My cats are old. Crash and Muffin, “my” cats, the ones who are inside and own my soul, are almost 18 years old. Recently they have started to show their age. They are on a small pharmacy of medications. They have a laundry list of ailments-arthritis, Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) aka Kidney Disease, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, stool issues, heart murmurs (yes, both of them. Heart issues run in the family apparently. Sam died from his.). Crash also has hyperthyroidism, a heart arrhythmia and “thickening lenses” in his eyes.
To make things even more frustrating Crash, always a picky eater, has decided he doesn’t really like any of the foods we feed him. The vet thinks it may be a combined result of the hyperthyroid, CRF and pancreatitis. Makes sense, especially the last two, all those toxins and nasty things making his tummy upset. And if he is constipated, well I wouldn’t want to eat either. Unfortunately, because of this he has lost about a pound. He looks like a skeleton kitty when you look at him from above. At least he is still happy and affectionate!
So between them they are on half a dozen drugs or more. Because they are finicky about what they eat, putting drugs or supplements in food is usually a no-no, it is just about impossible to get any glucosamine into their diet to help with the arthritis. I don’t want to put them on any more medicine. I am sure the drugs are partially responsible for some of the ailments they are suffering.
Since starting my job at the natural pet food store I have become even more aware of all stuff we put into our pets bodies. All the junk in the junky food, all the side effects of medicines. I have always been interested in holistic and/or natural options but never had much information to go on. I have talked with some of the customers at our store, listened to Dr. Barbara Royal speak (and read her amazing book), and decided maybe it was time to try something a little more natural. The cat hospital I take the cats to offers acupuncture cold laser therapy. I have experienced amazing results from acupuncture, and thought it would be a great idea to try it on Muffin and Crash. Then I laughed at myself. Get Muffin or Crash to sit still, with needles in them long enough for affects to be felt? Yeah right.
Muffin has arthritis in her spine. She paces a lot and circles before sitting down. I am not sure if this is because she is a little special, because of her arthritis, or a bit of both (probably the later). She was in a few months back for her 6 month exam and I talked to my most amazing vet about doing acupuncture and cold laser therapy. We discussed them and I liked the idea of the cold laser therapy.
My completely un-medical description of cold laser therapy follows. Cold laser therapy uses a low level or cold laser (as opposed to a hot laser surgery) to reduce inflammation within the body. (If you want a more professional take on it click here and here for articles). It can be used for pain or for other issues. My vet was telling me stories of a cat with chronic urinary issues having one treatment with the cold laser and then no more urinary issues. I think the story that did it for me was when my vet told me how she occasionally uses the laser on her own thumb after a day of surgery. Knowing it made a difference for her, I opted to try it out on Muffin.
For the procedure the Vet Tech brought a largish, slightly scary looking machine into the room. Muffin and I donned protective eye wear. Then we just chilled for a few minutes while the tech ran the laser pointer over Muffin’s back and hips. You can see the wand in the far left side of the picture, hanging over the Tech’s shoulder as she props Muffin up for the camera. It was very simple and I left willing to try it again.
Unfortunately I was only able to do one treatment for Muffin. For Muffin and Crash I was told it would be ideal if they received treatments at least once a week for a few weeks to see the best results. I was considering doing this, then Crackers came into the picture and turned life upside down. I have been unable to find the time or money to return for further cold laser therapies for Muffin or Crash.
However, Crash went into the vet this week for his weight loss. I ended up trying acupuncture on him. I don’t want to give up on complementary treatments, even if I can’t really afford them. Acupuncture seemed to work remarkably well right away. We came home and Crash ran right to the food bowls like he hadn’t eaten in a week. His joints gave him a bit of trouble that night, but his appetite was better! His appetite has been amazing since then and stool issues are getting better.
For acupuncture the vet placed the tiny needles in Crash at the strategic points she thought best, mostly along his back half, though there were a few in his paws and one in the center of his forehead. I was surprised how well he tolerated the needles too. He hardly responded at all. There were one or two in his feet that he really didn’t like, but once those fell out he calmed down. If you have ever had acupuncture done, you know just how painful those needles can be if they are in just wrong or in a really tense spot. We then sat in the dark room and had a few peaceful Zen moments. It was lovely.
I hope to find a way to swing more acupuncture and/or cold laser therapy for the cats in the coming weeks. If I do, I will share the stories with you. In the mean time tell me your stories of holistic and complementary therapies to treat your cats.