Q. Is there a place for acupuncture and or/chiropractic in treating my cat’s pain?
A. Dear Ms. Rosenberg,
There may very well be a place for acupuncture if your pet is suffering from joint or muscle pain, post-operative discomfort, or some other painful condition. But it doesn’t appear to be that way for chiropractic.
Guidelines for feline pain management developed by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners say that “acupuncture offers a compelling and safe method for pain management in veterinary patients and should be strongly considered as a part of multimodal pain management plan.” The guidelines point out that acupuncture is a minimally invasive treatment that for most animals is generally not uncomfortable and in fact often pleasant. “It is now an accepted treatment modality” for cats in pain, they say.
By contrast, the veterinary practitioners and researchers who developed the guidelines say they have “not found sufficient, reliable, non-contradictory evidence for the use of chiropractic care for pain management in veterinary medicine at this time.”
To learn more about veterinary acupuncture as well as locate a veterinary acupuncturist in your area, check out the website of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society at ivas.org. There is also the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture at aava.org. The two organizations are affiliated.
Additionally, you can look up the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (tcvm.com) or Cura Cure, which was originally affiliated with the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (curacure.org).
Those taking the acupuncture course at any of these organizations must either be a veterinarian or in the latter phases of veterinary school. They all have slightly different approaches, which you can learn about at their websites.
We work with a vet who is an acupunture and chiropractic specialist for horses, dogs and cats. She is fabulous. Chiropractic procedures for cats are different to those for humans, there are not the sort of heavy adjustments used on people. Our vet works along the spine, using pressure at certain points. Our cat had a painful condition in his lumbar spine and it was causing him to limp severly. His back legs and rump were very stiff, likely from an earlier fall. She has worked with him 3 times over the past year, each session ending with acupuncture, and he loves the lot. When the needles go in he starts to purr loudly and then falls asleep. I think the chiropractic society is wrong – they may not have seen good animal chiropractors at work.