An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Touch Therapy


Touch forms the most basic connection from one being to another. And there is significant research evidence to show that touch can heal: it can reduce pain levels, modulate grief; and induce relaxation, thereby reducing stress and anxiety.

There are many forms of touch which can be implemented by your purrson for your benefit. The form used is less important than the intent. This means that whoever is touching you should be doing so in a relaxed and focused way, rather than just going through the motions while being preoccupied with something else. In other words, touch therapy is not the same as mindless petting.

Many forms of touch therapy can be practised by your purrson (on you, of course) without having to take a great deal of training. This is one area where practice (i.e., lots of sessions with a willing cat) makes purrfect. Your purrson needs to purrfect technique based on your prefurrences and reactions.

Of course there are some purrsons who prefur to engage a practitioner of that touch therapy to see if it will work for you. And those purrsons who are have the monetary means and not the time may prefurr hiring a practitioner for an extended period. Whatever. Try to ensure that the practitioner has a good deal of experience sharing this touch with non-human animals, cats prefurred of course.

I have found that there is a great deal of difference when someone with a lot of  feline experience puts his or her hands on my body; we become very simpatico because I sense the quiet confidence in those hands; and because they don't do anything impolite or foolish - like trying to work on my flanks when I've been angry (which would get an inexperienced purrson a nice nip on the hand).

My point is that there are various forms of touch which have been used with success to help cats with behaviour problems.. Information about them (the forms of touch, not the particular cats) and how to do them is easily available. And there are many options in which your purrson could do without great cost, other than converting some of your cuddle time to this end.

There are four forms of touch therapy that I know have worked for cats: Massage, Tellington T Touch,
Therapeutic Touch, and Reiki. In addition, there is the oldest form of human-feline touch therapy: petting - but in its therapeutic form (i.e., mindfully delivered) I call it Intentional Petting and that is where I'll begin.

Intentional Petting

While we have all experienced petting of our furs, there is a difference when it is done with intention because it is all about you. The touch is slow and gentle - either just above or directly on the fur depending on your prefurrence.  Some of us prefurr a stronger, that is, more pressured touch. Others want a touch that is as subtle as fairy dust.

Have your purrson start at the back of your head (behind your eyes) because starting further forward will only distract you, since we all like to track things that move. Begin with a  slow, continuous stroke.

If the hand is above the fur, then it should “airbrush” your coat from the back of your neck to to the base of your spine and along your tail. Alternatively, keep fur and hand in direct, gentle contact.

Some of you may prefurr that your purrson stroke your head with one hand while allowing the other to move along your body. Your purrson should be able to figure out your prefurrences by the way in which you react; the more relaxed you become, the better.

Once the hand had reached the end of your tail, direct your purrson to gently shake that hand as if to get rid of excess residue from the stroke. Repeat this kind of stroke over and over, slowly and gently - along your back, on your sides or even your tummy if you are comfortable doing so.

Some purrsons have mentioned that by paying attention when this stroking is done, they sense subtle changes - almost like changes in current or in temperature. By systematically going over the area a few times, they may then sense an evening-out (or what I'd call a restoration of harmony). Some areas may  feel empty to the hand that crosses them; at which point your purrson can gently rest the hand on or over the area and imagine filling it up. It's all about restoring balance.

Continue until you have had enough. That may be a short as a few minutes or as long as an hour. You may even fall asleep (your purrson, too). Feel free to take a break: a drink or a short walk, before returning for more touch.Or just walk away when you have had enough.

Whatever happens, it is lovely to close the session with a final stroke along the entire length of the body.


Massage involves manipulation of the body tissue. Maryjean Ballner has written one of the most popular books on this topic, Cat Massage (also available as a DVD). Another good source is the book,  The Healing Touch for Cats by Dr. Michael Fox (and includes both massage and some accupressure).

Tellington T Touch

Tellington T Touch  was developed by Canadian-born Linda Tellington-Jones for work with horses. Her work has now extended to a variety of species. This form of touch involves making small, circular motions with one or two fingers. The website includes a host of information including a demonstration video and a way of finding a practitioner near you.

Therapeutic Touch

Therapeutic Touch was developed by a Professor of Nursing, Dr. Dolores Krieger and a psychic healer, Doris Kunz. There are many variants which started with this method and then added other elements. Here hands are kept off the body but in gentle motion. Refurr to the handout by Barbara Janelle,  A Very Short Course on Therapeutic Touch for Animal Owners which has more details.


Reiki is a gentle form of touch therapy in which the purrson's hands either rest directly on your body or float above it. And there is a form in which no contact is required at all. For further information consult books such as The Animal Reiki Handbook by Kathleen Prasad and My Teachers Wear Fur Coats by Susan Mack and Natalia Krawetz.

Reiki is one of the forms which does require some training (called Initiation).


Here are my tips for working on touch with your purrson.

Have your purrson pick the technique that most appeals to her or him and with which you are comfortable.

Make sure your purrson understands that for an animal the size of a cat, using one hand may be more than sufficient. It is sometimes useful to use one hand to gently stroke your head and back of your neck while the other hand is going about its business - to prevent you from becoming too distracted by the healing hand. It will depend on how you react.

If your purrson selects Intentional Petting or Therapeutic Touch, said purrson should be mindful NOT to move the hand at the front or sides of your face because it is distracting. You'll swear you have seen a mouse or a fly and want to follow it at least with your eyes. If your purrson selects Reiki, make sure the hand isn't put directly on top of your head (and definitely NOT over your eyes) because that can be interpreted as aggressive. In other words, it is to start at the back of your neck and work down.You can then let your purrson know if you want more attention given to other parts of your head.

Whatever option is selected, start your session when you are both relaxed. Unlike petting, this is a time when your purrson's attention needs to be directed solely at you.

Do this at a time that is convenient for both you and your purrson. You both need to be in a quiet mood - not ready to run around and play.

Work when and where you will not be interrupted.

Your purrson must be relaxed, for you will sense any distraction or stress and not settle down. To get in the mood, suggest your purrson focus on you and about how much s/he cares about you; and you can do the reverse. Your purrson should take several slow deep breaths to relax to release the tensions of the day. Set a fundamental goal for your purrson: to keep his or her breathing relaxed for the entire session. 

Throughout the session, encourage your purrson to talk to you quietly, using your name often, speaking slowly and moving the hands slowly and gently. 

If you move away when your purrson is working with you, this may mean you have had enough. However, if this happens when you are receiving Reiki, it may mean that whatever was being done was a bit too intense for you. Your purrson could then try switching from direct contact to floating the hand above you and see if that makes a difference.

Even 10 minutes of your daily cuddle time on this kind of touch would be of benefit.

Good touch therapy requires mindfulness, consistency and patience. The payoffs for you and your purrson are many: a stronger bond between you both, a chance for you both to relax, and a lessening of whatever ails you. What a purrfect way to spend time together!