Conscious Cat

October 8, 2012 7 Comments

What does holistic cat care mean to you?

Posted by Ingrid

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The term “holistic” means different things to different people. Wikipedia defines holistic health as a “concept in medical practice upholding that all aspects of people’s needs, psychological, physical and social should be taken into account and seen as a whole.” The term “holistic” is often used interchangeably with “alternative” when it comes to health.

When I refer to a holistic approach to health care, whether it’s for cats or for humans, I mean an approach that takes into account all aspects of what make up a living being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Looking at health, and illness, holistically, also means looking for, and treating, the cause of a problem or illness, rather than just treating symptoms. Symptoms are almost always a manifestation of a deeper problem.

Holistic therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal treatments are gaining increasing acceptance for cats, as more people are understanding that true well-being encompasses body, mind and spirit. And as people are experiencing the benefits of alternative and holistic therapies for themselves, they’re also looking for alternative ways of caring for their cats.

I believe there are benefits to be derived from both a conventional as well as a holistic approach to health care for our cats, which is why I prefer the term integrative medicine. In other words, integrative medicine lets you pick the best of both worlds.

I’ve succesfully used homeopathy, acupuncture, Reiki, and herbal treatments for my cats (and myself) over the years. My own philosophy leans toward using these types of therapies before I’ll turn to conventional medicine, but I would never rule out conventional treatments. Feebee underwent chemotherapy for intestinal lymphoma. Amber went through the radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism. Buckley was on multiple heart medications to manage her restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Finding a veterinarian who combines both approaches can be challenging. Even though many conventionally trained vets are open to holistic modalities, they’re not always trained in these practices. Rather than looking for a vet who can do it all, it may make more sense to either look for a holistic vet for your cat’s basic health care needs and be prepared to seek help from a conventional vet for things that require conventional treatment, or find a conventional vet who may not be practicing holistic modalities, but is open to her clients seeking such care, and willing to work with the client and/or a holistic veterinarian when indicated. Having a vet roll your eyes at your if you even mention holistic modalities probably means that this vet is not going to be a good choice for you if you plan on using alternative therapies for your cat.

The Veterinary Institute of Integrative Medicine provides resources for pet owners and veterinarians interested in the benefits of an integrative approach to animal healthcare.

Do you use holistic modalities for your cat? Which ones have you used? Is your vet supportive of your choice?

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7 comments to “What does holistic cat care mean to you?”

  1. Thanks so much for these great posts Ingrid! Our cat Billy had surgery three weeks ago. I purchased Spirit Essences- Intensive Care and Stress Stopper. I truly believe they helped him. We were dealing with his recovery and unfortunately some very intrusive construction noise in our apartment building. The Spirit Essences made him much calmer. I am happy to report that he is doing well- almost back to his old bossy self!

  2. Marg says:

    I have to admit that I am such an old fogey, that I usually stick to the old timey medicines etc. But at the moment I have a dog that is in Kidney failure and a friend recommended an herbal liquid for Kidney support and I think it is working. The dog has slowed down on her eating but will eat just fine with the liquid on the food. I do believe that the holistic treatment is probably very good.

    • Ingrid says:

      Marg, I’d be interested to hear what the herbal formula you’re using for Jasmine is called (and I’m very happy to hear that it seems to be helping her!).

  3. I like the idea of an integrative approach. Our mobile vet completed his training in acupuncture for cats and he also recommends herbal remedies – like Rescue Remedy for stressed cats, and so on. He combines conventional and holistic therapies. It makes sense.

  4. Laura says:

    I lean towards holistic treatments for myself, so I’m learning more & more about those for my feline family. We have had several fosters this year with digestive issues because our SPCA knows we feed holistic food/raw and have the time & resources. Thanks for the post!

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