Most cat owners may assume that traditional veterinary medicine is really their only option in caring for their furry companion, though they may desire more extensive and holistic treatment options. The veterinary field has been responding to this demand in a variety of ways – by offering alternative holistic treatment options that can either stand alone or work in combination with traditional treatment. Many veterinarians embrace holistic medicines that can be used to treat various physical conditions, and others may provide chiropractic or even massage therapy options to their patients. Now, some veterinarians are uncovering the usefulness of acupuncture in treating various feline ailments.
Brad Bartholomay is a practicing veterinarian located in Casselton, North Dakota, and he has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. Bartholomay first became interested in using acupuncture to treat his patients because he was frustrated that traditional surgery and medicine could only go so far. He admits that while pet acupuncture has become more common in recent years, comprehensive research on the subject is scarce or non-existent. Just like any other treatment or medicine, catupuncture would need to undergo more thorough scrutiny to determine whether it is helpful and therefore worthwhile, but many pet owners are already convinced that it works very well.
The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published a paper in 2006 that stated that more research was needed to determine whether domesticated animal acupuncture was truly helpful. According to the abstract for this paper, there was no compelling evidence found to either recommend or reject acupuncture for the treatment of any condition in domestic animals. That said, pet owners and veterinarians have found acupuncture to be helpful in the treatment of various conditions, like hip and joint stiffness and pain.
Ben Stegman is another veterinarian who is practicing the art of acupuncture on his patients. He first considered introducing this therapy into his practice when he was confronted by a feline patient who suffered from blood clots at the base of his spine, which prohibited blood flow to his back legs. This particular condition normally has a very poor prognosis, and yet the cat’s owner was very dedicated to trying every single possible option. Stegman referred her to another veterinarian who practiced acupuncture, and was pleasantly surprised when the cat miraculously began to recover. He had never seen a cat respond so well or quickly before, and decided that it was well worth undertaking in his own veterinary practice. He now views acupuncture not as a replacement of traditional medication and treatment but rather as a complementary therapy to be used alongside traditional veterinary methods. He doesn’t use any means of sedation as most animals are very calm during the sessions, sometimes even falling asleep. He has treated cats, dogs, horses, cattle and even chickens.
Animals who receive acupuncture can walk around during their treatment if they desire, and Stegman even finds that this can be helpful in determining how effective his treatment is and whether it needs to be adjusted. The acupuncture needles are inserted less than half a millimeter into the skin, and usually fall out on their own once the nerves and cartilage have tensed up and then relaxed.
The Value of Catupuncture
Catupuncture can be very helpful in relieving a cat’s pain without the use of medications. Owners can find this to be very satisfying, as they obviously desire what is best for their feline companion but often prefer non-medical solutions that truly resolve the source of pain, rather than simply covering it up temporarily as medications can do.