Day 25: Holistic Vets and Acupuncture for Cats — The 30-Day Green Cat Challenge

Reiki for cats, quantum energy for cats, herbs for cats, cat massage, cat acupuncture… These days, cats have many of the same alternative healing therapies available to them as their human companions.  However, many people are suspicious and skeptical of non-traditional healing methods even for humans, let alone for cats.  This is unfortunate because people often endure much suffering for chronic conditions that fail to respond to allopathic medicine.  It is only when they are pushed to desperation, that they then seek an alternative practitioner.  At this point, their condition has worsened and has become much more difficult to treat.

As a student of acupuncture, I’ve seen this pattern repeated many times in the teaching clinic at school.  I’ve seen people with chronic shoulder pain for years who respond immediately to their first acupuncture treatment.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a purpose for western medicine, just that people should be more open-minded to alternative treatments.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to present a couple of alternative healing modalities for cats.  Before anyone writes this off as quackery, please note that the people who practice these healing arts must also be licensed veterinarians.

Acupuncture for Cats

Acu-CatMy first introduction to the concept of acupuncture for cats was an ad I saw in Acupuncture Today for  Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure by Nancy Zidonis. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying the book and I found it was a great introduction to the basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  It explained concepts better than some of my textbooks. However, in terms of practical usage, Furball was way too hyper to hold still for some cat acupressure.  This was clearly demonstrated when I tried to massage “Yin Tang” to “calm spirit” and he promptly tried to nip me.

However, according to the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA), acupuncture is known to have therapeutic effects in a wide variety of animal diseases and it may also be used for pain modification, gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory problems, urinary disorder, musculoskeletal disorders and dermatological problems.  I personally have a hard time envisioning my cat holding still for an acupuncture needle, but I could see older, calmer animals getting relief for joint motility and pain issues.  Hey, I’ve seen so many humans recover from knee, shoulder, back, ankle, wrist pain, etc.  It’s not a stretch to imagine acupuncture helping cats.

If you’d like to find a cat acupuncturist, check out the AAVA site where you can search by location to find an acupuncturist for your cat nearby.  In the United States, AAVA members must also be licensed graduates of a college or school of veterinary medicine.

Holistic Veterinary Medicine

This is actually a broader term that encompasses acupuncture for cats.  According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), “Holistic (or Integrative or Complementary) Veterinary Medicine is the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment.”

It can include a variety of treatments such as modern drug therapy, surgery, nutrition, supplements, behaviour modification, homeopathy, herbs, and veterinary chiropractic.  The holistic practitioner looks at your cat as a whole being, not just a presentation of symptoms.  They’ll consider genetics, nutrition, family relationships, hygiene, and stress factors with a goal of finding the true root of what is ailing your cat.

It was a holistic vet who recommended that I increase the amount of water in Furball’s diet.  This has been immensely helpful at preventing a recurrent incident of blocked bladder as I discussed in Day 21 on natural methods for dealing with struvite crystals.

To find a holistic vet, please visit the AHVMA website.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

Learn more about alternative treatments for your cat and for yourself.  Here’s a good start:

Acupuncture:

Holistic Veterinary Medicine:

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