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Would You Take Your Cat to an Animal Chiropractor?

I did, and I had a good experience, but I don't fully understand the process. Here are some tips.

 |  Jan 29th 2014  |   8 Contributions


I have always worked between two veterinarians for my cats. My main vet is a traditional vet in my locale. The other practices traditional and holistic veterinary medicine and specializes in treating cats.

Rama, my young black cat, had sarcomas show up a few times in the same spot (a non-vaccine site). These were removed a few times, but naturally, I was concerned that such a young cat was already developing tumors. Feeling that we'd done what we could with traditional veterinary medicine, I consulted with my holistic vet to see what she would suggest in the way of holistic support.

While she did suggest some preventative supplements and immune support, she also gave Rama a hands-on exam. Her exam differed from my traditional vet's exam. The holistic vet spent some time palpating Rama's spine, in addition to the other things like listening to his heart, looking at his eyes and teeth and ears, and palpating the rest of his body. When she got to his hips, she told me that his left hip needed an adjustment. I had noticed recently that Rama, who loves to jump, seemed to be jumping less, or not as gracefully.

My holistic vet is located four hours from where I live, so she didn't have suggestions for animal chiropractic referrals near me. I had to do a little digging. I did locate an animal chiropractor in my region (who also has a practice with human clients). Here's what I found.

My experience with a cat chiropractor

The chiropractor asked for a referral from my veterinarian. Since the chiropractor knew my traditional vet, we worked the referral through that veterinarian, who was willing to give it.

The chiropractor made a home visit. This worked out best for both of us, as he tends to do many of his animal chiropractic calls on the road in this rural part of my state. It was very nice for Rama, who could go through this process without the stress of visiting a different place and traveling in the car.

I found this chiropractor very professional. He took his time, didn't rush the visit, and started out with an explanation of what he would be doing and the chiropractic process in general. He took a case history of Rama and did an examination. He said that depending upon the case, an exam might include "posture analysis, gait analysis, vertebral, extremity and cranial static palpation, vertebral and extremity motion palpation, short leg analysis, orthopedic evaluation and neurological evaluation."

The chiropractor then gave Rama an adjustment. Animal chiropractors treat Vertebral Subluxation Complexes (VSC). Again, according to the chiropractor, "VSC is a multifaceted condition of functional and/or structural pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health. It is evaluated, diagnosed, and managed through the use of chiropractic procedures based on the best available rational and empirical evidence."

To try and translate this into lay terms, if the spine is out of balance, it affects the nervous system, the muscles, and the organs. Chiropractic attempts to adjust the spine so that the rest of the body system can function correctly and health can be restored.

Rama -- happy and healthy.

Other observations about animal chiropractic care

The chiropractor was quite clear that chiropractic care doesn't replace veterinary care, but rather works with it in an integrated fashion. Animal chiropractors do not prescribe or dispense medicine, do surgery, or recommend medicine.

My chiropractor took some time to make Rama comfortable. Clearly, he was familiar with cats. Rama is a bit of a nervous cat, who came to us with some insecurity. The animal chiropractor let Rama move about the house. Instead of insisting that Rama come back to a particular place to be worked on, the chiropractor followed Rama. If Rama plopped down by the fireplace (it's often winter here in northern Minnesota), the chiropractor worked on Rama there.

I have had chiropractic care myself (especially after one auto accident) but it was really interesting to watch the chiropractor adjust Rama. He took his time and waited until Rama was ready. He was intentionally quiet and slow in his movements, as not to excite Rama. Although I knew from his bio that he had dogs, he really knew his way around cats.

If you've ever had chiropractic care, or watched it done, you know that chiropractors palpate and adjust the spine. With an animal as small as a cat, less force is used when the chiropractor does the adjustment.

When the chiropractor was done, he gave me instructions that I was to keep Rama moving for 20 to 30 minutes. Apparently this would help the results of the adjustment. I played with Rama and kept him walking.

I did notice an immediate improvement. Rama was able to jump gracefully again. His former jumping heights didn't seem to be a problem.

My traditional vet was very interested in my experience with the animal chiropractor. While I don't claim to completely understand chiropractic, I was impressed with the chiropractor's professionalism and manner with my animals. I appreciated his quiet and patience and his ability to make Rama (a cat with some left over insecurity from his past) at ease.

What to consider if you are evaluating an animal chiropractor:

  • Do they take the time to explain chiropractic to you? Do they explain what's unique about the approach for treating your pets with chiropractic? Do they prepare you for exactly how they will adjust your cat?
  • Will they take a thorough case history? Will they consult with your vet and do their own examination of your cat?
  • Can they translate concepts into terms you can understand?
  • Are they able to put your cat (and you) at ease? Do you like their demeanor?
  • Do they rush the process or do they take their time? I was really happy that this practitioner did not rush the process, which I don't think would have worked for my cat.
  • Do they give you instructions for follow-up observation, action, and care?

Have you used a chiropractor for your cat? How was your experience? Share your thoughts in comments!

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About Catherine HolmTold that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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