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Chiropractic Care For Cats: The Complete Guide

If you’re interested in chiropractic care for cats, but unsure of what this treatment actually entails, then you’re in the right place!

In this article, we discuss the possible benefits of chiropractic care for cats, including what typical conditions or ailments it is most suitable for. And also the symptoms to look out for in your own kitty, to decide whether this is a holistic treatment you want to try.

Before we go any further, however, we would urge you to contact a trusted veterinarian if you’re at all concerned about your kitty’s health or well-being.

There’s nothing worse than seeing our fluffy guys and gals in pain, so getting one-on-one advice will be best for you if your cat is in discomfort.

Now that’s covered, here’s an idea of what you’ll learn by the end of this article: 

Chiropractic Care for Cats 

  • A chiropractic alignment involves a low force, high velocity thrust motion to a specific location on a cat’s body
  • The benefits of chiropractic care for cats is largely anecdotal, but is said to help cats suffering from chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis
  • Chiropractic care cannot treat disease or replace surgery for cats
  • Your cat could benefit from chiropractic care if they’re suffering from stiffness, joint/neck/back pain, or general difficulty moving
  • A qualified cat chiropractor should be registered with the AVCA or IVCA

⚠️ Brittany, Paul, and the Fluffy Kitty team are not veterinarians. This article is based on facts, research, and personal experiences. We provide you with the best information we can but it is the reader’s prerogative as to what consequential action or inaction they may take. Paul and Brittany (and Yoda) shall in no event be held liable for any loss or other damages including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or any other damages.

So, ready to discover all the ins and outs of chiropractic care for cats? Then let’s dive in!

What Is Chiropractic Care For Cats?

Chiropractic care for cats is an alternative holistic treatment that provides care for a cat’s joints and spine.

It involves the movement and manipulation of the spine in a specific direction, to help return its normal functions and restore proper alignment. This adjustment can be achieved either through a literal hands-on approach, or through the use of a mechanical adjustment device.

So, in essence, not so dissimilar to what we humans experience at a chiropractic treatment! In fact, the chiropractic profession can be traced all the way back to the late 19th century. Although the practice has largely evolved since then. 

(Fun fact: this treatment can also be used on dogs and horses!)

Cat receiving chiropractic assessment

To get more technical, chiropractic care may be required if your cat is experiencing a misalignment of the spinal column. This is otherwise known as a vertebral subluxation, and is said to cause severe disruption to the nerves.

It is also theorized to be responsible for causing ill health, disease, muscle tension and reduced flexibility in animals. 

Chiropractic adjustments involve a low force, high velocity thrust motion, which is applied to a specific location on a cat’s body. 

Which sounds a bit aggressive, right? But a chiropractic adjustment on a cat can actually be more subtle than you might expect. You can watch a video of the gorgeous Venus receiving a chiropractic adjustment, to get a better idea of what this looks like in practice.

What Are the Benefits of Chiropractic Care For Cats?

The actual benefits of a chiropractic adjustment for cats are largely debated. Most positive outcomes are noted in anecdotal reports, rather than from any concrete evidence being noted in any clinical studies. 

Nevertheless, there are a number of potential benefits for your kitty.

These reported benefits of chiropractic care for cats include:

  • Increased fitness and mobility
  • Speeding up of recovery from injury or surgery

The effects can also largely differ, depending on what your fluffy guy or gal is being treated for. For some kitties, chiropractic care offers great benefits. But for others, the effects are minimal.

For instance, this treatment is said to help with chronic illnesses such as osteoarthritis, or pain associated with ligaments, joints or muscles.

Yet it cannot cure disease or be used as a replacement for surgery

Remember, chiropractic care for cats isn’t the same as massaging a cat or even acupuncture for cats, as those are two holistic health treatments that can benefit our felines in other wonderful ways.

Cat chiropractic adjustment

Chiropractic care may also be used to treat your cat if they’re suffering from:

  • Hip dysplasia — more common in large, overweight and purebred cats
  • Spondylosis — involves the formation of bone spurs on the spinal bones
  • Intervertebral disc disease — uncommon but can cause weakness, pain and even paralysis 
  • Urinary incontinence — where urine leaks from a cat that has spinal damage or a neurological disease

In fact, if you’d like to read more about feline chiropractic treatments, you may want to check out The Well Adjusted Cat by Dr. Daniel Kamen. In this book, Dr. Kamen provides an overview of cat chiropractic methods, an essential reference for any cat lover.  

Does Chiropractic Care Work For Cats? 

As I mentioned above, chiropractic care alone may not be totally effective for your cat. Especially not from a single session. More often than not, if the case is severe several sessions will be needed before your kitty experiences any notable benefits. 

There are also said to be a number of common negative effects from chiropractic care, although these are usually mild and last between 24 to 48 hours. 

These side effects include:

  • Discomfort
  • Stiffness
  • Tiredness

(Severe side effects are uncommon, but you should be aware that they can occur – as with any treatment. Especially if an adjustment is made at the wrong angle/with excessive force/at the wrong time.) 

Cat being stroked

Chiropractic adjustments also shouldn’t be made on cats who have experienced recent trauma. This includes:

  • Fractures
  • Tumors
  • Bone infections
  • Herniated discs

Your kitty will benefit from chiropractic care if used alongside other holistic therapies such as acupuncture for cats. Likewise, this treatment can produce better results when paired with conventional western medicine, physical therapy and continued exercises at home.

Should My Cat Have Chiropractic Care?   

If you’re wondering ‘Should my cat have chiropractic care?’ there are a number of factors you should consider before rushing to book an appointment.

For example, is your cat experiencing any or a combination of the following symptoms?

  • Stiffness
  • Walking with a limp/hopping motion or abnormal gait
  • Difficulty running, jumping or with general flexibility
  • Not moving around as much and/or slowness of movement after rest
  • Difficulty turning head
  • Sitting or standing in an unusual or abnormal position
  • Hunchback or neck/back pain
  • Pain when pressure is applied to the spine or general sensitivity to touch
  • Lack of coordination (e.g. toileting outside their litter box)
  • Muscle weakness, tension, atrophy or asymmetry
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced or excessive grooming
  • Change in temperament and general behavior
  • Vocalizing

If so, then it would be worthwhile booking an appointment with a trusted, qualified vet. 

They will offer an initial consultation and possible diagnosis of your kitty’s symptoms, usually through a physical examination or an x-ray to better pinpoint the location of the problem. They’ll also be able to identify whether there’s another underlying health issue which is causing these symptoms. 

Cat being stroked

You should also weigh up the following factors, before booking an appointment with a cat chiropractor:

  • Your cat’s temperament — will it stress them out? Will they tolerate being handled?
  • Your cat’s condition — does your vet believe it’s an appropriate treatment?
  • The potential benefits and negatives for your cat — is it worth it, in the bigger picture?

How to Find a Cat Chiropractor

If you’re convinced that your kitty could benefit from chiropractic treatment and you’re now on the search for a chiropractor for cats, keep an eye out for American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) certified animal doctors. 

Your vet may be able to refer you directly to a qualified cat chiropractor. But if not, it’s worth doing your research and checking a cat chiropractor’s qualifications and experience in chiropractic adjustments. 

Cat chiropractors registered with the AVCA or the International Veterinary Chiropractor Association (IVCA) must:

  • Complete approved veterinary chiropractic training
  • Follow membership regulations
  • Ensure their practice meets set standards

(Top tip: you can search for a local cat chiropractor here and tailor the search to your location.) 

Cat chiropractors operate independently and each practitioner can charge different rates for their treatments, depending on the age of your cat, your location and the number of sessions required. To give you a ballpark estimate, an initial consultation could cost between $100-$150, with sessions ranging from $50 to $75 after this first session.

My personal recommendation would be to look for client testimonials on your potential cat chiropractor’s website. This’ll give you an idea of how other cat moms and dads found the experience and (most importantly) if they believe the treatment produced actual benefits for their own fluffy kitties.   

Chiropractic Care For Cats — The Wrap-Up

So there you have it, the 101 on chiropractic care for cats. The potential benefits and risks involved, what typical conditions it is most suitable for, and how to find a cat chiropractor in your local area (if you believe your fluffy guy or gal could benefit from this holistic treatment.) 

I’d once again recommend talking to a trusted veterinarian about your kitty’s symptoms, if you’re worried about a change in their behavior or believe they’re in pain. If you’d like to read more about holistic veterinarians, check out our article on this topic. 

(Don’t forget to also check a cat chiropractor’s credentials, ensuring they’re registered with the AVCA or IVCA.)

Has your cat received a chiropractic alignment? Would you recommend it to other kitty parents? Reach out and let us know, as we’d love to hear about your experience!