If you've never had acupuncture treatments, you may wonder why someone would even try to stick needles in a cat. But acupuncture has proven helpful for treating various issues for felines, canines, and the humans who love them.
According to PetMD, cited below, acupuncture for cats can help decrease pain or swelling, increase blood flow, release endorphins, relieve muscle tension, and calm anxiety. This isn't a newly-discovered trick; acupuncture started in China over 2,500 years ago.
While acupuncture is now a fairly common practice for animals, that doesn't mean all vets do it. If you're in the market, look for a veterinarian certified in animal acupuncture, preferably one registered with AAVA (American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture), cited below. Go to their website, click on the "Find a veterinary acupuncturist" tab, and type in the name of your state for a list of choices.
"Life force" or "Qi" is essential in traditional Chinese Medicine, and balancing it is a focus of acupuncture for both animals and humans. The life force can be distorted and blocked from pain. In humans or animals, attention to the "acupoints" can help unblock the Qi, which helps with healing.
Let's say your cat has been in pain following an embarrassing dismount from his scratching post. He's been limping, meowing, and not eating much. After thoroughly examining your kitty, your vet will let you know if acupuncture might help. The veterinary acupuncturist may use dry needle, aquapuncture, electroacupuncture, or laserpuncture, depending on your cat's needs.
According to PetMD, dry needle acupuncture is the most common type used for human patients and consists of tiny (and sterile) needles. Aquapuncture involves injecting a liquid substance into "acupoints" to help the stimulation last longer. In electroacupuncture, some needles are connected to electro leads for a stronger stimulation of those acupoints, resulting in better pain management. Laserpuncture is perfect for needle-averse felines and involves using a cold laser device rather than needles to stimulate acupoints.
Where the needles go in depends on your cat and his particular issue. The vet may use acupoints along your cat's back, legs, or face. Your cat may be sore after the treatment, but that's to be expected. After the first session, your vet will design a schedule for further acupuncture treatments and evaluation of your cat's progress.
Quote to remember: "Acupuncture is proof that stabbing someone [or your cat] can make things better." — Robert Southey
"What Is Acupuncture for Cats?"
AAVA (American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture)
"we believe that veterinary acupuncture is more than just a job"