Acupuncture has been used to treat human ailments for thousands of years in China.  The first veterinary acupuncture text was written in 450BC detailing its uses in horses.  It has only been within the last 50 years that acupuncture has started being used on our smaller veterinary patients.  And acupuncture is now being used in everything from our companion cats and dogs to manatees.

Dr. Andeer studied at the Chi Institute under the training of Dr. Huisheng Xie.  The Chi Institute is a center in Florida that teaches traditional Chinese medicine and has become well known for its acupuncture classes. Veterinarians are the only professionals licensed to treat veterinary patients. This differs from the current trends in human medicine.

Dr. Andeer administers acupuncture to a patient

Acupuncture has been recognized by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) for treating chronic pain, gastrointestinal issues (such as IBD, diarrhea, colitis, nausea, and vomiting), inflammation, reproductive disorders, and pulmonary diseases (such as asthma and colds). Although the exact mechanism to determine why it works has not been fully elucidated, there are changes that have been seen on MRI images and there are a number of theories currently being tested.

There are different forms of acupuncture treatments including:  dry needle (just the needles are placed in acupuncture points), electroacupuncture (electrical stimulation is used to stimulate the needles), and aquapuncture (small amounts of vitamin B12 or saline are injected into acupuncture sites). Moxabustion, a traditional Chinese medicine derived from the mugwort herb, is used to warm needles and can be helpful for treatment of arthritic joints. The modality chosen is dependent on the patient and particular medical condition.

From a modern perspective, acupuncture represents a form of nerve stimulation.  From a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) perspective, it is the stimulation and transmission of Qi or energy force.  Qi consists of all essential life activities (spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical) and a person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body in combination with the universal forces of Yin and Yang.  If Qi flow is disrupted or insufficient, or if the Yin and Yang balance is upset, illness may occur.  Acupuncture is used to restore the balances.

Qi runs along the meridians in the body.  These meridians run throughout the body and have been found to be on nerve pathways and within proximity to blood vessels.  The acupuncture points themselves are specific locations where the meridians come to the surface of the skin.

Acupuncture can help with numerous conditions. Eddie is being treated for arthritis.

So what does all of this mean to your pet? At the Cat Doctor, we believe that integrative medicine will allow for the best possible care for your cat.  Western medicine should not be ignored, but acupuncture may help make your pet feel better and aid in the healing process.  In cases of chronic pain, acupuncture may prove most helpful since cats are intolerant to many of the treatment options available to canine patients.  At the time of your pet’s first acupuncture exam there are a few different questions you will be asked as part of a Chinese medicine history.  A full traditional Western, as well as traditional Chinese evaluation will be made.  Typically, traditional Chinese medicine allows 3 to 4 treatments before making a determination whether the acupuncture will be successful or not.  Typically the treatments are weekly and last 15-30 minutes.  These can be done as drop off appointments or made as regular appointments.  There is also the option of incorporating acupuncture treatments into the care given when a patient is hospitalized for a medical condition.  Many cats are surprisingly tolerant of treatment and some have been known to take a nap.

If you have specific questions or are interested in pursuing acupuncture for your pet, please contact Dr. Andeer at