I know….I’ve done it again. Hamish is a cat. How did this come about? Have I changed allegiances? No…just broadened my horizons.
A Mum of one of the dogs I see, told me of her friend who has a cat that is suffering from arthritis and wondered whether I could do anything to help? OK…they are built similarly to dogs, why not give it a try? I’ve got 5 years of experience working with arthritic dogs helping them with massage and giving advice to Mums and Dads on any adaptations they can make to their house to make life easier for achy older dogs. Should be the same with cats shouldn’t it?
It turns out that Hamish’s Mum is already a human massage therapist and aromatherapist so it would be simply be a case of finding the techniques that cats would appreciate and would be beneficial for arthritis and teaching her an appropriate routine.
I did my usual research to check up on the anatomical differences between cats and dogs. Cats are not just small dogs but have a number of physiological differences largely around diet and internal organs. Interestingly, they are also better drinkers and anyone with a dog knows how useful that would be. Cats are also different socially preferring to be alone rather than in a pack. They can jump and climb whereas dogs tend to be earthbound (except when that squirrel goes up a tree). Apparently dog training is easier than cat training (yeah right!). Claws and teeth are different too but skeletally and muscularly they are pretty similar (see picture).
I prepared a workbook for the training session going back to my AchyPaw Canine Massage workbook thinking which move would work for cats or be good for arthritis. I then replaced all reference of ‘dog’ with ‘cat’ (whoo hoo for Find and Replace), found some images and there we have it – a workbook for Massage for Felines.
Some of the moves I thought would be beneficial were not Hamish’s favourites. He preferred the petrissage (kneading type moves) rather than effleurage (stroking moves) but with some adaptations we built a good routine. It was more a case of Hamish’s Mum learning to massage him with intent rather than simply petting him, using her existing skills for therapy on her own cat.
It was fascinating to see him process the techniques in the same way as a dog with the same “Oooo…what is THAT? I LOVE that move” expression his face that dogs give when first therapeutically massaged rather than petted.
Here we are then, second feline case. One with mobility issues and another for arthritis management. Horizons broadened, skill set increased, new workshop written.