In this article, we answer some of the commonly asked questions surrounding holistic vets, including how much holistic vets cost and how holistic vets treat cat cancer.
Have you ever wondered what a holistic veterinarian for cats actually is? Have you walked by a holistic clinic and been curious about the treatments and approaches they use? Then this article is for you!
We all want the best for our fluffy kitties (including the hair-free varieties — we see you!) We make sure they have plenty of love and attention. We buy them toys and treats to enrich their lives. We also make sure we find a great veterinarian for routine care and emergencies.
So you might have wondered what role a holistic vet plays in cat care, and if they are the right choice for you and your fur-friend.
In this article, we’ll be answering some of the commonly asked questions surrounding holistic vets.
Table of Contents
Holistic Vets for Cats Explained
- Holistic medicine is often seen as a ‘preventative’ approach to pet health, choosing to prefer alternative therapies first and using invasive treatments as a last resort.
- You can find holistic vets by searching AHVMA’s database.
- Holistic vet prices can vary but should be seen as an investment in the longevity of your pet’s health.
- Holistic vets are often open to reduced vaccination protocols.
- Holistic cancer treatments are offered by many practices and have had some success with smaller animals.
Let’s start with understanding more about what the term ‘holistic’ actually means.
What’s the Difference Between Conventional and Holistic Vets?
As we all know, veterinarians are specially trained doctors who treat animals of all shapes and sizes.
All licensed veterinarians receive the same training over several years, using the most proven and science-backed research to understand animal anatomy, behavior, disease, and treatments. This is known as ‘conventional’ medicine.
The vast majority of vet practices use these methods, and urgent medical attention nearly always involves these conventional practices to save a pet’s life.
But after completing their training, some veterinarians decide to specialize or hone their treatments towards a certain area. One of these areas is fast becoming known as ‘holistic medicine.’
Holistic medicine is often seen as a ‘preventative’ and ‘natural’ approach to pet health. This means they often taake the approach of avoiding drugs, antibiotics, and surgeries where they can.
This is because they aim to treat the root cause of your pet’s issues, rather than simply treating symptoms. This often means choosing instead to focus on the use of less ‘conventional’ practices such as:
- Herbal remedies
- Chiropractic practice
- Nutrition and lifestyle changes
- Behavioral training and assistance
Medications, vaccinations, surgery, and other conventional treatment options may well be essential in your cat’s life and unavoidable — such as vaccinations.
For this reason, lots of holistic veterinarians are ‘integrative’, meaning they blend conventional and less conventional practices.
But some owners are now deciding to turn to holistic vets as their first choice for routine care. So what does that look like for kitty owners like us?
What Is a Holistic Veterinarian for Cats?
A visit to the holistic vet is a lot like a visit to a ‘regular’ vet, so you can be sure that you won’t feel out of place or uncomfortable. One key benefit is that some holistic practices focus on a specific species, so your cat might not have to deal with any unruly dogs nearby.
At most first appointments, a holistic vet will examine your kitty and discuss any issues you might be struggling with, or just assess your cat’s overall wellbeing.
They may ask you to bring a stool or urine sample with you, as well as take blood from your cat to get an overall picture of their health. They will then perform the usual checkups — looking at your furball’s teeth, gums, ears, and eyes.
They might also have a feel of your kitty’s body to check for gastrointestinal issues, lumps, masses, or muscle issues.
One thing that might feel different?
Many holistic vets have lost the stainless steel examination table that can be so stressful for many cats. Instead, they may have an exam room that’s more suited to keeping your cat calm and happy. With cozy beds and even some toys.
Many owners also report that holistic vet appointments are much longer than traditional appointments, allowing them to fully understand your cat and their history with you.
They may also offer recommendations you might not be used to, like adding herbs or supplements to your cat’s diet, changing their diet to a raw or grain-free one, or adding extra enrichment into your cat’s day.
For example, a holistic vet might treat cat fleas by using natural remedies, management, and prevention techniques — rather than conventional medicines.
Do Holistic Vets Offer Cat Vaccinations?
As pet parents, we’re used to the trips to the vet to keep those vaccinations up to date. It’s something we did routinely to allow Yoda to travel with us. But since our journey with Yoda’s cancer, Feline Injection Site Sarcoma (Fiss), we’ve learned more about vaccinations and what they can mean for our kitties’ health.
Vaccinations are super important (and legally required!), but there’s been some discussion in the pet community about possible over-vaccination taking a toll on the health of our fur babies.
This has led to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) revising its vaccination guidelines, to suggest that cats should be evaluated on an individual risk basis, rather than constantly revaccinating. This helps to address the balance between safety in the wide world and reducing the risks of vaccinations.
Do holistic vets offer cat vaccinations? Yes — they do! As we said, some vaccinations are essential to keep your kitty healthy.
But what you might find is that holistic vets are often interested in finding the least number of vaccinations needed to keep your cat safe — specific to their lifestyle and needs. It’s often a mutual discussion, and you can ask about their vaccination policy when looking at a clinic to determine if they might be right for you.
Can You Treat Cat Cancer With a Holistic Vet?
Conventionally, cancer in cats is treated with a mix of surgery to remove the cancer, chemotherapy to attack the cancerous cells, and radiation to attack the tumor.
Holistic vets often choose to take a different approach to feline cancer. Instead of ‘attacking’ many switch the perspective, looking at cancer as something produced by the body, rather than a separate item.
The aim is usually to use homeopathy, acupuncture, and nutrition to strengthen the body. To give it the strength and tools to fight the cancer itself, whilst also using the same methods to weaken the cancer.
This approach aims to increase the quality of life for cats (sparing them from stressful medical procedures) and keep the cancer under control, rather than attacking it.
Although there isn’t heaps of research on holistic treatments for cancer in cats, there is plenty of research on these kinds of treatments on rats, mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs!
These studies have shown that herbs can manage the effects of chemotherapy, boost recovery rates after surgery or radiation treatment, and generally complement conventional cancer treatment really well. However, they also show that herbs are amazing at cancer prevention, and in supporting the areas that are affected by cancer.
It’s important to listen to both conventional and holistic arguments for cancer treatment and decide what you feel most comfortable with. Both have important and meaningful arguments behind them, and it’s up to you which path you want to take with your kitty, should they face a diagnosis.
If you want to read about our journey through Yoda’s Cancer, you can read his story here.
Are Holistic Vets More Expensive?
A frequent question we come across is just how much does a holistic vet cost? And are they more expensive than conventional clinics?
While some holistic clinics may charge more than conventional practices, there are many that charge less too. It will really depend on your area and the vet’s qualifications.
Many choose to see holistic vet care as cheaper in the long term, as the preventative methods used could reduce the chances of your cat developing a chronic or life-threatening disease.
While some more conventional drugs might be cheaper than, say, a round of acupuncture, the use of those drugs might also require more frequent checkups. So balancing all the information you have to hand is the best way to work out the true cost of your vet visits.
How Do I Find a Holistic Vet?
To find a holistic vet, you could ask your local pet store or online natural cat care communities for recommendations. Word of mouth is usually a great way to find a vet that is well respected and liked in the cat community!
You can also start by searching the AHVMA’s database. You can filter by location, practice type, and even for specific treatments, they offer.
Even when you find a holistic vet, don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and keep looking until you find the perfect fit. Having the right vet is such an important part of our furballs’ life – so it’s worth the effort!
Holistic Veterinarians for Cats Explained —The Wrap-Up
Since Yoda’s battle with FISS, we are interested in exploring the routes that holistic vets take towards cat health.
While traditional treatments will always be essential at certain points in our cats’ lives, knowing that there are more options than ever out there allows us to try and find the best vet for our cat and their specific needs.
Have you used a holistic vet? What was your experience? Let us know!