What is cat acupuncture?

Cat acupuncture is the placement of tiny needles in specific areas on the pet's body to help relieve pain and inflammation.

Dr. Keala Shotwell
The Drake Center

How can acupuncture impact the health and well-being of my cat?

The Chinese believe that putting pressure at some of these points can move blood, serum, and qi to help increase energy and decrease inflammation in the body.

What are some symptoms and conditions that cat acupuncture may be able to treat?

We see a vast improvement in kitties with kidney/renal disease, lumbosacral disease, or arthritis in their lower back.

How effective is cat acupuncture?

Very effective. I've seen blood work improve on cats that are getting acupuncture treatments.

What is the typical range for the number of treatments required for cats receiving acupuncture?

That's a great question, and it can vary. Sometimes we'll use acupuncture in the late stages of kidney disease in kitties. We've tried everything else, so we add in acupuncture, and they might be on it monthly. Other kitties perhaps had an acute crisis. We might do three treatments—once a week for three weeks, and then that's all they need.

How will a veterinarian diagnose the need for cat acupuncture?

Being aware that it's available is the first thing, and then to experience that it has helped some of these kitties with their blood work changes, improve general attitude and energy.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with cat acupuncture?

No risks. I think some kitties generally aren't a big fan of it, but again, they're pretty tolerant. So usually, what I'll do is I go very slow. I use tiny needles, and if the cat is showing any discomfort, we'll remove the needle and then release points elsewhere on the body and then go back to that point. They're usually pretty amenable if you go slow and do it that way.

What should I expect before, during, and after my cat's acupuncture session?

When you bring the kitty in, then we will perform the treatment. It's usually on an exam room table with a technician holding them. Once the needles are placed, we typically turn off the lights and just let them relax in a nice dark space, keeping them from moving around to avoid getting the needles out too quickly. Let them sit for about 10 minutes, then remove the needles and then send them home. They're usually a little bit sleepy for the rest of the afternoon, but that's really it.

How will I know if acupuncture treatments are helping my cat?

You can clinically see, as sometimes the blood work improves. But I think, in general, people have pretty good intuition. If you're reaching out for other treatment modalities, I think you'll see if they're either eating better, have more energy, maybe drinking less water—some of the signs we see with kidney disease, for example. The signs and symptoms of the disease that we're treating improve.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

Cat Acupuncture - FAQs

Dr. Keala Shotwell
The Drake Center

Will my cat be able to tolerate cat acupuncture?

You'd be amazed how well these kitties can tolerate acupuncture. We use very tiny needles. We go very slow and methodical with them. If they show any discomfort with a needle placement, we'll remove it, go to another area, and then come back to that spot. They're usually pretty good about it.

What percentage of cats experience an improvement in symptoms after receiving acupuncture treatments?

It depends on what disease you're treating. But I would say for kidney disease and lumbosacral or back arthritis, it's a good 50%.

Is acupuncture painful for my cat?

Some cats don't tolerate needles very well. It might not be the best choice for them. But again, you'd be surprised at how well most do tolerate it. And it's always worth trying. The veterinarian should be able to tell you easily if the cat's accepting it or not.

Will my cat need to recover after a cat acupuncture session?

It's no different than any trip to the vet's office. After going home, they sleep for a little bit because it's a big day.

How long will the effects of acupuncture last?

We typically see the peak effects of the acupuncture treatment around day three post-treatment. And it can last anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on what we're treating.

Is the person who treats my cat certified in cat acupuncture?

They really should be. It'd be necessary if you're looking for an acupuncturist to see if they are boarded in veterinary acupuncture, the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. It requires a good deal of schooling to know where these points are, how to use them appropriately with additional Western medicine versus a holistic Chinese medicine approach. So it's good to look at the credentials.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (760) 456-9556, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.