What is the best way to pet your pet? Your furry friends would almost certainly cast their votes for pet-by-massage techniques.
We’re not talking about deep, complicated muscle manipulations. We’re interested in specific touch-you can describe it as ‘purposeful petting.’ Start with familiar rubs, and we’ll show how adding some finesse can dramatically improve your touch. By the end of this article, you’ll have fresh ideas that will offer you the best ways to pet your pet.
With cat massage and dog massage, first you choose a technique. Then work it on a particular area. Be sure to pay attention to the massage specifics-hand parts, motions, pressures and speeds, because these specifics upgrade random rubbing to massage techniques. The result is that your touch will be more appealing to your animal.
Because we’re all busy, and massage is the most direct way to:
* Establish rapport with a new animal
* Accelerate the bonding process with a familiar friend
* Socialize a fearful feline or a frightened Fido
* Sooth, whether that soothing is for the animal or for you. It’s hard to stay agitated when distracted with calm touch.
Even Ms. Complacent Kitty or Mr. Mellow Mutt gets bored with monotonous stroking. For people who are away from home for long periods of time, massage is essential in daily animal care to make up for that absence. A four-minute massage session can replace twenty minutes of random rubbing and will get warmer results.
Let’s check it out. A common pet, stroking under the chin, is no longer routine when it becomes “Chin Ups.” Scratching on top of the head transforms into “Crowning the King.” And if yours is a girl, it’s “Crowning the Queen.” Rubbing the upper arm and back area is more intriguing when you consider it “Shoulder Strumming.” And who among us wouldn’t enjoy an “Underarm Tickle?”
Take a moment and look at your hand. There are fifteen hand parts used in pet massage. We’re already familiar with the more common ones-palms and fingers, so let’s explore something new-the knuckle nooks. First we’ll find them. Bend one hand into a fist. Look at the flat surface formed between the first and second knuckle-this is your knuckle nook. You can use one knuckle nook by itself-usually the one formed by the index finger- or use two, three or all four. So next time, instead of fingertips or fingerpads, try “Crowning the King” with knuckle nooks. Same with the cheek area – “Check out those Cheeks” with your new hand part. Just be sure to start very slowly.
“Slow down, you’re movin’ too fast….” was made popular in a song by Simon and Garfunkel. The same applies to cat and dog massage. Sometimes slow is better, and then it’s time for our ‘slow-mo’ speed. Scaredy cats especially like slow motion-very very slow movement. It’s very calming, especially when it’s under the chin or around the cheeks. To get an idea of ‘slo-mo,’ count how many seconds it takes to do a complete technique. Then do it again, and double the amount of time…That’s true slo-mo.
On the other hand, some animals prefer ‘fast ‘n frisky,’ our vigorous speed.
It depends on your animal and the mood you want to create. Some cats enjoy playful “Base Fiddling.” Check out our “Breast Stroking” technique. On a mellow cat, this is a slow, languid caress of your cat’s furry front. On our wonderful Collie, this speed matches pace with her upbeat personality.
We all know about rubbing and gliding. Now add circling to your touch repertoire. Consciously make small circles, some the size of dimes, others the size of quarters. Use your fingerpads, fingertips, or your new hand part, knuckle nooks. Circle your way through “Crowning the King,” and in the spirit of creative touch, alternate and make those circles counterclockwise.
If you want to give your buddy a special treat, wear a bath glove-the different texture brings new sensations.
In pet massage you alternate four pressures: light, featherlight, mild and deep. Practice a massage technique you’re comfortable with, and then vary it using each different pressure. Try “Hand Over Hand and Down We Go” with a featherlight pressure. Gradually work deeper and slower until you’re at a deep pressure.
See how you can significantly alter your touch by adjusting just one of the massage components?
Cat massage started back in 1983, when I was a student at the Swedish Institute for Massage Therapy in New York City. My final paper was entitled “Massage Therapy from a Feline Point of View.” I witnessed first-hand the behavioral improvements that resulted from using massage techniques on a semi-feral cat. The same magic repeated itself with dogs.
Be sure your animal is comfortable, and in case of any distress, stop immediately. Always refer medical concerns to a qualified veterinarian.
Cat massage and dog massage techniques are now used in animal shelters to reduce kennel stress and increase the adoption rate. Workshops are available to educate people for this growing phenomenon. Massage for animals isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Whether in cages or homes, animals welcome the affectionate caress of a massage. (Then they demand it!)
If your animals could talk, they’d be the first to tell you that ‘simply petting is passé, give me a massage!’
So collect your feline friend or your canine companion, and get comfortable. Establish a whole new regime together. We enjoy hours of fun and affection with cat and dog massage. So will you!