Veterinarian Chris Day is a slightly different kind of vet: he’s a practitioner of holistic alternative medicine for animals. “Our cats should be able to live to a healthy old age, dying with dignity when the time is right for them,” his website reads. “Cats who are reared on a natural diet and not over-vaccinated appear to be able to do this very well.”

His goal in providing homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, chiropractic manipulation, and nutritional therapy is to help them do just that. You’ve probably heard of these kinds of treatments for humans but how would they work in cats? When used properly, these natural treatments can provide a remarkable kind of healing.

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If you choose to invest in alternative medicine for your cat, it’s strongly recommended that you use it in compliments to your traditional veterinarian and that you choose an alternative practitioner who is licensed and experienced. In Day’s practice, he runs careful diagnostics on the animals to be sure he chooses the right treatment, just as a traditional vet would. That’s what makes it holistic.

“We look closely at previous veterinary history and results of any tests or investigations,” he says online. “We take an extensive history, inquire into diet and lifestyle, ask about management of the home, garden, and other environments and examine the cat closely.”

Different Holistic treatment options

Acupuncture

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The idea of having needles stuck in your cat’s body may not seem appealing at first but the technique is quite helpful for relaxation in animals and humans alike. There’s a reason why it’s been used for millennia. Cats generally respond well to it and the needles don’t actually cause them pain. If you or your cat prefer, some veterinary acupuncturists provide a ‘laser acupuncture’ option, using a beam of light. Day uses it and says it’s also quite relaxing.

Herbal medicine

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If you determine that your cat’s health could be supplemented with herbs, you have options from Chinese medicine to even cannabis. The medicines can be mixed in with food and go down well in most cases. Day prescribes certain herbal combinations specific to each animal. It comes in leaf, chopped, powder and liquid forms. You can also look into having supplements at home. Coconut oil and pumpkin have been noted as effective home remedies. Whatever your alternative vet suggests, check with your conventional vet that it will not interfere with any conventional medicine or treatments your cat uses. Day suggests not combining them with conventional drugs at all.

Homeopathy

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This method was devised in the 18th century and descends from the ancient Greek for ‘similar to the disease’. The medicines are created by taking tiny amounts of the disease-causing agents and diluting them. “They work dynamically in the body, in other words, through the body’s energy processes rather like computer software, as opposed to working pharmacologically,” Day says. While many cat owners have had success with this practice, the scientific understanding of it is still unclear, which causes hesitation for some. Just be sure your practitioner is a qualified veterinary surgeon.

Chiropractic manipulation

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An animal chiropractor can be incredibly helpful with fixing any joint problems your cat has. According to Day’s website, “In chiropractic, the action acts as a stimulus to the body to self-correct; it is not imposed upon the body.” The chiropractor gently manipulates the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine, and focuses on bones and their relationships with each other. As you might expect, this can be quite helpful with back problems.

If you choose to invest in any of these methods, you should keep a few things in mind to be sure they contribute to your cat’s health as good as possible:

● Let your holistic vet and traditional vet communicate with each other and work together as well as they can. They need to keep open minds with each other for it to work out. If they do, their practices can complement each other quite well.

● Know when to employ which kind of practice. If your cat needs emergency surgery, obviously you’ll need to go to your traditional vet. Alternative practices are useful in gradual healing processes and keeping your cat healthy overall. Sometimes you’ll even discover that holistic treatments relieve problems that traditional medicine can’t address.

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The best prescription for a healthy, happy cat is in his lifestyle. The responsibility for that falls onto you. Make sure you’re feeding them the right kinds of food – a diet high in protein and free of starch and plenty of water. You may also want to take a look at the substances in their litter. Their bodies are touching it multiple times a day, so check to be sure they aren’t inhaling or ingesting toxic chemicals from it. And keep the litter as fresh as you can to avoid a buildup of bacteria.

Lastly, if you keep your cats indoors, that doesn’t mean they have to become lethargic. Play with them daily, while keeping them out of the elements. No matter what style of medical the treatment you choose, a healthy environment is what’s most important.