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How to Give a Cat a Head Massage: 4 Expert Tips & Benefits

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat Massage

How to Give a Cat a Head Massage: 4 Expert Tips & Benefits

You wouldn’t think giving a cat a head massage would be something your feline would like, but you would be surprised. While not all cats are receptive to being massaged, for some, it helps them to relax, calm down after a stressful event, or feel loved and cared for.

If you’ve been considering giving your cat a massage, starting with the cat’s head and working your way down is best. You must be careful to ensure the cat is indeed enjoying the massage and never try to force your cat to lay still for one.

We’ll give you a few critical pointers for massaging your cat’s head and more in the article below.

divider-catclaw1 The 4 Steps to Give Your Cat a Head Massage

1. Use a Circular Motion

Most felines love to have their heads massaged. To begin, you can start at the top of your pet’s head; using a circular motion, take the palms of your hand and slowly massage the cat’s head. Gradually work your way down to massaging your feline’s cheeks and temples, then use your fingertips to massage their ears.

It’s best to watch how your cat responds to massaging its head, as some cats see rubbing their heads as a threat. If your cat acts anxious or like this is bothering it, it’s best to back off. If your cat acts anxious or tense when you’re massaging its head, try coming back to the head and moving onto the body to see how the cat reacts.

Cat Massage
Image By: Gumpanat, Shutterstock

2. Massage Your Cat’s Neck and Chin

Once your cat is okay with massaging its head, you can work down to its neck and chin. Make sure you rub under the cat’s neck slowly and gently. Make small circles with your fingertips up and down your feline’s neck.

Make sure not to press their neck too hard, or you risk hurting your cat. This is another area that the cat may be sensitive to you touching, so watch their reaction during this step of the massage to see how they act. If the cat is upset, it might be time to take a break and revisit the head massage later.

3. Massage Your Cat’s Face

Once your cat tolerates you massaging its head, neck, and chin, move to the cat’s face. Make small, circular motions on the cat’s cheeks and its forehead. It is possible to use your palms to rub each side of the cat’s face as long as it tolerates the motion.

If the cat enjoys the massage, they may also let you massage around their eyes, nose, and whiskers. Since cats hardly ever get touched on their faces, it might feel good for you to massage there, and the cat might relax and not give you a problem at all.

A British shorthair cat enjoying a massage
Image By: TigerMysterio, Shutterstock

4. Monitor Your Cat’s Reaction

You’ll want to monitor your cat’s reaction throughout the entire process of giving your cat a head massage. If your cat constantly tries to get up and walk away, it might not be in the mood to lie down and be massaged.

On the other hand, if your cat is drooling a little, looking dazed, or even starting to fall asleep, you can be assured that your feline pal is enjoying being massaged and pampered. If your cat tries to scratch you or reacts badly, it’s best to stop the massage. You can try again in a few hours or a few days instead.

If you can successfully massage your cat’s head, you might get the cat to lay still long enough to do a body massage as well.

Cat ball divider 1Things to Avoid When Massaging Your Cat

When it comes to massaging your cat, you should avoid a few things.

1. Applying Too Much Pressure

You never want to put too much pressure on your cat when massaging its head or body. You want the cat to be able to relax, so stroking too hard will have the opposite effect and could end up hurting your furry friend.

woman hands pet and massage on the head of gray and white adorable cat
Image By: PattayaPhotography, Shutterstock

2. Do Not Press on the Stomach

Don’t press on your cat’s stomach when giving a body massage, especially if they just ate. At the least, it could make your cat throw up, and at the worst, you could easily injure your feline by pressing too hard. It’s also better to avoid massaging your cat when it’s in a bad mood, as that could result in you getting clawed.

3 cat face divider

Health Benefits of Massages for Cats

There are also a few health benefits associated with massaging a cat. These include improving circulation, stimulating their nerves, relieving joint pain, reducing anxiety, and reducing muscle pain and spasms. Massage can also be a natural form of pain relief for cats and other animals.

This is also the perfect way to bond with your cat. However, don’t force your cat to lie down for a massage. If this is the first time you’ve tried this, then it’s best to take it slow and see how the cat reacts. Once your cat is used to the head massage, you can move on to the body massage and see if the cat responds well to that, too.

Something Important to Consider

Please keep in mind that many essential oils are toxic to cats. It is safest to avoid using them when massaging your cat at home. Ask your veterinarian before applying or giving any product or remedy to your cat.

3 cat face divider


When giving a cat a head massage, you must be careful that this is what your cat wants. Cats aren’t clingy creatures, to begin with, and many times they don’t like to be touched. Follow the pointers above for giving your cat a head massage, but don’t force the issue if your cat tries to get away or doesn’t want to lie still. Just because the cat doesn’t cooperate at first doesn’t mean it won’t if you try again in a few days.

Massaging your cat is a great way to provide everything from pain relief to relief from anxiety. Give it a try with your cat but keep an eye out for signs that the cat isn’t happy. If the cat tries to leave, let it, and try again another day.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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