Mia, Sophie, Prince Charming

Cat Tips

If you find a stray but cannot keep it, try socializing it before finding it another home. Train it to use a litter box and to be petted and held, since socialized kitties stand a better chance of being adopted.

read more

The Best Way to Pet Your Cat

By Natalia Macrynikola

The Best Way to Pet Your Cat

Before Tiger Bomm found shelter in Maryjean Ballner’s home, he was a homeless stray. “He was a tough adoption,” admits Ballner, who lives in Sandy, Utah. “‘Mouthiness’ was part of his repertoire.” It wasn’t easy to teach the scared cat to drop his guard, but after five months, Tiger finally purred softly for the first time. Ballner’s secret to pacifying Tiger? Cat massage.

Your pet can benefit from frequent cat massage sessions, too. With results including stress relief, increased circulation and endorphin release, cat massage not only enhances your pet’s overall health and well-being, but it also deepens the bond between you and your special feline friend.

Petting vs. Cat Massage

Chances are, you already pet your cat. Similar to what you do, cat massage is achieved by using a combination of specific hand parts, hand positions, motions, pressures and speed. But cat massage takes petting a step further: “When we add detail and finesse to our touch, we upgrade petting to massage,” explains Ballner, a licensed massage therapist and author of Cat Massage: A Whiskers to Tail Guide to Your Cat's Ultimate Petting Experience (Griffin 1997). Ballner advocates cat massage techniques that primarily deepen the human-pet bond.

Feline reflexology, a different form of cat massage, encourages the body’s innate healing ability. Based on the theory that the paws, feet and head are a perfect map of the whole body, reflexology is a system of massage techniques that reduce tension and prevent stress-related illnesses. “Stress contributes to 80 percent of all major illnesses, and reflexology acts as a way to minimize the stress,” explains Jackie Segers, certified holistic health practitioner and author of Reflexology for Cats (Bateman 2007).

Our experts recommend the following techniques:

Brain strokes
Gently stroke the middle of the forehead, from between the eyes to the top of the head. According to Segers, this movement may affect the pituitary gland and brain function.

Chin ups
With your full palm, slowly caress from throat to chin. Cats will crane their head up in approval. “You may also want to try light rhythmic finger tapping under the chin,” adds Segers. “It’s both soothing and stimulating, and it has a direct influence on everything in the pelvis.”

Mouth strokes
Massage in small circles around the sides of the mouth and chin. Reflexology holds that this promotes good digestion.

Getting Started

Though reflexology works best when your pet is a kitten, cat massage can benefit cats of any age. Here are four beginner’s steps:

Find the right time
Notice your cat’s natural routine. Then, “choose a time when your feline friend is resting and is not playful or aggressive,” says Segers. She suggests bedtime or nap time for any touch therapy. Because cats react to the moods of their human companions, be sure that you’re also relaxed. Feeling stressed? Postpone the session.

Ask permission
“Never restrain your cat or force touch,” warns Segers. Instead, approach your pet gently, “with love and an open heart so it can feel your intention to help.” As a first non-threatening step, drop your hand to its eye level and near its cheeks. “This is where scent glands are located, so cats are marking you at the same time you’re touching them,” says Ballner. Respect your pet when it’s had enough.

Learn the art of slow motion
According to Ballner, the slower you touch, the more your cat will respond. Even better, remember “no-mo” (no motion), says Ballner. “Simply rest your hand next to your cat, on top of him or even under him and stay still. Learn to just be with your cat.”

Repeat, Repeat
Turn off the TV, music and cell phone. Dedicate four whole minutes to massaging your cat at the same time every day, Ballner suggests. Be patient and when you find a technique your cat likes, stick with it. Your cat will come to expect it and will want to share each day’s favorite moments with you.

“Since we don't speak fluent 'Meow,' the best way we communicate with our felines is through touch, and the best possible touch is massage,” concludes Ballner. “Our cats deserve the best of everything.”

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/lcoccia

Natalia Macrynikola is a Group Editor at Studio One Networks, which publishes The Daily Cat.


Rate This Article
* * * * *

Click a star to rate this article

Posted on January 28, 2010

rxjhnson@yahoo.com says: ya my cat doesnt care a bout massages he just wants food. He always tries to lead me to the kitchen its funny to watch.

Posted on October 24, 2009

Cathie says: My Daisy is very proactive when it comes to having her chin scratched. I just twiddle my fingers and she rubs against them, turning her head this way and that to get all the itchy places.

Posted on August 16, 2009

elliot says: i do all those very day (except for rubbing around the mouth) and my cat is so effectionte and loving...now i know why he is like this, everytime someone mees my cat , they compliment on how much of a beautiful co panion he is. i advise this to all =)

Posted on September 29, 2009

rxjhnson@yahoo.com says: I noticed blood from the vaginal area. What could be wrong with my five year old cat. I never noticed blood before. I cleaned the area with a moist cloth. This occurred 9/29/2009

Posted on August 12, 2009

Connor says: When I scratch my cat behind the ears he tilts his head at a really wowed angle lol it's fun to watch and the neighbor vet says it ok and normal but it's really wierd

Posted on August 3, 2009

Kourtney Holz says: My only cat is 2 years old and he loves to sit on my lap with his mouth slightly open all the time! It's cute! He has no health problems and it's never hot indoors (he's an indoor cat). So I guess that's just how he likes to sit! Then when ever he tries to stretch his neck up or outward to smell or lick anything, he makes a funny snort sound! He breathes alright, so I guess he is just a funny oral sounding kitty! We love him and he is just a unique one of a kind fella!

Posted on April 23, 2009

Ashraf says: i just got a cat of aged only about 5 day.its mother is dead.it is crying whole days,help?

Posted on March 18, 2009

Judi D Johnson says: I have 3 cats, and they get so much massage, love and attention! I find with my three, they all come into the bathroom with me every morning, and they make sure to have a morning rub, while I get ready for the morning tub. He he, I love my babies, and spend a lot of quality time with each and all together,

Posted on March 7, 2009

Guenwyvar says: My kitties like to have their ears "twiddled". I stroke their ears lightly & do little finger pats. They also like being groomed & having their backs stroked & rubbed. I get incredibly loud purring at massage time !!

Posted on March 4, 2009

ymz_mom says: My lil girl and I have snuggle time each morning where she gets a massage. Very rarely can I get away with NOT doing it. She waits for me to get out of the shower and meows at me until I pick her up :) I love it! even if sometimes it makes me a little late for work :)

Posted on February 23, 2009

dimitris says: Thank you so much for such an interesting and instructing article. I would like to add one technique that induces cats to purr. It is taking the side of the cat's head in your palm and start rubbing with your fingers from throat to the side of chin. Cats tend to bend their head into your palm with pleasure. I never met a cat that didn't like this technique.

Posted on February 16, 2009

misti says: all this is true. cats are superhumans and we can learn anything about life from these gifts from God.

Posted on January 22, 2009

Marge Avera says: my cat loves his chin stroked every morning

Posted on January 26, 2009

takeyiea says: cat i like cat is baby cats .

Posted on February 13, 2009

john hough says: our male cat will muscle in between us and then purrs so loud we're awake..its cute but getting old..esp when he won't leave

Follow Us

    Studio One Networks

    Copyright © 2014 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved