Is there a gap between traditional and holistic veterinary care for your cat? It may seem like it in some cases, but depending upon your approach, there doesn’t have to be a gap. Here’s how to make the two methods work together in the best way possible.
1. Make sure your veterinarians are willing to work together
If you’re lucky enough to have a veterinarian that practices both holistic and traditional medicine — great. If you, like me, have used a few veterinarians at the same time, make sure that they’re okay with this and that they’re open to each others’ viewpoints. For example, I work with a vet who practices traditional medicine, and another cat-specific vet who practices a blend of traditional and holistic veterinary medicine.
At one time, I took my cat Rama to my holistic veterinarian, to explore strengthening Rama’s immune system. (Rama was only four years old and had already had a sarcoma removed in a non-vaccination site.) My holistic vet (who also does Chinese medicine) examines the animals in a different way, feeling along certain points of the body. She picked up on the fact that Rama’s hip needed an adjustment and suggested an animal chiropractor. I worked through my other (traditional) vet to get the referral for the chiropractor, since these two people were in the same part of the state and closer to me.
My traditional vet, who was not entirely convinced that chiropractic worked in general, nonetheless worked with the chiropractor, and followed up with me to see how the home visit when. I did like the chiropractor — he had a really good way with animals and with my cat. My traditional vet was also impressed that Rama seemed to be jumping better after his adjustment.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
Obviously, if you’re working with more than one vet, it’s double the work for you. Keep good records, and keep each vet fully informed about all treatments or procedures that your cat is going through. I think my traditional vet has actually enjoyed learning about some of the holistic avenues I’ve taken with my cats — I am probably a little unique among their clientele and he can learn things that he might be able to suggest to another person and their cat.
3. Give certain holistic treatments time
My holistic veterinarian has told me again and again that many treatments take time for results to be observable. Some of the treatments are gentler than traditional counterparts. What kind of treatments are most appropriate in any case will depend upon what’s going on with your cat. Which leads to the next item…
4. There’s a time for traditional treatment, and a time for alternatives
This should be obvious. Obviously, if your cat has a broken leg, needs immediate surgery, or is suffering from something acute, you’re going to take a traditional approach. But sometimes there are holistic approaches you can use to compliment the traditional treatments.
Here’s a personal example. Rama, mentioned above, had a sarcoma show up in a non-vaccination site. It was on his side, right in the middle, between front and rear legs. I was concerned, especially since he was very young (four years when the lump first presented) and seemed healthy and lively otherwise. I worried that I had a cat with a predisposition to cancer. I had the lump surgically removed, and my traditional vet used wide margins in the surgery (the lump was in an easy-to-operate spot). In six months, the lump came back. We had it removed again, with generous surgical margins. Now, I wanted to do more.
Here’s where I introduced complimentary holistic treatments. I took Rama to see my holistic vet. She examined him. Now Rama is taking immune boosting supplements and an anticancer mushroom supplement. It’s not too expensive, and it’s not complicated.
The best news: The lump has not returned in years! What does this mean? That the second surgery “really” completely got the lump? That the anti-cancer holistic treatments are working? I don’t know, but I’m happy with the results.
5. Make the commitment
Holistic treatments do require some commitment. In Rama’s case, there are a few more steps each day, since certain supplements get mixed into his food. I have to keep track of things because one supplement gets replaced with another every other month. In addition, there’s a simple regimen that gets added in the spring and the fall, for two weeks each. (Apparently, spring and fall are important transitional times for our bodies and immune systems.)
All this requires commitment. But I have personally have seen good results with several cats, so I am willing to do what it takes.
Have you used holistic or complimentary veterinary care for your cat? Do you have stories you can share? Let’s hear your story in the comments!
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About Catherine Holm: Told 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.