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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
When it comes to things in life that are free, it’s safe to say that a legitimate massage is one of the rarest freebies of all. If it’s a massage you want for yourself, or to give as a gift, you have to pay—no one’s giving these things away.
So, how did my two cats, Matilda and Ramona, react when I offered to do just that with the four pet massagers listed below, specifically designed to soothe away their kitty aches, pains, stress, and tension?
They reacted like cats.
In general, sometimes the kitties submitted to being massaged by one of these strange, whirring projectiles for a surprising period of time. More often than not, they were interested in batting them out of my hand, booping the attachments, chewing on whatever piece could fit in their mouth, or ignoring me altogether in the hopes that I would go away.
Some cat massagers were tolerated better than others. Here’s how they stacked up.
The Most Tolerated Cat Massagers
Best Battery-Powered Cat Massager: Paw Wave
Here’s what I liked about it, compared to the Pet Head:
- The wand style handle: It’s top heavy (the motor is located at the tip), but the grasp feels more natural (like a hair brush or microphone) than the wide, awkwardly-styled handle of the Electric Pet Head that requires a full palm grip.
- Plenty of speed options: With five different speeds and three separate massage attachments, there’s enough power in the Paw Wave for a larger animal (a medium to large dog, or a husband, even). I wouldn’t go higher than the second speed on a cat—and if you’re using one on yours, watch them closely to see if they actually like the sensation. The Paw Wave emits a steady, percussive pulse that I, trying it on my calf, found overpowering at the fourth and fifth speeds.
- Versatile attachments: My senior cat Matilda expressed all the signs of contentment—purring, leaning in, elevator butt, eyes half closed, nose turning pink—with the Paw Wave’s triangular attachment, with three curved, rubber-coated points that easily and gently moved in the direction of her fur down her spine. My husband (who has since adopted the massager as his own) likes to use the round suction cup-like attachment for his neck and shoulders.
- Steady and quiet: Both electric massagers emit a motorized sound, but the Paw Wave is steady, unlike the intermittent whirring of the Electric Pet Head.
It may come as no surprise that the Paw Wave, hovering around $100 at the time of this review, is more expensive than the Electric Pet Head, which is currently just under $40.
Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend the Electric Pet Head to anyone, unless you are really good at operating small motorized tools with your palm, have an exceptionally relaxed cat who likes being around sporadic, whirring-sounding devices that touch their bodies, and have $40 to spend on something that will likely become an expensive cat toy in a few days. But ask yourself: If your cat is that relaxed to begin with, does she really need a cat massager?
Another strike for the Pet Head is that the rubber brush attachments can be easily pulled off the head of the tool by a cat with little effort, and they are basically bite-sized, so if you have a curious cat who likes to chew on plastic, or likes gnawing or teething things they perceive to be toys, this a serious choking hazard.
In my honest, hard-earned cat mom opinion, I don’t think anyone needs an electric pet massager for their cat. But, if you are serious about massaging your cat with one, get one you might also want to use: the Paw Wave.
- Length: The Ninjas wand was twice as long as the Patgoal, just over 10 inches compared to the Patgoal’s skimpy 4.75 inches. When you’re dealing with the unpredictable swiping of paws and claws, you need a fair amount of clearance to be out of the strike zone, and the Ninjas massager seemed designed to deliver massage at a safe remove.
- Flexibility: The Ninjas cat massager is made of a flexible, pliable plastic, as opposed to the harder plastic used on the Patgoal. This bendy quality allows you to apply more gentle, even pressure, and better conforms to your cat’s body, than the unyielding, stiff material of the Patgoal.
- Silicone brush heads: The soft, silicone roller heads of the Ninjas wand were clearly designed for kitty comfort—the Patgoal’s tiny roller heads, with their hard edges of rigid plastic, were far less inviting to both of my cats than the rubbery nubs of the Ninjas. In fact, the Patgoal’s hard rollers rub together and make a rattling noise if you shake the product, and now Ramona recognizes the Patgoal as a toy—see her batting it around in the photo at the top.
Ultimately, I’m doubtful that any cat parent needs one of these cheap, basic cat massagers—cats are really good at finding relief on their own for their various itches and grooming needs, and they’re great communicators about when and where they want to be petted and for how long, including their preferred amount of petting pressure.
If your veterinarian has recommended one of these massaging tools for your cat, or if you have an unusual member of the species who might be into this, I recommend the Ninjas Roller, currently priced around $23—I was actually able to get a few massage sessions in on Ramona using this one (she liked it on her face and around her cheeks). While the Patgoal is cheaper ($3.99), I don’t recommend it beyond its novelty, and because it doesn’t come with a warning, I must add that it should be used at your own risk—you have to get really close to your cat when using it, and I narrowly escaped Ramona’s grasping set of claws yoinking it from my hands so she could play with and chew on it instead.
Cat Massagers: Why, Again?
To tell the truth, I think all of these products are pretty ridiculous. Beyond being amusing, or a funny gag gift for the cat person who has everything, do they or can they really help your cat?
Your cat may be different, and I could see perhaps more utility for a bigger, more muscular dog, but I’ve lived with cats all my life, and I’ll tell you that with the exception of the Paw Wave (which my husband has forbid me from giving away), I’m donating the rest of the massagers to the community free pile.
If you still really want one, save your money and look for one there—hey, free massage.