Traditional vs. Alternative Medicine

Which is best for your cat?

By Narda G. Robinson, DVM

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Despite all the recent advancements in feline medicine, no machine can replace the hands-on benefits of acupuncture and massage. In conjunction with your veterinarian's guidance, you might be able to improve your cat's quality of life and hasten recovery from illness by including complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, sorting through the maze of feline holistic options can be challenging, mainly because the positive hype so vastly outweighs clinical research on cats.

Begin with a clear diagnosis and advice from your veterinarian, who can help you select specific treatments based on their relative risks and benefits. For example, treating a bacterial infection with an herbal tea instead of a scientifically proven safe and effective antibiotic likely would keep your cat in distress much longer than necessary. In this case, conventional medicine probably would be the best choice. On the other hand, if your cat is walking with an arched back, having difficulty getting in and out of the litterbox and no longer can get onto the bed, trying non-drug pain medicine options such as acupuncture, gentle massage and dietary supplementation might outweigh the benefits of medications and eliminate the risks involved with drugs. Although cats typically require pain medication after any surgery, the chronic pain that older cats experience often responds especially well to non-drug methods.

**Get the July 2008 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article.**

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