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Holistic Treatment for Cats: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

Holistic Treatment for Cats: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide

 

Key Highlights

  • Holistic/Integrative medicine relies on both Western medicine for technological advances but also allows for less invasive methods that rely on the body's innate mechanisms of healing.
  • Feeding cats a species appropriate carnivorous diet is the foundation of their health. You can't medicate your way around a poor diet.
  • Feeding a carbohydrate laden dry kibble diet contributes to metabolic issues (precursor to diabetes) and chronic low grade dehydration
  • Avoid over-vaccinating and only do what is essential for immunity
  • Understand which diseases benefit most from a holistic approach
  • Use unscented natural cat litter to avoid exposing cats to toxic chemicals
  • Incorporate holistic and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care, into your cat's healthcare routine
  • Provide opportunities for scratching, climbing and plenty of areas for napping and privacy.
  • Provide daily enrichment opportunities for your cat to engage and mimic their desire to hunt.

Cat

Introduction

Cats are fundamentally different from dogs, not just in size but in their very nature and needs, requiring a unique approach when it comes to holistic care. Unlike dogs, which can often be coaxed into taking herbs and supplements with minimal fuss, cats tend to be more discerning and less easily tricked into consuming anything outside of their usual diet. This difference underscores the importance for holistic practitioners to adopt strategies that cater specifically to felines.

A calm environment at home and in the veterinary clinic is crucial, as cats are particularly sensitive to stress and changes in their surroundings, which can significantly impact their wellness. By closely observing these unique needs and behaviors, a practitioner can develop a treatment plan that is not only effective but also practical for both the cat and its guardian. This tailored approach ensures that holistic care enhances well-being without causing undue stress or discomfort.

While dogs may manage to survive on a kibble diet, it's far from the ideal nutrition for cats. Kibble or dry food, which is typically high in carbohydrates, does not align with the natural dietary needs of felines, who are obligate carnivores requiring a diet rich in proteins and low in carbs. This mismatch between what cats consume and what their bodies are designed to process has been linked to a host of health issues. The high carbohydrate content in kibble diets contributes to several conditions that undermine the health and well-being of cats, leading to the conclusion that many diseases in cats are associated with consuming a species-inappropriate diet.

  • Arthritis, pain management
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer rates are increased in overweight humans and pets
  • Diabetes Mellitus and Insulin Resistance: A condition characterized by an inability to regulate blood sugar levels, often exacerbated by the high carbohydrate content found in many kibble diets.
  • Obesity: Excessive body fat accumulation that can lead to further health complications, directly tied to the caloric density and carbohydrate levels in dry food.
  • Lower Urinary Tract Disorders: Including cystitis, which can be influenced by the dehydration often associated with dry food diets and their carbohydrate content.
  • Hairballs
  • Dental Disease: While not directly related to carbohydrate content, the misconception that dry food cleans teeth can lead to neglecting proper dental care, compounding health issues.

                Sick cat

                These conditions underscore the importance of providing cats with a diet that mirrors their natural nutritional requirements, emphasizing the need for high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods to ensure their health and longevity.

                As cat owners, we want to provide the best possible care for our feline friends. And when it comes to their health and well-being, a natural and holistic approach can make a significant difference. Natural nutrition plays a vital role in the overall health of cats, supporting their immune system, digestion, and overall vitality. By understanding the principles of holistic care and incorporating natural remedies into their routine, cat owners can ensure that their furry companions live long, healthy lives.

                 

                Understanding Holistic Treatment For Cats

                Holistic treatment for cats focuses on treating the whole cat, taking into account their physical, mental, and emotional well-being as well as their environment. It involves integrating traditional veterinary medicine with complementary therapies to promote overall wellness. By addressing all aspects of a cat's health, holistic care aims to prevent health problems and enhance their quality of life. A holistic veterinarian is trained to provide natural and alternative treatments that can support the cat's body's natural healing abilities in the least invasive way, such as:

                • Natural nutrition, minimally processed diet
                • Acupuncture
                • Herbal Medicine
                • Homeopathy
                • Veterinary Chiropractic
                • Massage
                • Physical Therapy
                • Environment and enrichment

                Acupuncture, cat

                Why Holistic Care is Important for Cats

                Holistic treatment is important for cats because it addresses the root causes of health problems rather than just treating the symptoms. It relies heavily on strategies that prevent disease. Because a majority of diseases in cats arise from improper diet, natural nutrition is key to optimal health.

                Traditional veterinary medicine often focuses on managing symptoms rather than finding the underlying cause of the imbalance. Holistic care takes a more comprehensive approach, using natural remedies and therapies to support the cat's body's natural healing process.

                 

                The Role of Nutrition in Holistic Cat Care

                Cat, cat food

                Proper nutrition is a fundamental aspect of holistic cat care. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a diet rich in animal protein. Natural supplements can also play a role in supporting a cat's overall health and addressing specific health concerns. By providing a balanced and nutritious diet, cat owners can ensure that their feline friends receive the essential nutrients they need for optimal health and well-being.

                We cannot ignore the importance of a minimally processed natural diet. This is important for us, just as it is important for our pets. We would never call a healthy diet with fresh foods unhealthy, yet many are told by their veterinarians that this is the only way to keep their pets healthy. As far as I know, no other profession touts processed food as the healthiest option available. Fortunately, the tables are turning, and more people are feeding their pets in line with what they are feeding themselves.

                 

                The Problem with Processed Cat Food

                Cat, cat food

                Why is the microbiome so important and how does diet affect it?

                What we feed affects the bacterial population in the gut. The food we eat directly affects the bacteria that will flourish as a result. By feeding a diet laden with carbohydrates, the microbiome shifts to a bacterial population that is recognized by the cat as inhospitable. Thus begins the cycle of inflammation and the gut becomes inflamed leading to "leaky gut" and the Western diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease.

                Much of the processed cat foods also contains chemicals to entice cats to eat the food (think MSG for humans) what they wouldn't normally eat. Artificial additives, preservatives, and fillers can be detrimental to a cat's health. Dry cat foods, in particular, can be high in carbohydrates and lacking in moisture, which can lead to chronic dehydration, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney and urinary tract problems, hyperthyroidism, and other health issues.

                 

                What happens when protein and fat go into a bag?

                The heat processing used in the production of commercial cat food can destroy many of the essential nutrients that cats need to thrive. Heat processing in pet food production, commonly used to improve the food's nutritive value, hygiene, and shelf life, unfortunately, leads to the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) through the Maillard reaction. This chemical reaction occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars when foods are cooked at high temperatures with low moisture, a standard practice in creating kibble and canned pet foods. AGEs are concerning because they are recognized for their potential to trigger inflammatory processes and oxidative stress within an animal's body, potentially leading to chronic diseases and aging complications.

                You can read this article about AGE's to learn more about how they affect you and your pets: Advanced Glycation End Products and Risks for Chronic Diseases: Intervening Through Lifestyle Modification

                 

                By avoiding kibble and feeding a minimally processed diet, cat owners can provide their feline friends with a nutritionally balanced diet that supports their overall health.

                 

                The Benefits of Natural Nutrition for Cats

                Holistic Vet Blend, cat food, cats

                Natural nutrition offers many benefits for cats, just as it does for us. By feeding them a diet rich in high-quality animal protein and natural ingredients, cat owners can provide their feline friends with antioxidants and essential nutrients they need for optimal health. You also avoid chemical additives and AGE's (advanced glycation end products) that create inflammation and are damaging to DNA.

                Natural nutrition can also incorporate the principles of food therapy, which considers the energetics of foods and how they affect digestion.

                 

                A Beginner's Guide to Natural Nutrition for Cats

                If you're new to natural nutrition for cats, it's important to understand the basics. Natural nutrition involves providing cats with a diet that closely mimics their natural dietary needs as carnivores. This includes feeding them a high-quality, grain-free wet food that is rich in animal protein.

                Holistic vet blend, cats

                 

                What You Will Need

                When transitioning to natural nutrition for cats, there are a few essential items that cat owners will need. These include:

                By having these essential items on hand, cat owners can provide their feline friends with the necessary nutrition and support for optimal health.

                 

                Step 1: Understanding Your Cat's Nutritional Needs and Digestion

                Holistic vet blend, cat food, cats

                Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require a diet high in animal protein.

                Protein provides the essential amino acids, such as taurine, that cats need for healthy growth and development. Taurine deficiency can cause blindness and heart disease. Taurine comes from animal protein and this is why cats make horrible vegans! I know eating more plant based is best for humans and the planet, but cats are the exception.

                 

                Step 2: Choosing the Right Natural Foods

                Cat food

                When choosing natural foods for your cat, it's important to look brands that use quality muscle and organ meat, and avoid fillers, artificial additives, and grains. Choose minimally processed or raw, and avoid dry or low moisture diets.

                By having control over what goes into your cat's dish you can avoid toxins, preservatives, and chemicals found in may processed foods and kibble.

                 

                Step 3: Transitioning from Processed to Natural Food

                homemade cat food

                Transitioning your cat from processed to natural food can take some time and patience. Start by gradually introducing small amounts of the new food alongside their regular diet. Over time, increase the proportion of the new food while decreasing the old food until your cat has fully transitioned to the natural diet.

                A gradual approach is key as cats generally reject anything new, no matter how good it is for them. A billion dollar business surrounds "palatants" or chemicals that are often listed on the label as "natural ingredients" as a disguise. Think MSG which is technically natural as it is derived from seaweed.

                A gradual transition also helps prevent digestive upset and allows your cat to adjust to the new flavors and textures. You can find more information about making a transition to a healthier diet here: Tips for changing your cat's food when you have a picky eater.

                 

                Integrating Natural Remedies into Your Cat's Routine

                Natural remedies such as homeopathics, and herbal supplements should be chosen wisely and with the help of a knowledgeable veterinarian trained in holistic medicine.

                 

                The Use of Holistic Medicine for Cats

                Holistic medicine has been used for centuries to support health and wellness in humans and more recently in animals. Certain herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and promote healing. Others can support healthy digestion and alleviate symptoms such as bloating and indigestion. It's important to work with a holistic veterinarian who is knowledgeable about herbal medicine, and can guide you in selecting the most appropriate herbs for your cat's specific needs.

                It's also important to note that a holistic approach incorporates the animals environment and emotional health. This is especially important when cats are indoors that we enrich their life to satisfy their instinct to hunt and engage with the environment.

                When using essential oils with cats, it is key to work with a veterinarian versed in these remedies as cats are very sensitive to them. One must weigh the risks and benefits for any medication or holistic remedy.

                 

                Homeopathy and Cats: An Overview

                Holistic veterinarian, cat

                Homeopathy is a form of complementary medicine that uses highly diluted substances to stimulate the body's natural healing abilities. It is based on the principle of "like cures like," meaning that a substance that can cause symptoms in a healthy individual can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick individual. Homeopathy is a complex and individualized form of treatment that requires the expertise of a licensed veterinarian trained in homeopathy. It can be used to address a wide range of health concerns in cats, including allergies, skin conditions, and gastrointestinal issues. By working with a holistic veterinarian experienced in homeopathy, you can explore this gentle and natural approach to your cat's care.

                A few remedies for cats that I like to have handy:

                • Arsenicum album: for stomach upset and diarrhea
                • Arnica: for soreness/muscle strains
                • Rhus tox: for stiffness and arthritis
                • Cantharis: for urinary tract inflammation

                 

                Exploring Noninvasive Modalities in Holistic Cat Care

                Noninvasive modalities are an important aspect of holistic cat care, offering gentle and natural approaches to support feline wellness. These alternative therapies can address a wide range of health concerns and promote overall well-being without the need for invasive procedures or medications.

                Noninvasive modalities such as acupuncture/acupressure, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage therapy can help relieve pain, improve mobility, and enhance the body's natural healing abilities. By exploring these alternative therapies, cat owners can provide their feline friends with comprehensive and holistic care.

                Cat

                Conditions in Cats That Benefit from a Holistic Approach

                Chronic diseases that are influenced by diet, stress, and immune system dysfunction benefit from a more holistic approach. Diseases such as:

                • Chronic Renal Failure
                • Feline Chronic Urinary Tract Disease
                • Allergies
                • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
                • Constipation
                • Arthritis and any painful conditions
                • Liver Disease
                • Cancer
                • Respiratory problems: Asthma, upper respiratory or viral infections

                 

                The Role of Acupuncture in Treating Feline Ailments

                cat acupuncture

                I have to say this first. Most cats respond very well to acupuncture in a calm environment.

                Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy and promote healing. Acupuncture can be used to provide pain relief and support the treatment of various ailments, especially arthritis, which affects over 90% of cats over age 12. It's not uncommon for a pet owner to comment that they did not know their cat had arthritis until they see a change in behavior after doing it. They may observe more energy and vitality and enhanced mobility.

                By stimulating specific acupuncture points, acupuncture can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, stimulate appetite, and alleviate pain in cats with arthritis. It is a safe and effective treatment option that can be used in conjunction with other therapies to support feline wellness. It's important to work with a licensed veterinarian trained in acupuncture to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment for your cat.

                 

                Chiropractic Care for Cats: What You Should Know

                Chiropractic care is a noninvasive therapy that focuses on the musculoskeletal system, including the spine, joints, and muscles. In cats, chiropractic care can help improve mobility, relieve pain, and support overall wellness. By making gentle adjustments to stressed joints, a chiropractor can restore the natural alignment of the body and promote healing.

                Chiropractic care is especially beneficial for cats with mobility issues, such as those with arthritis or injuries. It's important to work with a chiropractor who is a member of the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) or Chi University, who has received specialized training in animal chiropractic. By incorporating chiropractic care into your cat's healthcare routine, you can provide them with noninvasive and holistic support for their mobility and overall well-being.

                You can find a doctor offering these services here:

                 

                 

                 

                Benefits of Holistic Medicine for Post-Surgery or Injury Recovery

                Holistic medicine can play a crucial role in the recovery process for cats after surgery or injury. By utilizing a combination of physical therapy, nutritional support, and noninvasive therapies, holistic medicine can help promote healing, reduce pain and inflammation, and support overall wellness. It's time we start thinking more about therapy after surgery for animals too. After all, you would go to physical therapy after surgery. It would be a no brainer.

                Holistic approaches such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, and physical therapy can be beneficial for cats recovering from surgery or injury, helping them regain mobility and improve their quality of life. By incorporating holistic medicine into post-surgery or injury recovery, cat owners can provide their feline friends with comprehensive and holistic care throughout the healing process.

                 

                The Use of Cold Laser Therapy

                Cat, cold laser therapy

                This is one of my favorite healing modality for cats! It's very effective in reducing pain and stimulating the healing process and it's very well accepted by cats.

                 

                What is cold laser therapy?

                It's also known as low-level laser therapy, is a non-invasive treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate healing and tissue repair. In cats, cold laser therapy can be used to reduce pain and inflammation, promote circulation, and accelerate the healing process. The laser light penetrates deep into the tissues, stimulating cellular energy production and enhancing the body's natural healing abilities.

                Cold laser therapy is safe, painless, and well-tolerated by cats. It can be used in conjunction with other therapies to support the healing process after surgery or injury. Working with a veterinarian trained in cold laser therapy, cat owners can provide their feline friends with a gentle and effective treatment option for pain relief and healing.

                It's important to note that not all "red light" or cold laser therapies are not the same. If you don't have to wear glasses than the red light does not penetrate deeply and may not make it past the fur. This is not to say there is no effect, but it's not as likely to act more superficially which would not be helpful for many joints and muscles that are not superficial (most of them).

                 

                Physical Therapy for Cats: An Introduction

                Cat, physical therapy

                Physical therapy, also known as rehabilitation, can play a vital role in helping cats recover from injuries, surgeries, or mobility issues. Physical therapy for cats focuses on improving mobility, strength, and overall function through targeted exercises and stretching at home and with a therapist at the clinic.

                By working with a trained physical therapist, cat owners can provide their feline friends with a comprehensive rehabilitation program tailored to their individual needs. Physical therapy can help cats regain mobility, reduce pain and inflammation, and improve their quality of life. It's important to work closely with a veterinarian and physical therapist experienced in feline rehabilitation to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment for your cat.

                 

                Homeopathic and Herbal Medicine: There's a Supplement for That!

                Many people turn to a holistic approach when they or their family members get diagnosed with cancer or a chronic disease. Well-meaning, they hop online and amass containers of herbs and tinctures. Every supplement out there seems to treat every aspect of the disease. There are so many supplements that I call kitchen sink supplements with a little bit of this and a little bit of that aimed at addressing many aspects of health. But each is in such a minor amount that they amount to no therapeutic benefit.

                A veterinarian trained in herbal medicine, acupuncture, manual therapies (massage, physical therapy, and veterinary chiropractic), and natural nutrition can help you approach the issue sort through the many options, and choose those that are appropriate. You can research holistic veterinarians and their credentials at www.ahvma.org or check their website.

                There are many reasons why you would want to turn to a holistic practitioner at this time as they will help you navigate the many options for treatment. With experience in both Western and holistic approaches, they can recommend what they have found helpful for your pet's unique situation. It's important to get guidance to choose safe and effective treatment. But, you will need to do your research when choosing a practitioner. Some veterinarians claim they have a holistic approach when they merely sell vitamins and supplements in their practice and have no advanced training or certifications. Ask about what other training and credentials they have besides traditional Western medicine training. Experience goes a long way. How long have they been practicing?

                 

                Cats, cat treats

                We are committed to sustainability every step of the way.

                By choosing natural remedies and holistic approaches for your feline friend, you contribute to a sustainable environment. Making your cat food takes thousands of unrecyclable packets and cans off of landfills, decreasing your cat's carbon pawprint.

                Cat care extends beyond health problems; it involves mindful choices benefiting both your pet and the Earth. As responsible cat owners, integrating sustainable practices into your cat's wellness routine aligns with the principles of holistic medicine. Embracing sustainability in conjunction with natural supplements elevates the well-being of your beloved family member. Choosing to avoid antibiotics as the first line of treatment for urinary tract problems avoids disrupting your pet's microbiome, and decreases bacterial resistance. The vast majority of cases of inflammation and hematuria (bloody urine in cats do) do not involve bacteria but rather a sterile cystitis related to stress or crystals. Would you rather have a veterinarian who takes a shotgun approach with antibiotics or one who approaches the situation by examining the diet and environmental stressors closely?

                 

                Conclusion

                We are committed to a holistic approach every step of the way. I prepare homemade cat food for my pets, avoid over-vaccinating, interact with engage them in play, use unscented, natural cat litter and adhere to practices that align with holistic care.

                 

                 

                Frequently Asked Questions

                Is Holistic Medicine Safe for My Cat?

                Holistic medicine can be safe for cats when administered by a qualified veterinarian who is knowledgeable about alternative and complementary therapies. It's important to work with a licensed veterinarian experienced and with advanced training in holistic medicine to ensure the safety and effectiveness of any treatments for your cat's health.

                How can you do acupuncture on a cat?

                A majority of cats surprisingly allow and respond very well to acupuncture. Endorphins kick in and cats may take some time but generally settle in well for there treatment. Once they associate the treatment with feeling well, they often relax well for future treatments.

                What about chiropractic for my cat?

                Be sure to find a veterinarian or chiropractor working alongside a veterinarian to treat your pet. Never allow a chiropractor who is not trained in techniques for treating animals to treat your pet without a veterinary referral. Diseases in humans are vastly different than those in our pets, not to mention very different spinal anatomy.

                Hi! I'm Dr, Dody, DVM.

                Passionate about animal welfare, I dedicated my life to helping animals from a young age. After years of traditional medicine, I discovered a lack of dietary options for optimal health. Combining my experience in both traditional and holistic care, I created Holistic Vet Blend® to empower consumers in choosing healthy ingredients and provide essential nutrients. As a seasoned veterinarian and thought leader, I advocate for a personalized approach to improve pets' lives. We support you in curating your pet's bowl, monitoring their progress, and offering the latest recommendations as their needs change.

                Together, let's redefine pet care with love and attention.