Acupuncture is a valued branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and is a standard treatment option for holistic, integrative veterinary medicine. In TCM terms, acupuncture helps to stimulate an animal’s life force, or life energy – called chi or qi. Today, modern science defines acupuncture treatments as a way of stimulating the nerves and neural pathways – improving the body’s electrical/energetic signaling.
Whichever explanation is more appealing to you, we can attest to the fact that dogs and cats benefit from acupuncture treatments. In this post, we’ll address five of the most common feline conditions that benefit from acupuncture treatments.
It’s important to note that cats are instinctively programmed to hide their pain, so they don’t appear vulnerable to prey. As a result, routine veterinary visits are crucial to having your cat’s issues identified and diagnosed early on, optimizing treatment options.

Feline Medical Conditions Commonly Treated By Acupuncture

Happy male vet holding a cat and dog under armsEach type of pet, and breeds within pet species (canine, feline, equine, etc.), are prone to certain health conditions or ailments. Some are genetic, some are accelerated by a pet’s diet or environment, and others are a natural part of the aging process.
Most pets with a diagnosed medical condition benefit in some way by integrating acupuncture into the treatment plan. In some cases, acupuncture prevents the need for medication or surgery, for others it minimizes dosages, prolongs the time before surgery is needed, and/or improves the cat’s overall quality of life. Click Here to read more about acupuncture treatments for pets.  Many people are surprised to learn that cats often tolerate acupuncture needles very well.  We use tiny needles to minimize any discomfort. For patients that remain resistant, other techniques such as needle-free laser acupuncture or aqua-acupuncture can be used.
Here are five of the most common medical conditions that are treated using acupuncture:

1. Chronic pain

Any musculo-skeletal condition, particularly arthritis (see next), is typically accompanied by pain. In addition to being debilitating, chronic pain takes its toll on a cat’s overall health because it compromises appetite, the ability to move and exercise (or play!) regularly, and causes stress and anxiety. Sometimes, even the most loving cat’s chronic pain results in irritability or aggression.
Acupuncture alleviates triggering of pain receptors and can unblock “old pain patterns” that get locked into habitual activation. Since tense muscles also trigger pain receptors, reduced pain, ensuing relaxation, and reduced inflammation also support a more pain-free experience.

  1. Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a joint condition that leads to inflamed, painful, and stiff joints. Arthritis is common in the cat population, especially as cats get older. Since most cats hide pain well, it can be tricky to notice your cat has arthritis without professional assessments and physical examinations by a veterinarian. Typical symptoms of cat arthritis include reduced mobility (most notably when they jump up/down), more trouble using a litter box, and more time spent sleeping or laying down.
Your cat’s acupuncture treatments help to relieve pain, and also reduce joint inflammation, which increases joint mobility.

3. Kidney disease

If your cat is diagnosed with kidney disease, we’ll discuss diet and nutritional strategies to support your cat’s health. Studies show acupuncture that focuses on specific renal pathways can help to keep kidney blood levels on the lower end, while also improving quality of life for the cat. Your veterinarian may also recommend herbal supplements that can boost kidney health and/or overall wellbeing.

4. Asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues

Two of acupuncture’s most common benefits include reducing inflammation and boosting the body’s natural immune system response. Both of these benefits come into play for cats suffering from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions. The standard procedure is to administer allergy medications, but these can lead to toxicity in organs – especially long term. Instead, we prefer starting with alternative treatments if it makes sense, minimizing the need for medication.
Your integrative veterinarian will work to find the root cause of asthma or allergies, conditions that are often the result of environmental factors, and address those. In the meantime, acupuncture can help the body to clear the lungs and airways and to bring the immune system response back into balance. Read, Acupuncture Treats Pet Allergies Safely, to learn more.

5. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD or IBS)

Many cats respond positively to dietary changes that soothe chronically irritated bowels, allowing them to heal. Other cats need extra support. Acupuncture is an ideal, adjunct treatment since it fights inflammation and balances a hyperactive immune system, simultaneously providing pain-relief and increasing appetite.

Look For a Board-Certified “Acupuncture Vet Near Me

When searching for an “acupuncture vet near me,” verify prospective vets are board-certified and have plenty of experience. If you’re wary of acupuncture, talk to your vet about cold laser therapy, which stimulates the same acupuncture points via gentle, soothing laser. If your cat responds to laser therapy, it’s a good sign that acupuncture is a good next step.
Contact Wise & Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center to schedule a consultation and discuss if acupuncture is a good fit for your cat.