constipated Cat
As owners, we may overlook our cats constipation unintentionally. Day-to-day life happens, and it can be impossible to be on top of our beloved pets life and know instantly that they cant relieve their stool.
But there are signs of constipation you should be on the lookout, including:
- Lack of excrement Check the kitty litter and note when the last time you cleaned it out.
- Straining or crying in pain Follow your cat carefully, and if they keep on going to the litter box without peeing or pooping when your cat stands on her toes while straining and crying in pain, theres a good chance he/she has constipation.
- Something weird about the stool Dig for signs that something is wrong. A kitty with constipation has a stool thats smaller-sized, dry , or harder-than-usual.
- Check for UTI signs Urinary tract infection in cats is just as painful as the human version. Make sure your cat can pee and poop properly. If there is little to no urine spots, be concerned, and visit your vet.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss Your cat may feel bloated and refuse to eat entirely, which leads to weight loss pretty quickly.
Generally, your feline should produce stool every 48 to 72 hours. Bowel movements remove toxins from the body, so imagine what problems constipation could cause a cats tiny frame.
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Developing Your Cat Massage
Now that we know the fundamentals of how to give a cat a massage, you can step up your cat massage game by using accessories. These include special massage toys with textured sides or rollers with bumps to make it more enjoyable for the cat.
These massage devices act as part of the environmental enrichment of the cat. There are also different techniques and types of massage which you can give your pet, but most of them are simply variations on the same theme we have provided here.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Give a Cat a Massage, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.
Giving Your Cat The Best Massage
- Move to a quiet peaceful environment. Your home should be quiet and tranquil enough for a massage but if you are throwing a party, maybe not.
- Start with a willing cat. Preferably, let your cat come to you. Do not try massaging your cat if she is not in the mood.
- Start with slow mild caresses. The pressure should be very subtle at the start.
- Stroke her breast area still at a slow speed and mild pressure. After she is comfortable, you can start increasing the pace of the motion slowly. If it is well-received, go ahead. If it isnt, reduce the speed.
- Move to the chin area and use two fingers to apply gentle strokes up and down. Each stroke should run from her throat to the tip of her chin.
- If your cat opens up her chin to you, she is loving it. Continue with this motion until you feel it is enough.
- Get creative with your moves. But avoid squeezing and kneading motions.
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Massaging Your Cats Head
As weve already advised, cats heads can be particularly sensitive, but it can also be an area that carries a lot of stress. Your cat will get a lot from a good head massage, if they are relaxed enough to enjoy it. Here are some suggested cat head massage techniques and advice to help your cat get the most out of any head massage you give them:
- Start with broader circular motions using your entire palm. It can be quite easy to transition from stroking to these palm movements, which can keep your cat at ease for the massage
- Transfer to using your fingers, if it does not startle your cat, and massage the back of their head, temples and behind the ears with circular motions.
- Try moving these circular motions to their chin and neck, but do not press into their neck as it will choke them and startle them.
- Move to their cheeks and forehead, continuing to use these small, circular motions with even pressure.
- If your cat is relaxed enough, they may even let you gently rub around his eyes, whiskers or on his nose. Make sure your finger nails are short and that you arent about to shock your cat into any sudden movements.
- Finally, return to using your palms to rub the sides of their face, and keep stroking them to keep them relaxed as long as possible.
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. When providing a relaxing massage to your cat, try starting your massage session with gentle rubs in a circular motion on your cat’s shoulders, paw pad area, belly. Cats also love a gentle massage between their shoulder blade bones as well. 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 cats next checkup, or sooner if youre concerned.
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