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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Helping and old cat with acupuncture and chiropractic care

Tuesday I took our office cat Mercy to a fellow veterinarian and acupuncturist, Dr. Susan Hites in Savoy Illinois.  Mercy had a day or 2 where she was not walking well,  did not want to be petted or greet people.  My staff is fully aware of Mercy's arthritis in her hip and lower back and faithfully give her the medications, supplement and special diet she needs to keep her out of pain.  They did not see her do anything unusual, but could tell she was  having trouble.  We took  x rays and compared to previous ones from a year or 2 ago,  to see if things had changed in her. Yes, her arthritis in her back and hips had progressed.  Actually I was impressed at how well she has been jumping up on the counters and greeting people as I looked at the films.
Mercy loves to be up on the front counter

There were other choices for pain meds but they don't work well on our Mercy.  She gets very sedate, and seems to see pink elephants when she has any of the narcotics used in cats.  Buprenex works well for many cats but not our Mercy.  That one had her on a drunk that lasted 12 hours, and reducing the dose did not help.  Gabapentin rarely causes any sedation or " seeing things" in cats but here again Mercy was on a high that did not seem fun for her.  So adding more medication was not an option.  As I looked at her x rays, I realized that she needed more help to reduce her inflammation and pain even though she was acting better that day. She would have other bad days, and I wanted to help her have the best days she could.  Also, there was that lingering thought - am I missing something in my own cat?  Do I not see something bad because I don't want to?  I need to take her to another veterinarian, specialized in chronic pain in older pets to have that objective view.   I also wanted a veterinarian who is also dedicated to gentle handling in cats. Dr. Hites came right to mind.
When she is feeling sore - she stays in her bed more

The day I took Mercy to her appointment, we gave  her a calming supplement called Composure.  Mercy usually does not like exams and may tense up.  This would be a strange place to her so I wanted to reduce any anxiety as much as I could.  I took her up myself with her favorite liver paste to eat and A/D food to reward her during the exam.  She laid on her own blanket from home and Dr. Hites looked at the X rays with me as Mercy became accustomed to the office.  She did not have any sedative because she did not need it.

  I had not missed any thing on her X rays, and she was on a good pain management regime.  Mercy's had misalignment in 3 areas on her back which were aggravating her pain.    Dr.Hites suggested some adjustment and acupuncture over the back area as a starting point that day,  and see how she responds.   Some pets may not show much improvement while others may respond more dramatically.  It is an individual therapy and response.  It is important to understand that the arthritis is still there but the adjustment is to line things up that have become out of place due to using the body differently.  It is a  trial and see response type of therapy.  I was aware of this approach, and wanted to give it a try.  There was nothing to lose -  the time and money would be worth while to know  personally what acupuncture and Chiropractic for pets is really like.
after a little manipulation, the first needles go in

Dr. Hites feels for the right spots
We set Mercy up on her own blanket after taking her carrier apart - all good ways to handle cats!  Dr. Hites is cat friendly!  Dr. Hites began feeling over Mercy as I fed her the liver paste.  Mercy was calm as Dr. Hites worked.  Adjustments in cats are small - as are their bones.  So the manipulations are subltle but effective.  Dr. Hites then  did acupuncture on about 8 spots along her back and shoulder.  These thin needles go in without any notice.  Then Mercy just laid there with Dr. Hites supporting her as I gave her more yummies to keep her happy.  And she was.  This is what shocks many - how can a dog or cat just lay there with a bunch of needles poking out?  Hites was able to straighten out her hip area.  In response Mercy stuck her hind end up with her tail up as Dr. Hites petted her.  That is a comfortable cat!
Mercy just laid calmly
These needles are activating endorphins - feel good body chemicals- as they sit there.  So, having needles in your back feels good for a while.
That is the skill for the acupuncturist - judging how long to leave in the needles and not over stimulate.  After the acupuncture treatment  Mercy's back was more relaxed and Dr.

I posted Mercy's photo on our  facebook page and have had a few ask about how acupuncture could help their cat.  I have referred other clients with dogs for chiropractic and acupuncture before but I did not have much information about how it helped cats.  Mercy will be going back in 2 weeks for a second treatment.  Then as often as we figure out she needs to stay well adjusted - at least physically!
All done and feeling good!
It is important to go to a veterinarian certified in Chiropractic and acupuncture.  The anatomy and general health are important to know, and a human chiropractor is not trained in this.  
I hope others older cat owners will look at their older cat who does not move around much with an open mind to come in and discuss what can be done to make their cat's life better.  There are a lot of options, and they can be worked out step by step individualized for your pet.

Thanks Dr. Sally J Foote