When I told my husband I was writing an article for Hug A Cat Day, he suggested I write about first aid for bites and scratches. Not every cat is fond of a good squeeze. So, this year, instead of just scooping up your cat and risking blood loss, why not skew things a bit in the cat's favor and give your cat a massage?
Sure, people may scoff and ask if you're going to install a tiny cat sauna in your home, but honestly, who doesn't need a massage from time to time?
Older cats in particular tend to benefit from a gentle session, though it's important to be cautious when touching sore areas. Start with a light touch and keep it brief the first time. The first few times, massage areas you already know your cat likes to have touched, later working toward more sensitive areas like the limbs.
Pay close attention to your cat's body language. They'll let you know what they like and dislike. Any sharp or jerking moves usually mean that you should back off of that area and many cats will lean into parts that feel especially nice.
Don't press on bones, instead focus on the muscles, making soft circles with your fingertips, working toward the heart to get blood flowing into sore muscles. Don't be surprised if your cat starts asking to be massaged by leaning against you or returning to the part of the house or piece of furniture where you have massaged her in the past.
There are many great resources for those who want to learn more about cat massage. Check your local paper or ask your vet about pet massage professionals in your area.
Not only can you let your cat enjoy the expertise of an experienced masseuse, a professional has the knowledge and skill to work on animals who have chronic pain or soreness from past injuries. They may also offer pet massage classes, either one on one or in the classroom.
I was lucky enough to take one of these classes from Sue King, a popular pet massage professional in my area (Raleigh-Durham), and my pets have never stopped thanking me.
If you don't have the time or resources to take a class, there are some great books and videos available.
Cat Massage: A Whiskers to Tail Guide to Your Cat's Ultimate Petting Experience by Maryjean Ballner (a companion DVD is also available.)
The Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats by Michael Fox
Getting in TTouch with your Cat by Linda Tellington-Jones TTouch is a bit more than a massage, with benefits beyond the physical. I've personally seen some great improvement in cats with behavioral problems when TTouch was made part of their routine.
There's an abundance of resources available to help you learn more about pet massage... Check it out and with some luck, your cat will hug you back !