Cat receiving consultation for acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture for cats: will my cat benefit from veterinary acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that’s been around for centuries. As with most complementary therapies, there’s some debate about whether acupuncture is effective – but with many cat owners convinced it’s helped to alleviate their pet's symptoms, it’s always worth finding out more.

What is veterinary acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been performed on animals for thousands of years in the Far East, and continues to grow in popularity in the West.

It's often used to treat pain and relieve muscle spasms in cats – particularly in conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, or ligament injuries – and to aid rehabilitation and recovery after injury.

There are two types of acupuncture for cats: traditional Chinese medicine and the Western scientific approach. Traditional Chinese acupuncture believes the needles release energy which flows through the body, aiming to restore health and balance.

Western scientific acupuncture believes that the needles stimulate the release of the body’s neurotransmitters, which aids healing by causing the cat’s body to release its own pain-relieving substances.

What can it treat?

The following conditions often respond well to veterinary acupuncture:

  • Chronic pain or muscle spasms
  • Arthritic pain

And occasionally, it's had success with:

cat asleep outside

How does it work?

A trained veterinary acupuncturist inserts fine, sterilised needles into areas of your cat’s body that are tight, sore or painful. Placing the needles at points where the blood vessels and nerve bundles intersect is believed to have a positive effect on nerve function, stimulate the release of hormones and improve the circulation – all of which can help pain management and healing.  

Needles can stay in the body for 5 - 20 minutes, and the treatment is both safe and painless. Some animals feel a gentle tingling during the treatment, while others don’t feel anything at all, and may even find the procedure relaxing.

How do I find a veterinary acupuncturist?

Unlike human acupuncture, which can be carried out by untrained therapists, veterinary acupuncture can only be performed by a registered professional. If your vet believes your cat can benefit from it, they'll happily recommend it.

Need more info?

For expert advice on the benefits of acupuncture for cats, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.

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