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Most cats enjoy being petted, but a cat massage session takes that quality time to a whole new level. Try these cat-massage techniques, and you’ll help to forge a tighter bond between you and your pet.
Since massages are a bit more intense than simply petting your cat, it is important to ease into the process when you and your cat are relaxed. Start by resting your palms on your cat to build trust. According to Lisa Ruthig, director of animal programs at Bancroft School of Massage Therapy, “the initial places to stroke are the places cats tend to offer you to pet: the sides of the face, the back of the neck, down either side of the spine to the base of the tail, and the tail itself. As your confidence grows, you can add in the sides, belly, shoulders and legs, if your cat agrees.” The strokes you will use when massaging are much slower than those you use when you pet your cat.
While massaging, Ruthig suggests monitoring your cat’s reactions to figure out what areas to avoid, and to tell if your pet is enjoying the massage. If your cat is purring, you can linger in the particular area using varying amounts of pressure. “All cats are different,” says Ruthig. “One may allow only a very light touch or a short session, while another may love deep pressure and long massages.”
The benefits of cat massage range from relieving pain through the release of endorphins to reducing anxiety and behavioral problems. Remember: Fifteen minutes of massage is all it takes to relax your cat and strengthen the human-animal bond.
Stacey Brecher is a freelance writer. She has contributed to Animal Fair magazine, and her blogs have previously appeared on The Dog Daily.