Reflexology for cats and humans isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s an ancient practice finding traction in this modern world.
Dating back to 2330 BC, Ancient Egyptian art suggests the idea of massage for healing. And ancient China offers a text on traditional Chinese medicine written somewhere between 2,600 to 300 BC. The pages of emperor Huangdi’s Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine discuss the theory of yin and yang as well as massage and energy point therapies.
The ideas surrounding reflexology were reportedly practiced by Native Americans well before European transplants crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Pinpointing the exact origins of pressure point therapy is tough. And though its roots are hazy, more and more people are learning the benefits reflexology can have for themselves and their cats.
What is Reflexology?
The art of reflexology theorizes every part of the body is connected to another point in the body. Therefore, delivering massage and pressure to certain points can offer relief and healing to the corresponding connected place on the body.
Jackie Segers, cat lover and certified reflexologist, explains, “Reflexology is a cross between massage and acupressure. It’s based on the theory that the feet, as well as the ears and face of a person or animal, contain a perfect map of the body. In other words, they mirror the body.”
In addition to promoting healing in the body, reflexology methods also promote balance in mental and emotional arenas. To put it simply, the aim of reflexology is to activate the energy centers of the body in order to find a balance in the physical and the spiritual.
For example, Segers recommends, “Stroke the area between the eyes in an upwards direction towards the head. This promotes relaxation, hormonal regulation and left brain/right brain balance.”
Segers has long been practicing the art with her own cats and has also written a text on the subject. She recalls her first steps into reflexology for cats and how many would question the approach. Her response has always been to point out reflexology works for people, so why not cats too?
“Humans and animals share similar anatomy and physiology and have identical energy centers and pathways in their bodies. We also deal with many of the same health challenges and experience similar emotions and stresses in our daily lives.”
The Benefits of Reflexology for Cats
Beyond having their minion there to massage their paws, cats benefit from reflexology in the following ways:
- Increases the body’s energy and allows the free flow of qi for overall balanced living
- Strengthens the immune system
- Reduces stress
- Boosts emotional health
- Detoxifies organ systems for better function
- Improves blood circulation
- Relieves pain
- Aids digestion
- Forms tighter bonds between cats and their humans through extra physical contact
To wet your feet in the world of reflexology, here are some techniques and tips to help your cat get used to the healing touches.
Many cats aren’t big fans of being touched on the feet. But you can help your kitty learn to enjoy a paw massage. Help kitty associate paw touches with good things by using positive reinforcement. Start with a gentle, calm finger stroke to a paw, and then give your cat a treat or some love. Gradually increase the touching until your cat is fine with having his feet handled.
Once you’ve arrived at kitty comfort, Seger instructs, “A good way to begin a paw reflexology session is to massage the inside lower leg and paw, which correspond to the spine. This is good for lower back and hip discomfort but can also help the whole body function better, since all the nerves that come off the spine connect to every important structure, gland, and organ in the body.”
All Ears for Calm
Those furry triangles that twitch, flatten, and swivel are responsible for a lot more than hearing when reflexology principles are applied. When it comes to stress and anxiety, stroking the ears can “help release endorphins, those feel-good chemicals similar to morphine, so this is particularly useful for stressful events such as moving house, Fourth of July fireworks, and visits to the vet.”
Learn More About Reflexology for Cats
For a deeper journey into the healing touch of reflexology for cats, check out these resources:
- Reflexology for Cats by Jackie Segers, available for sale on Seger’s website, where cat lovers can also find more info on massaging their cat.
- Healing Touch for Cats: The Proven Massage Program for Cats by Dr. Michael W. Fox
- Cat Reflexology Techniques by International Institute Lone Sorensen
- Pet Reflexology with Reflexology by Sharon
- Feline Palpation and Acupuncture Treatment by CuraCore, Part I
- Feline Palpation and Acupuncture Treatment by CuraCore, Part II
And keep in mind, as with any new practice involving felines, talk to your vet about reflexology for cats.
Besides trying to give your cat the healthiest life possible, “Reflexology offers a reciprocal exchange of love and healing that rewards both the giver and the receiver. When you offer reflexology to your cat, you help rebalance the human/feline bond and create a feeling of unconditional love and fulfillment.”
And to be loved by a cat creates the happiest of energies in a cat lover’s heart!