Acupuncture for Cats
Acupuncture for cats? It’s not nearly as strange as it sounds. In fact, the ancient Chinese practice offers many benefits to felines with little or no adverse side effects.
The treatment works by inserting needles to unblock energy points in the body, normalizing nerve function and circulation to prevent and treat disease. This isn’t a practice you, as a pet parent, should engage in yourself. Feline acupuncture should only be performed by a skilled veterinary acupuncturist (TCM), either in your home or in the TCM’s office.
“Inserting the needles to the proper depth and angle, manipulating them during the treatment and removing them all are techniques that can be achieved only through training and extensive practice. This is why it is so important to consult a properly certified veterinary acupuncturist to perform treatment on your pet”, warns Dr. Christine Cichra of Holistic Veterinary Care of Central Florida.
Acupuncture Benefits for Cats
If you think inserting needles into your cat’s body will cause pain, think again. The procedure is virtually painless and most cats find it relaxing enough to sleep throughout the treatment.
It is most often used to treat arthritis, allergies, asthma, chronic pain, and kidney and liver problems, but it can be beneficial for most health complaints. Acupuncture is also used alone or in conjunction with more traditional treatments to help gastrointestinal disorders, incontinence, various neurological disorders, immunosuppression, lick granulomas and other dermatologic disorders, and problems affecting the reproductive, endocrine, and metabolic systems. Acupuncture can also be a good alternative to chemotherapy or used to lessen the negative effects of chemotherapy on your feline companion.
Choosing the Right Acupuncturist
While it’s possible your current veterinarian is trained to perform acupuncture on your cat, it is more likely you’ll need to find a specialist for treatment. Any acupuncturist you use should be certified by a reputable organization, such as the Chi Institute, the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, or another legitimate institution.
You can find a veterinary acupuncturist by searching the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society’s website. Once you’ve found a few practitioners in your area, make sure to check online reviews and speak with each one to ensure they are comfortable treating cats. You’ll want to find either a veterinarian who will provide in-home treatments or has an office that allows you to remain with your cat during treatment to avoid causing your kitty stress.
Things to Consider
Although some health conditions may respond to a single treatment, acupuncture typically requires multiple treatments before improvement is seen. Some cats may experience a rebound effect, which is a worsening of symptoms during the first 72 hours following treatment. This worsening is only temporary and occurs in fewer than 5% of all feline patients, according to Dr. Marc Bittan DVM at The Holistic Vet. If this rebound effect occurs, Dr. Bittan notes that this “usually is taken to be a good sign, however, because these individuals often do very well following the rebound.”
In most cases, acupuncture should be avoided during pregnancy. Additionally, cats with high fevers, bacterial infections, or cancer, and those who are taking tranquilizers or certain other drugs, are not good candidates for acupuncture.
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