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What Is a Cat Massage Therapist? Are They Regulated?

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

tabby cat having a massage

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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Cat massage therapy is a modern holistic approach to veterinary care. It’s becoming more popular and has many benefits, but it requires you to take your pet to visit a massage therapist, which causes many people to wonder about their qualifications. If you want to know more about what a massage therapist is and if they are regulated, keep reading as we dive in to find the answers.

How Does It Work?

Cat massage therapy is similar to human massage therapy. It involves manipulating, rubbing, and applying pressure to the muscles and soft tissue in various ways to help release tension. Usually, the massage therapist will begin by stroking the cat from head to tail and then down the limbs to relax the cat. This action can also help the therapist detect abnormalities or injuries. The therapist will then continue the massage depending on the cat’s needs. The techniques can include light and firm strokes, kneading, skin rolling, and tapping or concussive strokes. Joint movements and stretching can also help improve mobility, and pressure point techniques can increase circulation and soothe muscle soreness.

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

Are Cat Therapists Regulated?

Yes. The only people who can carry out massage therapy on cats are musculoskeletal therapists and physiotherapists. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has also outlined a few guidelines. These state that a massage therapist can only complete treatment after a veterinary surgeon examines the cat in person and refers it to a qualified musculoskeletal therapist. You don’t need a referral for a healthy cat if you want to take them in for a recreational massage, but the massage therapists must stop the therapy if they detect any signs of illness or injury, and they will tell you to book a consultation with a veterinarian immediately. Most experts recommend consulting the veterinarian first to get a recommendation for a suitable therapist.

Where Is It Used?

Most massage therapists will have an office equipped with the tools that they need to perform the massage. It will also have a safe area where your pet can play without getting into danger. However, in some cases, such as if your cat is having difficulty with mobility, you might be able to arrange for the therapist to do house calls.

Advantages of Cat Massage Therapy

Cat massage therapy can have several benefits for your pet. First, it can help relax your cat and reduce anxiety. It can help improve circulation and the range of movement in the joints and reduce swelling and edema, a fluid buildup in the tissues. It’s especially helpful for cats that suffer from osteoarthritis or are recovering from orthopedic surgery. Many vets also recommended massage therapy to help cats recover from soft tissue injuries.

Disadvantages of Cat Massage Therapy

While most cats will enjoy a good massage, some will not, and forcing them into therapy can cause more stress and anxiety than the massage will relieve. In some cases, an acclimation stage can help make the cat comfortable with the massage therapist, but not always. You also should avoid using massage therapy if there is an infection or open wound, and never massage around fractures or tumors. Massage therapy may also not be appropriate for cats with blood-clotting disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does cat massage therapy usually take?

A cat massage therapy session will usually last about 30 minutes. It can take a little longer if it’s one of the cat’s first visits and they’re nervous.

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

How much does a cat massage therapy session cost?

A cat massage therapy session will usually cost $25 to $50, depending on the required techniques and the therapist’s experience. Location can also affect the price, especially if there aren’t many therapists in your area.

Can I provide massage therapy for my cat?

In some cases, a trained therapist might show you a few techniques to do between sessions, and you can help your cat by following the instructions carefully. However, massage therapy can cause muscle tissue and joint trauma if not performed by a skilled therapist, so you should not try it at home.


Massage therapy can help your cat recover from injury and minimize pain, especially those suffering from osteoarthritis or other chronic pain conditions. It can also help your cat recover from soft tissue injury and even surgery, and it can help make them feel more comfortable and relaxed. However, the therapist should be a skilled and qualified massage therapist that your veterinarian recommends, to minimize the risk of damage to the muscles and joints of your pet. Massage therapists are carefully regulated, and only musculoskeletal and physiotherapists can participate in massage therapy.

Featured Image Credit: Ekaterina Kuzovkova, Shutterstock

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