Feline Acupuncture
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2003
Ulrike Wurth, BVSc, Dip Acup., IVAS Certified
Victoria, Australia

Cats as a species have remarkable powers of healing and acupuncture which stimulates the body to heal itself is particularly effective in cats. But cats being cats, many practitioners are often reluctant to treat cats with acupuncture needles because of their defensive reactions to needle insertion. Given that acupuncture generally requires a minimum of three to four treatments, a general anaesthetic is not only expensive, but there is a risk with repeated anaesthesia. Most cats will tolerate 32 gauge 15 mm Seirin Acupuncture needles and will sit quietly for the treatment time of 10 -15 minutes.

With an experienced nurse holding the cat, needles are inserted quickly and only gentle needle stimulation is required. Once the endorphin response occurs, most cats will sit quietly for the remainder of the treatment. Cats that are very thin e.g., kittens and geriatric cats, are difficult to needle. In these cases, a Laser can be used to stimulate the acupuncture points. For difficult cats, GV 20 which has a sedating effect may be useful.

Feline Diseases Treated With Acupuncture

Urinary Tract

 Lower Urinary Tract Disease

 Post surgery

 Recurrent cystitis

 Renal failure



 Muscle Trigger points


 Non union fractures


 Miliary dermatitis

 Acute moist dermatitis




Respiratory Tract

 Cat Flu

 Chronic Sinusitis

 Feline Asthma



 Dry eye




 Ischaemic Encephalopathy

 Vestibular Disease



 Haemolytic Anaemia

Geriatric cats



Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

TCM Diagnosis Damp Heat in the Bladder, either due to Heat and Damp, diet creating internal dampness or the emotions of suspicion and jealousy. Painful over BL 28.

Treatment: BL 60, KI 7, SP 9, ST 41, BL 23, KI 3, BL 28, intravenous fluids and diet. Cats treated surgically for urethral obstruction or urolithiasis which do not urinate voluntarily after surgery can be treated with the same acupuncture points and will normally urinate within 12-24 hours.

Chronic Renal Failure

In TCM Chronic renal failure is a combination of Kidney Yin deficiency, Kidney Yang deficiency and Blood deficiency.

Treatment: Fluid therapy and the Korean four needle technique. It is important to use the points in the right order to strengthen the Kidneys: sedate SP 3 and KI 3, tonify LU 8 and KI twice weekly for 8 treatments.



Arthritis in TCM is due to an invasion of Wind plus Heat, Cold and Damp with one factor predominating. The type of pain and the sensation vary, e.g., joints will feel hot, if the predominating factor is Heat, cold if it is Cold, or be swollen in the case of Damp.. For treatment the technique of using local and distal points is used. Distal points are chosen according to the meridians passing through the affected area and local points that are located around the affected joint.

Treatment: Eliminate Wind, Heat, Cold and Damp. For lesions along the spine use BL 60, KI 3, GB 34, BL 11, BL 23 and locally painful points along the spine. If a particular joint is affected, treat the meridian and the joint at the site of the lesion.

Muscle Trigger Points

Cats can also have muscle trigger points especially if there has been trauma. Treatment is by using distal points on a meridian that passes through the affected muscle and the site of the trigger point.

Non Union Fracture

Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate bone healing using points that tonify and move Qi along the meridians that pass through the affected area. The fracture site is encircled with needles.


Acute Moist Dermatitis

Cats with acute moist dermatitis ('Hot Spots') which are not flea or allergy related, may indicate pain. A cat may lick continuously at a painful area with arthritis, such as over the spine or over affected joints. Treat as for arthritis.

Over Grooming

In TCM any psychological disease is related to the Heart. A Liver Qi stagnation due to prolonged anger eventually gives rise to Heart Fire with restlessness, agitation, irritability, disturbed sleep and rapid pulse.

TCM Diagnosis: Heart Fire

Treatment: Dispel heat, pacify the mind and promote smooth flow of Liver Qi. PC 6, HT 8, HT 7, BL 15, SP 6, KI 6, LI 4, LIV 3



In TCM there are many causes of diarrhoea. Acute forms can be treated with acupuncture, but it is often the chronic cases that do not respond to other medication when acupuncture is useful.

TCM Diagnosis: Damp Heat in the Large Intestine.

Treatment: resolve Damp Heat and tonify Spleen-- GV 20, LI 11, GV 14, BL 20, BL 21, BL 25, ST 36, SP 6, SP 9, LIV 14. The clinical signs of chronic inflammatory bowel disease for which there is no known cause can be alleviated with acupuncture. Hypoallergenic diets may improve the condition.

Diagnosis: Deficient Qi of Large Intestine.

Treatment: Tonify Spleen Yang and stop diarrhoea. ST 25, GV 1, BL 57, LIV 14, LI 11, SP 6, SP 9, CV 12, BL 20.

Idiopathic Megacolon

Diagnosis: TCM Large Intestine Fluids Damaged

Treatment: Tonify Qi, nourish the Blood and Yin, moisten the intestines and promote bowel movement. ST 36, SP 6, KI 6, CV 4, LI 11, LI 4, TH 6, BL 20, BL 21, BL 25, ST 25, CV 12.


Both congenital and acquired megaoesophagus can be treated with acupuncture. The outcome can be variable, but generally there is an improvement in the vomiting or regurgitation which is the main symptom of this condition.

Treatment: LI 4, LI 11, HT 7, ST 36, ST 41, laser BL 11-20, SP 6, CV 12, CV 17. Gold Beads-LI 4, ST 36, BL 16, 17, 18, 20, 21.


Cat Flu--Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Viral diseases can be treated using acupuncture. Acupuncture is known to increase the immune response, reduce fever, stimulate the appetite and reduce the time for recovery.

Diagnosis: External invasion of Wind and Cold.

Treatment: release Exterior, eliminate Cold, stimulate the function of the Lungs LU 7, BL 12, GV 16, LI 4.

Purulent Nasal Discharge and Chronic Sinusitis

Diagnosis: Invasion of Lungs by Wind Heat.

Treatment: release Exterior, eliminate Heat and stimulate dispersing and descending function of Lungs LI 4, LU 11, GV 14, BL 12, GV 16, GV 20 reducing method, no moxa. If not resolved in the early stages of the disease, this thick nasal discharge becomes chronic. Acupuncture and antibiotics have the best outcome.

Diagnosis: Heat has transformed the mucus into Phlegm

Treatment: Remove Heat and Phlegm, tonify Lung. LI 4, LI 11, LI 20, LU 7, BL 13, YIN TANG, ST 36 and moxa along nose


Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Infectious Viraemia, Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Acupuncture can stimulate the body's immune response. These cats show an increased appetite and general well being.

TCM Diagnosis: Qi Deficiency

Treatment: tonify Wei Qi, tonify Qi and Blood, strengthen Kidney Qi. GV 20, GB 24, BL 17, BL 20, BL 23, ST 36, SP 6, SP 21, KI 3.

Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemia

Acupuncture has been shown to have a stimulating effect on the red cell count in patients recovering from anaemia. It has also been shown to affect the immune system.

TCM Diagnosis: Spleen Qi Deficiency

Treatment: ST 36, BL 17, BL 20, SP 6, LI 4, LI 11.


Acupuncture can be used for chronic epiphora secondary to cat flu, conjunctivitis secondary to cat flu or bacterial infections, dry eye, indolent ulcers and glaucoma. Local points used are:-LI 4, BL 1, BL 2, ST 1, ST 2, GB 1, TH 23, YIN TANG, add LIV 2 for red eyes, tonify Liver or Kidney points for dry eye BL 18 or BL 23. Tonify Kidney BL 23, KI 3 for glaucoma. Needles or Laser can be used for these points.



TCM Diagnosis: Stomach Heat

Treatment: Clear Stomach Heat LI 4, LI 11, BL 20, BL 21, ST 44, SP 6, CV 12.


Ischaemic Encephalopathy and Idiopathic Feline Vestibular Disease

The signs of Ischaemic Encephalopathy and Idiopathic Vestibular Disease can both be described in TCM as a Wind invasion either external or internal due to some underlying deficiency of Qi, Blood, or Yin (especially Kidney or Liver Yin).

Diagnosis: Wind due to deficiency of Liver Blood

Treatment: Subdue internal Wind and tonify Liver Blood GV 20, GV 16, GB 20, KI 1, PC 7 or PC 8, ST 40, LI 4, LIV 3 Both conditions can be treated with acupuncture.


Acupuncture can be beneficial in almost any geriatric pet. They respond by becoming more alert and interactive with their owners. LI 4, LI 11 and ST 36 are the main longevity points. They can be used alone or in addition to other points when treating another complaint.


GV 26 a point located midway along the line of the nasal philtrum is an important point to reverse shock.


1.  Acupuncture in Animals, Proceedings No 167 Australian Post Graduate Committee in Veterinary Science 1991.

2.  Ettinger S.J and Feldman E.C.: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Diseases of the Dog and Cat. 1995.

3.  Feline Medicine -Proceedings No 129, Australian Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science 1990.

4.  Feline Medicine -Proceeding No 243, Australian Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science 1995.

5.  Cat 2000- Australian Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science 2000.

6.  Kalkstein T.S., Kruger J.M., Osbourne C.A. Feline Ideopathic Urinary Tract

7.  Disease Part 1 Compendium of Continuing Education, Vol 21, No 1. January 1999.

Speaker Information
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Ulrike Wurth, BVSc, Dip Acup., IVAS Certified
Victoria, Australia

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