Last week I wrote a Kitty News Network post about a cat that had been hit by a car and was recovering thanks to a hydrotherapy program. Catster Moki and his person saw the story and left a comment telling me about Moki’s special journey, which also involved hydrotherapy and other forms of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM).
I’m very interested in CAVM myself — I’ve used homeopathy, massage, and a form of energy healing called Reiki on my own cats and a number of farm animals (always in addition to regular vet care, of course) — so I asked them if they’d like to share their story with KNN’s readers. They said yes, so today I have an epic post to share with you!
It all started in 2007, when Moki’s person, Crystal Fogg, was volunteering at a no-kill cat shelter. Three-month-old Moki was left on the shelter’s doorstep, along with another kitten. The little ones were too feral to be adopted out, so Crystal agreed to foster him.
The kitten developed an upper respiratory infection, and the shelter’s vet prescribed treatments that should have helped him get better. Instead, he got worse and worse — until the vet said there was nothing more he could do and advised that Moki go to a 24-hour emergency vet clinic. The shelter couldn’t afford it, but Crystal — who isn’t a rich woman, either — agreed to cover the cost … and adopt Moki, if he survived.
By some miracle, Moki made it through the night. In fact, he made such a startling recovery that the vet on duty couldn’t believe he was the same kitten she’d seen lingering at death’s door the night before.
Although Moki had survived, the infection cost him dearly. He had a severe head tremor, and the ER vet told Crystal that he had cerebellar hypoplasia and would probably never sit up or walk. But once again, he defied the odds: He began eating on his own, sitting up, and walking. Not very well, mind you, but walking nonetheless.
It seemed Moki would continue to get better, but he began having frequent recurrences of the viral infection that had almost killed him. Crystal was advised to take him to UC Davis to be diagnosed and treated by the specialists there. After a battery of tests including an MRI and a spinal fluid tap, the doctors still had no idea what was wrong.
Despite the confusion about exactly why the poor kitten was so sick, something happened that day that would change Moki’s and Crystal’s life forever: The neurologist and orthopedist who saw Moki recommended a course of small-animal physical rehabilitation therapy and recommended a facility in San Jose, Calif. Moki did have a number of hydrotherapy treatments, but then he had a nasty recurrence of his viral condition and got too sick to continue. By the time he recovered, the center had closed.
Crystal began looking for another place for Moki to get his therapy and found Scout’s House in Menlo Park, Calif. The facility offers a variety of complementary and alternative treatments including hydrotherapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, manual orthopedic manipulation, and even acupuncture. The staff had seen acupuncture help a lot of animals suffering from neurological conditions, so they suggested incorporating it into Moki’s therapy program.
Crystal had already been following the story of a cat who was receiving acupuncture treatments and had been watching it do amazing things for him, so she decided to go ahead. According to Crystal, the results of his weekly physical rehab and biweekly acupuncture treatments have been nothing short of amazing. Moki is now able to fully stretch out his front legs, and recently started to take his first steps on a tile floor, something he hasn’t been able to do since before he first got sick.
“Many of your readers will probably think to themselves, ‘Who on earth can afford all that?'” Crystal says. “The truth be told, certainly not me. I am a full-time student.” But she couldn’t imagine not giving Moki every possible chance to improve his health and life, so she started raising the money to help fund the cost of his treatment. She was also able to tap a special program which underwrote the cost of 10 of Moki’s physical rehab treatments. (Although the original program is no longer available, the nonprofit Scout’s Fund, started by one of the owners of Scout’s House, is raising money for physical rehab treatments for disabled pets living in low-income families or in rescues and shelters, as well as disabled service dogs and K-9 dogs in the military or law enforcement. Crystal is paying it forward to help Scout’s Fund by volunteering the social media fundraising experience she earned in her efforts to help Moki.)
“Small-animal physical rehabilitation and veterinary acupuncture has done amazing things for Moki,” Crystal says. “It has helped him in ways that more traditional medicine was unable to. Since starting acupuncture, the virus which has been attacking Moki has rarely resurfaced. Moki can also walk much better and do things that he hasn’t been able to do since before he got sick.”
Acupuncture involves inserting needles into various parts of the body to achieve healing effects. It originated in ancient China, where disease was believed to be the result of an imbalance of energy in the body. By using acupuncture, the imbalance could be corrected and the patient restored to health. In Western terms, acupuncture causes physiological changes such as nerve stimulation, muscle spasm relief, and increase in circulation — all of which have healing properties.
I can imagine people thinking, “How could you possibly get a cat to sit still while having needles stuck in him?” You’d be amazed. I’ve had acupuncture myself, and I can tell you that the needles are so thin you can barely feel them going in.
To practice veterinary acupuncture in the United States, you must be a licensed veterinarian and have formal training in animal acupuncture, as evidenced by a certificate from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) or a course approved by the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA). The AAVA has a searchable directory of veterinary acupuncturists in the U.S. The AAVA also has a few members in Canada, Australia, and Italy.