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How to Massage a Cat: 5 Vet-Approved Tips

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

cat ear massage

Vet approved

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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All cats can benefit from receiving massages, even indoor cats that rarely leave the house. Massages may help alleviate pain, soothe anxiety, and strengthen the bond between cats and their owners.

Many cats enjoy getting pets, but they may still need to get used to getting deeper massages. So, here are some tips and tricks to help your cat begin to enjoy massages.

The 5 Tips for Massaging Your Cat

1. Start with Simple Strokes

Cats can feel uncomfortable if you start massaging them right away. It’s best to ease into the process in increments to prevent startling your cat.

Start petting your cat in long strokes without applying any pressure. It should feel like normal petting, except you’re running your hand from head to tail in one sweeping motion. You can also feed your cat some treats if it makes your cat feel even more comfortable.

cat being massaged on the cheeks
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

2. Pet in a Circular Motion

Once your cat is comfortable with light, long pets, you can start to switch things up by petting in a circular motion. Keep your hand flat and open and use your palm to draw circles along your cat’s back. The pressure that you apply should still be fairly light.

Check your cat’s reaction to see if it stays calm. If you see that it’s enjoying the massage, you can start to move to your cat’s shoulders, the top of its head, and the rest of its body.

cat lying being massaged by owner
Image Credit: Pencil case, Shutterstock

3. Gently Apply Pressure

Now, you can start applying gentle, massaging pressure. Move your palms in a circular motion with just a little more pressure than before. Remember to start light so that your cat remains calm. Cats also don’t need too much pressure, so make sure not to press or squeeze too hard.

Start with one area and expand the circular motion in increments that are comfortable for your cat.

cat massage rub
Image Credit: Ekaterina Kuzovkova, Shutterstock

4. Knead Muscles

After your cat becomes comfortable with light pressure, you can start using your fingertips to apply more pressure. Continue using circular motions with your fingertips. You can start to massage your cat’s shoulders and gently squeeze them.

If your cat is really comfortable, you can move down to your cat’s limbs and gently massage its joints. Just keep in mind that if your cat has arthritis or any diagnosed bony or muscular problems, massages may actually end up being more painful than alleviating for them. So, it’s best to massage such cats with caution and with a veterinarian’s recommendation.

tabby cat having a massage
Image Credit: Ekaterina Kuzovkova, Shutterstock

5. Use Cat Massage Tools

Sometimes, it’s helpful to use cat massage tools. These tools can help apply more even pressure and provide an overall more comfortable experience for your cat. You can find rollers and brushes with raised bumps made to help boost blood circulation. Some cats may also enjoy using cat arches to massage themselves.

It may take some time for cats to get used to massage tools. So, make sure to work in increments to help get your cat accustomed to these tools.

Massage of the cats hind leg
Image Credit: Ekaterina Kuzovkova, Shutterstock

Benefits of Massaging Your Cat

Massaging can be an excellent home remedy that benefits cats. It can help alleviate some muscle tension and minor joint pain. A full-body massage can also improve blood flow and lymph circulation.

Continuous massaging may help improve your cat’s range of motion. It may also have links to improving digestion and lowering blood pressure. Massages can also release endorphins, which can help cats feel happier and more relaxed.


Massaging your cat can improve its health and well-being. Along with having positive effects on your cat’s health, it can also strengthen your bond. So, it doesn’t hurt to get your cat used to getting massaged. Just make sure to be gentle and work incrementally to help your cat feel calm and comfortable throughout the whole process.

Featured Image Credit: Gumpanat, Shutterstock

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