Acupuncture is the practise of inserting fine, solid needles into the body for pain relief or, in some cases, to help the body deal with other diseases. Our vet Emily has been trained in Western scientific acupuncture, which is a modern approach to the ancient Chinese therapy and has proven neuro-physiological benefits in relieving pain as well as treating some other medical conditions.

How does acupuncture work?

It works through the nervous system. The needles block the pain messages and encourages the production of more of the body’s natural painkillers such as serotonin and endorphins. Acupuncture may also help to reset the body’s normal functioning in some other diseases.

Acupuncture is often used alongside other conventional therapies and it can potentially help to reduce the requirement for medications which may have undesirable side effects.

How can acupuncture help my cat?

Acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain. Most frequently this is the pain associated with arthritis, but it can also be beneficial for other musculoskeletal pain, including muscle strains and muscle spasm. Spinal problems can also respond well.

Other conditions causing pain may also respond, for example, cystitis.

Acupuncture can be beneficial for some functional conditions such as constipation.

In addition, it can help to stimulate the immune system and also boost appetite. It can therefore be used as a supplementary therapy to improve general wellbeing in other medical conditions, such as chronic kidney disease and pancreatitis. Acupuncture has also been used very successfully in treating non-healing wounds.

What will an acupuncture session be like for my cat?

At The Cat Doctor we take a holistic approach and our aim is to keep our patients comfortable and calm throughout the session. The stress of travelling to the vet could block the benefits of the treatment so we perform acupuncture in the comfort of your pet’s familiar and relaxing home environment.

Each acupuncture treatment protocol will be specifically tailored to your cat. Initially a thorough history of the problem will be taken and a detailed examination performed after which a treatment plan will be determined. During the acupuncture treatment itself fine needles will be placed into various points over the body and moved or stimulated a few times. The needles are usually left in for 10 minutes but can be left for between 5 and 30 minutes depending on each patient’s requirements. The initial session usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour and then each subsequent treatment lasting between 30 and 45 minutes.

Acupuncture needles do not stimulate the nerves that cause the unpleasant feelings of pain. Sometimes animals may react as though they are expecting pain, but then relax because it does not occur. Most of the time they accept the fine needles very well and often become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment.

For particularly nervous or anxious cats, a gentle sedative can be prescribed that you can give at home a few hours before their acupuncture session. Most owners are pleasantly surprised by how well their cat tolerates and even appears to enjoy acupuncture therapy.

Is acupuncture safe?

Yes it is very safe when performed by a trained veterinary acupuncturist. Side effects are rare and can usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy. There are very few cases in which we would have to be extra cautious about using acupuncture.

What response might my cat show?

Some cats can experience relief after their initial acupuncture treatment. However, acupuncture isn’t an instant cure and for many cats with chronic conditions it may take a few consecutive sessions before a visible improvement can be seen. Some cats may seem a little stiffer or more uncomfortable for the first 48 hours after treatment; this is not a problem and will improve. Like in people, there are a small percentage of pets who will not respond to acupuncture.

How often will my cat require treatments?

The usual course of treatment is once a week for four to six weeks. After that the effects of each subsequent treatment should last for longer and therefore the frequency of the treatments can usually be reduced.

What is the cost of acupuncture?

An initial four week treatment course will cost £273. If additional sessions are required, each subsequent treatment including the home visit and recheck examination will cost £91.

Acupuncture is a recognised successful treatment, therefore many insurance companies will cover the costs involved. We would always advise that you check your policy or contact your insurance company for further information.

How can I book acupuncture treatment for my cat?

Acupuncture treatment is available for cats who are registered with The Cat Doctor. Please contact us to schedule an appointment or for more information.