Acupuncture in cats is something that’s becoming more popular, with more veterinary clinics offering treatment. Does it really work, and is it safe? In this article you’ll discover all about acupuncture in cats including how treatments are carried out.
Plus, the type of conditions that can be treated, and what to expect. You’ll also discover if there are any risks involved and how many sessions your cat will need.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese art of healing. It’s been around for thousands of years, and has been used on both humans and animals.
However, it’s only been used in Western veterinary medicine for the past few decades. Depending on the condition being treated it can either be used as a complimentary medicine, or alternative healing treatment.
How does acupuncture in cats work?
Very fine needles are inserted into certain areas of the body known as acupoints. Like people, cats have 365 key acupuncture points. These are described in Chinese medicine as areas where Qi or life force flows. If they become blocked this causes an imbalance resulting in illness. Acupuncture is said to correct any imbalance, restoring Qi.
If you were to ask a Western veterinarian about acupuncture, he or she would describe it as inserting needles into specific points for stimulating nerve centres, and reducing inflammation. This works by making your cat’s body release endorphins, thus relieving pain.
Surprisingly, most cats tolerate acupuncture very well, so you’d probably find your kitty dozing blissfully during treatment! In addition, cats don’t have the same fear of needles that many of their human owners do!
No pain signals are sent to the brain during acupuncture, so your cat will be very relaxed and enjoy the relief of being pain free. You’ll be happy to hear, sedation is never needed as most cats seem willing to keep still.
In any case, if anaesthesia was used it would probably reduce the effectiveness of treatment. In addition, with the frequency and number of sessions required your cat would be at risk from constant doses of sedation.
Some vets will carry out acupuncture during home visits. This is great for nervous patients as being in the home environment is much more relaxing. If possible try and distract your kitty by placing her near a window. This will help take her little kitty mind off what the vet is doing!
What to expect at your first session
The vet will first of all ask you questions about your cat’s health. A complete medical history should be provided including any past injuries or prescribed medication. Your cat will also be examined, and you may be asked to provide copies of x-rays, or test results from previous veterinary treatments.
It’s also important to discuss any allergies your pet may have, or other points you may feel the vet should know about. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as your cat’s wellbeing is priority.
After the initial consultation you’ll be given a treatment plan. This will include the frequency and number of sessions your vet feels will be needed. Of course, cost of treatment is very important, and some pet insurers cover alternative treatments in their policy. It’s always worth checking up as you could save a lot of money.
What happens during treatment?
As mentioned previously, very fine, sterile needles are used. These vary in length but are generally much shorter than those used on humans. The width of each needle is tiny and even thinner than a whisker.
Though mostly pain free, your cat may occasionally feel a needle enter the skin, but this stops as soon as it’s in position. Many people feel a warm, tingly sensation that’s not unpleasant, and it’s assumed cats and dogs would experience the same thing.
Many cats actually fall asleep during treatment and even purr. This is a true sign of relaxation and possible relief at feeling better.
Acupuncture sessions for cats last anywhere from a few minutes up to half an hour. This all depends on the condition that’s being treated,
What to expect after treatment
It’s possible your cat’s symptoms may become worse for the initial 48 hours after treatment. This in no way indicates failure as it’s quite common to feel worse before improvements start to show.
In addition, your cat may seem lethargic for a while, and again, this is completely normal. I’m sure you’d feel the same after such blissful treatment:)
It may take several sessions before you start noticing signs of recovery, so don’t lose heart if your cat doesn’t appear any better after the first few treatments.
What conditions can acupuncture treat in cats?
Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide range of conditions in cats including injuries, joint pain, arthritis, digestive problems, and lots more.
Arthritis is a painful condition which can affect your cat’s quality of life. Taking a holistic approach by offering acupuncture alongside other treatments can be hugely beneficial.
As I’ve mentioned many times, cats are expert at hiding pain, and the only time you’ll know something is wrong is when you see your kitty limping or starts to avoid the sofa. Cats are known for their graceful, agile movements, so it can be upsetting to see a change in your cat’s behaviour.
Does it really work
Although there’s no guarantee acupuncture will work, many owners find the need for anti-inflammatory medication becomes less. This can happen after just a few treatments in some cases. Arthritis is a common complaint in older cats and dogs just as it is in people. It can be caused by a variety of things including injury from road traffic accidents, or even hip dysplasia. Some breeds of cat are also prone to joint problems.
Acupuncture works by stimulating the production of cortisol. This is a hormone which helps fight inflammation and is used in some pain relief drugs. Getting a dose of cortisol that’s produced naturally in the body is far better for your kitty than any medicine.
Other pain relief hormones including endorphins are also released during acupuncture helping to further relieve pain and soreness.
Kidney disease is another very common health problem in older cats which may be helped by acupuncture. Many vets combine treatments with herbal medication, and there are cases of chronic conditions being reversed.
In addition, neurological disorders, heart problems, skin diseases and many more health problems can be treated with acupuncture.
Some cancer patients can be treated, but there’s always the risk of increased blood flow to cancerous tumours.
A qualified vet will take this into consideration and know which areas to avoid. Sadly,many cancers are untreatable, but at least acupuncture may provide some pain relief. Acupuncture is used to treat side effects from chemotherapy and radiation, not the disease itself. This may help prolong your cat’s life, and help her enjoy a pain free existence.
Are there any risks?
Acupuncture is extremely safe as long as the practitioner is fully qualified. In some instances your cat may feel a needle being inserted, or a tiny spot of bleeding may occur. In very rare cases, infection may develop, but the chances of this happening are very low.
Will acupuncture benefit your cat?
Now you know a bit more about acupuncture in cats, you have a better understanding of how it works. Can it be beneficial to your kitty and will it work for her?
As you’ve learned, it can help a variety of conditions, but you need to be aware that every cat is different. Some respond well to treatment and changes can be seen within a few sessions. Others just don’t respond even after a lot of treatments.
Of course, you need to find a vet who is qualified to provide acupuncture. The best idea to to look for testimonials from happy customers and their pets.
Ask plenty of questions at your first consultation and if you feel at all unsure, don’t waste your money. It’s better to take your time and find a good acupuncturist rather than just go for the first one you find.
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Wishing you a purrfect day