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The 10 Healthiest Ways to Relax With Your Cat

You're watching your cat lazily clean her paws while she's lounging on her cat tree, and you're thinking she has got to have the easiest life there is… While it's true that cats don't have to do much, they do experience stress. If you're feeling stressed out, your cat can tell by picking up on stress cues from you!

It's a good idea to spend time relaxing with your cats because it calms them, and most cat owners know that those beautiful purring sounds and that soft, warm fur is pretty calming for you too. Let's bust some stress for you and your kitties with some of these relaxation techniques—there are health benefits in it for both of you!

1. Remind Her Of Kittenhood.

When cats are tiny kittens, their mother uses licking as a way to clean and soothe them. Of course, you don't have to lick your cat (that would be weird). There are other ways to reproduce that feeling in your cat. While she's relaxed, try using the pad of your thumb to stroke her face (you might want to start by petting her back to make sure she's in the mood to be touched). Most cats love a good face-grooming. You might be surprised at how much pressure she likes!

2. Give Him A Massage.

If your cat loves having his face stroked, try a full blown cat massage! Just like in humans, massage has many benefits for cats, including stimulation of the circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems. Many cats will even deepen their emotional connection with their owners when they experience massage in gentle, mindful ways. You'll want your cat to feel safe and comfortable when you massage him, so start slow, use gentle touch and begin with "safe zones" like the back. Watch his body language, and you'll discover what he likes and doesn’t like. All cats are different! If your cat doesn't appreciate massage at first, try gentle and methodical brushing with a brush made for cats. On a daily basis, brushing your cat will also act as a calming and relaxing activity for your feline friend.

3. Play With Them!

Relaxing with your cat doesn't have to always be slow and quiet. I've spent countless hours laughing the day's stresses away while watching my cat perform crazy aerial tricks jumping for her toys. Cats need to play because it satisfies their hunting instincts, and most cats will be ready to sleep or cuddle for a while after they've had a good run-around.

4. Give 'Em The Nip.

Most cats love catnip, and they'll get into the nip groove instantly—they may even want to roll around in it! I offer my cats a pinch in a cardboard box that's large enough for them to play in, or even on a towel on the floor. Offer only small amounts at a time until you know how your cat will react to catnip. Need to get your hands on some? Here are some of the best options.

If you leave the house for work, playing with your cat at the end of the day not only makes him or her happy (your cat misses you!) but can help you unwind after a long and potentially stressful day with a little light exercise and some laughter. My cat loves to play tag, so I get to run around the house a bit.

Even if your cat doesn't want to chase you or be chased, dangling a toy and being on your feet after your commute home is good for your body. If you have a cat that's very needy and cries at night (I do), playing with her in the evening can make her feel calm and happy, so she's more likely to let you get the quality of sleep you need to stay healthy. Remember, cats need exercise just like humans! So whether it's short breaks throughout your work day or a long play session in the evening, make sure you're giving your cat exercise to promote a healthy weight, healthy bones and joints, and happy hunting instincts.

5. Cuddle Time.

Incorporate your cat into your own relaxation routine. Love to watch a movie on Friday nights to ring in the weekend? I bet your cat would, too! He may not be interested in actually watching the movie, but he'd love to lie on your lap, on the couch next to you, or in a cat bed nearby. Your cat finds it relaxing just to be near you, and he'll be even happier if you give him some loving petting attention while you're watching.

6. Everyone Loves A Good Treat!

Cats love an occasional treat just as much as you do (though yours probably look, smell, and taste a little different, I would hope). You can find a variety of cat treats online and in stores, and your cat might have favorites. You'll find all types from conventional to grain free, so choose one that's healthy and right for your cat, and give them out responsibly. Not too many!

7. Grow A Cat Garden.

Houseplants are beloved by humans for their ability to turn sterile indoor spaces a little more lively, to help clean the air, and to make us feel happier. But if your cats are anything like mine, they're probably love your houseplants a little too much. If your cat destroys house plants, she might appreciate her own garden! Cats love grasses, and you can buy special cat grass for her or just use wheat grass, oat grass, and other varieties. You both will enjoy watching the grass grow, you'll love watching her munch on it, and she'll appreciate the snack.

8. Listen To Music Together.

Cats like tunes, too! What sounds good to your cat is quite different than what might please your own ears, so try some music made especially for cats. You can find cat music online, and these are often relaxing tracks to listen to even for humans, so find one that you think you can both enjoy. You might like to read while the music is playing—maybe even with a kitty in your lap!

9. Take A Nap.

Do you allow your cat to sleep with you at night? Some cats are active at night, but those who sleep when you do will enjoy cuddling while you both rest. You can try this with a daytime nap, too, and you'll both wake refreshed and ready for some playtime. You may get some purring action, too, which brings me to my final tip on relaxing with your cat.

10. Get Your Purr On.

Lots of people think cats just purr when they're happy, but it's more complicated than that. There's a lot that's mysterious about purring, even to scientists, but we do know this cool fact: Leslie A. Lyons, assistant professor of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, explains that cats purr within a specific frequency range that can improve bone density and promote healing. Studies on the effects of cat purrs on humans are lacking, but this bit of science may be enough to convince you that a cuddle session with your cat purring on your chest (try gentle and slow petting) is a very good idea for both of you.

Emily Parker spends a lot of time laughing with, and at, her two cats, Gus and Louis. When she’s not petting, playing with, or snuggling them, you can find her writing about science- and experience-based articles about how to be a better cat parent to your feline, at her site,

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