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Veterinary Acupuncture For Cats

Dr. Anna LandryCat acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment modality that allows Dr. Anna, here at Metairie Small Animal Hospital, to address a variety of feline health issues and reduce pain in our feline patients. Dr. Anna Landry received her certification as a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA) in 2017 from the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine located in Reddick, Florida. Here are some questions she's often asked by clients:


What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine that originated more than 2,000 years ago. In Eastern medicine, the practice of acupuncture is based on the theory that all living beings have an energy force called “Qi" that circulates along invisible lines known as “meridians” in the body. Each meridian is directly tied to a different organ system within the body. Wherever blockages develop that restrict the flow of energy, illness and disease begin to develop. By stimulating certain points on the meridians using thin needles, these energy blockages are cleared, the natural flow of energy is restored, and in this way, the body is able to heal itself.

From the perspective of Western medicine, these same meridians trace points in the body that correspond with high concentrations of nerve endings that trigger the release of naturally occurring substances to alleviate pain and induce healing. Perhaps the most important perspective is that of cat owners, who consistently see improvement in their cat’s quality of life after receiving acupuncture treatments.

How Can Acupuncture Help My Cat?

Most cats tolerate acupuncture treatments very well. Acupuncture is able to effectively treat a variety of health issues that are common in the lives of cats. Often used in conjunction with Western methods of medical care ranging from diet recommendations and prescription medications to surgical procedures. Acupuncture directly addresses one of the most important and hardest to measure aspects of cat care, pain relief. Cats are incredibly adept at hiding pain. Instinctually cats downplay weaknesses. 

What Conditions Can Feline Acupuncture Treat?

It is important to understand that at Metairie Small Animal Hospital our veterinarians use traditional methods of veterinary medicine to diagnose the condition of a feline patient. After our veterinary staff has performed any medical exams deemed necessary to reach an accurate diagnosis, acupuncture may be recommended to treat conditions such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Asthma
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Where Are The Acupuncture Points For Cats?

Feline acupuncture points are located on areas of the body where nerve endings and blood vessels come together. These can be found all along the musculo-skeletal system.

What Will An Acupuncture Session Be Like For My Cat?

Most cats tolerate acupuncture sessions very well. Feline acupuncture sessions generally last between 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the cat’s particular needs. Thin, flexible gauge needles are inserted at points along the cat’s body. This is often then followed by connecting the needles to an electrical impulse machine that sends soothing impulses through the needles to stimulate the nerves and muscle tissue. However, since cats are often curious, they are more often allowed to roam the room after the acupuncture needles are placed. Sometimes aquapuncture (vitamin B12) and hemoacupuncture (making the acupuncture points bleed) is also used. No anesthesia is required and the cat remains conscious during the entire process.

Cat AcupunctureIs Acupuncture Painful For My Cat?

When performed properly, acupuncture is a painless experience. A tiny prick may be felt when needles are inserted, and sometimes a duller, deeper sensation when the needles hit the acupuncture points. Most cats tolerate acupuncture very well. In fact, some cats are so relaxed during their sessions that they will drift off to sleep. Hemoacupuncture is mainly used at the tips of the ear, tail, or nail beds when there is an excess of heat. This is usually done at the end of a session and does not hurt when performed.

How Soon Will My Cat Experience Results?

It depends! We encourage patients and their owners to give acupuncture time. Some cats will experience relief after their very first session, but others may not start to show improvement until 3-5 weeks after beginning sessions. Others may be lethargic or sleepy the day of a session, which is normal. These effects are an indication that physiological changes are occurring, and they are most often followed by an improvement in the cat's condition, which differs depending on the condition being treated.

Other Types Of Eastern Medical Practices Used To Treat Cats:

In addition to acupuncture, there are a few other Eastern medical practices that are successfully used as an integrative approach to feline healthcare. The use of herbs and food therapy are very common and beneficial in treating feline illnesses. Of course, as a cat owner, you know that cats can be finicky eaters, so food therapy may require some patience on the owner’s part and may not be plausible for some patients. For cats that are accepting of new foods, herbs and medicinal nutritional choices can make a world of difference.

How Frequently Will My Cat Need A Veterinary Acupuncture Treatment?

This depends entirely on the cat and the condition being treated. Once the problem is under control, the number and frequency of sessions typically tapers off to the minimum necessary to maintain quality of life.

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