Feline Stress Relief

two black cats on lap

Giuseppe and Mr. Sunshine on a day when I apparently need a little more stress relief.

Giuseppe took a beating from me yesterday, picked up and squeezed, flipped over and pummeled, his skin pulled and kneaded in great handfuls, even his ears and tail and legs pulled and stretched in different directions.

But he’s a big sturdy kitty and can take this sort of treatment, understanding that this is sometimes the consequence of being on mom’s lap near the end of an overloaded week on a somewhat stressful day—for her at least. He actually enjoyed it, purring heartily all the while and sitting up expectantly on my lap, waiting for the next round of manipulations.

three cats on lap

Cookie, Kelly and Mimi make the day easier.

I often say I’m grateful for sharing my life with animals and with cats especially, and with these cats in particular, and this is one reason why—they understand what I’m doing and I think they even show up just when I need them to.

After more than 30 years of typing, first on typewriters, then as a typesetter on a computer keyboard beginning in the early 80s, I have no small amount of twinges and stiffness and minor damage to the muscles, nerves and tendons in my hands. Add to this the art and craft, painting, framing, crocheting and even gardening and home repairs, and my hands take quite a beating. I am as careful as possible never to push them beyond limits I recognize. What would I do without my hands?

When I’m feeling the effects of overuse in my hands, what better to do than pet a cat? Stretching my fingers and palms and stroking soft fur is soothing to both my hands and my self, their energy seeping up into my palms and fingers, mine released and dissipated into their fur as their warmth eases tired, cramped muscles, especially when simply I tuck my hands completely underneath them, and they begin to purrrrrr…………..

two black cats on lap

Giuseppe and Mewsette provide double the relaxing purrs.

And on a day in a short week where two large projects have overlapped, several jobs need to meet deadlines and situations arise and things aren’t getting done and there’s an issue with another project and the phone is ringing off the hook and there just isn’t enough time for it all, Giuseppe has stretched himself across my lap and I am using the loose skin along his back and neck as a living stress ball, kneading him as if he is bread dough, folding sections of skin against the palm of my left hand and then my right in turn, much the same way he kneads me when he is so inclined.

I talk to a customer, enforcing the schedule for printing and that we can’t wait until next week to finish something, it has to be today, holding the phone with my left hand and calmly talking while I gently pull on the tips Giuseppe’s long pointed ears with my right, first one ear, then the other; he pushes himself up on his elbows and tilts his head in anticipation, kneading my skirt vigorously with his front paws, squinting and purring.

Then I practice my drumming on his abdomen while I think through a design problem while the customer is waiting for the proof and I can’t come up with an idea, keeping time and beating out patterns with my fingertips and the day is flying by while Giuseppe air kneads.

photo of peaches on my lap

Peaches guarding mom's lap.

Several things completed in short order, calls to printers to check scheduling, calls from customers who will be off for Good Friday, all resolved for the moment, I sit back as Giuseppe has rolled over onto his back with my occasional drumming so I can drum on his belly and chest, but I stop drumming and shove my hands underneath him, enjoying the warmth and rumble of his purr on my hands and wrists and wiggle my fingers underneath him, causing him to wriggle in joy and wave his legs around in the air.

Then I slide my arms under him and pick him up and squeeze him against me, kissing him on the cheek and forehead and making questionable noises into his chest and belly. He licks my face and gets his paws tangled in my hair. I set him down and begin kneading again and tell him it’s time to get the heck away from this computer for a while. I know he understands me, whether it’s because this particular phrase is always followed by me standing up and heading for the kitchen or somewhere else that is not my desk or he truly understands me when I’m speaking which I don’t doubt, but he is up on my desk waving his tail happily, reaching a paw for me and ready for the next activity, whatever that may be. He is energized by this, knowing he’s played an important role in my day and helped me in a way only he can. Giuseppe is very pleased with himself.

holding two black cats on lap

Petting two black cats at once on a very busy day.

The day is not over, nor is it the first or last day of this nature, and I freely admit that I enjoy the excitement of it all, most of the time. It’s what I accepted along with choosing to work at home in this field. I am truly grateful to the generations of understanding cats who feel it’s part of their life’s mission to help mom get through the day and who enjoy it as much as me.

Here are a few other posts including cats on my lap—that one-handed photography is a real trick!

And when they can’t fit on my lap or I move around too much they provide stress relief right on my desk, like Giuseppe’s performance the other day!


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.