Acupuncture For Cats

acupuncture for cats

Acupuncture, a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, has been around for thousands of years.  You might’ve heard of the benefits of acupuncture for humans, but were you aware of the benefits of acupuncture for cats?

According to Catnip Magazine, acupuncture can help cats with chronic pain due to arthritis, constipation, chronic kidney and liver disease.  The treatments are usually used in combination with traditional veterinary medicine.

Although acupuncture plans can be tailored somewhat for individual patients, the practice is not for every cat.  It would not be beneficial for cats that don’t do well being handled or if they are unable to relax sitting or lying down.

What To Expect

Normal acupuncture appointments last 30-60 minutes.  The pet’s guardian will answer questions about the cat’s lifestyle, diet and habit.  Once inserted, the needles usually stay in place about 10 minutes.  The needles are so fine the cat will hardly feel them being inserted into the skin, and the cat may even fall asleep during the session.

Although some clients see improvement in their cats within 24-36 hours, often several sessions are needed to notice significant progress. Based on the cat’s condition being treated, ongoing sessions may be recommended.  There is usually a period of 1-2 weeks between sessions.

In most cases, there should be some noticeable improvement in the pet’s condition by the third session.  If no improvement is seen, it is possible acupuncture may not be a viable treatment for the cat’s condition.


Although acupuncture for cats is generally low risk, there are some cases where this treatment should not be used.

Risk factors include:

  • Cats with tumors.  It is believed that acupuncture needles can stimulate a tumor (causing it to grow) if inserted too close to it.
  • Cats with fever or infection.  Similar to tumors discussed above, the acupuncture needles may lead to spreading of infection.
  • Pregnant cats.  Inserting acupuncture needles in certain points of the body may lead to uterine contractions and premature delivery.

Finding A Licensed Practitioner

In order to practice veterinary acupuncture, veterinarians must be licensed.  If you’re interested in learning more about acupuncture and want to know if your cat could be helped by the treatment, check for a licensed practitioner in your area. There are currently three accredited programs in the U.S.  The programs are:

  • Internations Veterinary Acupuncture Society (
  • Colorado Veterinary Medical Association Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians (
  • Chi Institute of Florida (

Each of these programs have a listing on their site to find licensed practitioners in your area.  The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association ( has a listing on their site of practitioners as well.


Although not the answer for every condition, some pets can be helped greatly by acupuncture.  Find a licensed vet in your area and set up an appointment to see if it’s right for you and your pet.


Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.