useful tool for stress relief and relaxation.

Find the Right Expert An integrative veterinarian can provide advice and recommend an experienced area canine massage therapist to treat an animal’s specific need. At-home or in-clinic sessions may last from 30 to 80 minutes. Having a family member massage a

pet can add calming and bonding benefits, especially in palliative care. A workshop or continuing education course will teach basic to advanced hands-on massage skills. Offering the benefits of therapeutic massage to a dog is one of the greatest giſts we can give to support their happiness and quality of life. It can also work wonders for cats. Karen Becker, a doctor of veterinary medi-

cine, is a proactive, integrative practitioner who consults internationally and writes for Mercola Healthy Pets (

sensitive to touch than dogs, and can become overstimulated. I am hyperaware of the cat’s reactions, and oſten give them more breaks to avoid stress,” she says. “If your cat doesn’t like to be touched,

you just haven’t figured out the best moves yet,” advises Maryjean Ballner, a massage therapist in Santa Barbara, California. “Common mistakes include rubbing, instead of caressing, and going too fast. Felines get the reputation they’re difficult. Pay attention to the basics.” “Although many bones and muscles in cats

and dogs have the same names and locations, they may not be identical in physical appear- ance or function,” Mehrtens says. “A cat’s skeleton is slender, with lean, fluid muscles designed for leaping distances with stealth and agility. Tey’re likely to experience less wear and tear on joints than dogs.” Ballner offers tips to let the cat be the

teacher as to what works best: n Get down to their level. n Approach at shoulder height, not the top of the head.

n Caress using full palms, not just

fingertips. Slower is safe, enjoyable and desirable.

n Caress under the chin and around the cheeks using finger pads and full palms or the flat area between the knuckles.

n Focus totally on the cat for four minutes. Make it routine.

n Voice soſt, soothing, low-tone phrases—not baby talk; maybe repeating, “Oh, you good boy, good boy.”

Susi Rosinski, a certified feline, canine

and equine massage therapist and owner of Ancient Far East Healing Arts, in Tonawa- nda, New York, offers, “Most of my [feline] clients have joint pain or back mobility difficulties. Working on legs and joints aſter they’re fully relaxed helps them, as well as being safer for me, as I slowly add pressure to the areas where they need it most.” “For four minutes a day, cat massage is

therapeutic, whether it’s for you or the cat,” says Ballner. Connect with freelance writer Sandra Murphy

at Bartering is Good for Your Business The Barter Business Exchange, Inc. (BBE) is a network of business


by Sandra Murphy A

lthough the method of massage and results can be similar to that for dogs,

cats have their own rules about how they are touched. “Every massage must be indi- vidualized,” says Katie Mehrtens, owner of Te Right Spot Pet Massage, near Chicago, and a nationally certified small animal massage therapist. “Cats are typically more

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919-469-5538 • November 2018 39

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