can't hold head up or walk well after acupuncture

by donna

my cat got lower and upper x-rays of body but none of head.
was diagnoised with bad arthritis 2 months ago. Has not done well with any medicines so we tried laser therapy. First 4 went well, didn't walk well after the 5th and after the 6th treatment he could not walk well or hold his head up. Stopped laser and did adequan shots. Not much results so vet recommended acupuncture. Did first one 2 days ago. On ride home could feel his muscles shaking. When I set him down at home he could hardly walk and can barely hold his head up. A specialist read his x-rays and said he doesn't have bone cancer. I can't find anywhere that says laser therapy or acupuncture causes such traumatic results. Nobody can give me an answer as to why he does so poorly. Duralactin-feline paste w/lysine caused the same reaction. This is the third time he has gone thru this. It lasts about 3 days before he gets back to normal.
He walks like a newborn animal and can't lift his head while walking or even while laying down. He threw up twice
after 10 hours of acupuncture. He just turned 13.Is an American shorthair. Never could jump. No previous trauma. Is in remission from diabietes for 4 years. Any help would be appreciated.


I know it is difficult to watch a beloved pet suffer pain. And it sounds like you’ve tried most of the therapies available to no avail. I took a different path with my cat that is also 13 years old (like yours). I usually try to get them pain relief and to make their lives easier first, then pursue a more permanent path.

With arthritis in cats alternative paths are typically laser therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and massage. You have tried the laser therapy and acupuncture but the results are miserable and I’d be having a fit if it appeared that my cat was worse off than before…as it sounds like your cat is.

You have mentioned the age of your cat but not if he is overweight. I’m assuming that because he had been diabetic and is in remission that it isn’t an issue. You also said that he hadn’t done well with medicine…but which ones were tried???

Some of the major drugs for pain relief of arthritis pain in cats are buprenorphine, tramadol, Fentanyl, and gabapentin. Metacam is sometimes used for a very brief period of time but is dangerous for cats with longer time usage. Plus, there are nutriceutical supplements such as glucosamine etc. that help protect the cartilage in the joints. And, there is Adequan, an injectable medication that is reasonably effective for some cats.

Your cat isn’t responding to some methods and it’s almost like the poor thing is feeling stressed although your intentions are obviously to help take the pain and stress away. Remember, I am not a vet and I can only tell you what has worked for me and my arthritic cat.

First, with the advice of my vet, we tried Metacam for a few days to see if my cat responded. She did. Then she was switched to buprenorphine which is safer. It is a liquid that is easy to administer because it’s a small .1ml dose that you just shoot into the cheek. My cat opens her mouth to complain, it’s done. This is done twice a day, 12 hours apart. For a couple of days she did a little spit-up after eating, then everything leveled out.

Secondly, I tried giving the joint supplement for hip & joint health in a “treat” form soft chew (chicken flavor) and she gets one as a reward after each pain med. She likes them (2 a day but you can give 4 a day for the first weeks to jump start the benefits). There are a number of brands available from many vendors but I use the GNC Pet brand which has 200 mg-glucosamine + 100 mg-chondroitin + 100 mg MSM with added omega-3 fatty acids. I happen to purchase them from PetSmart but you can try your local pet store or for a variety of such products you can get the link to EntirelyPets on my Pet Products page.

Thirdly, I have now placed a small stair in front of the bed and in front of the window chair that my cat likes to get on top of to look out the window. This takes the stress of jumping higher and enables just a short hop to the stair and then to the chair or bed.

She has been on the pain meds and supplements for around 6 months. With the ability to get some exercise because of the reduced pain, she has improved even more and in the last month I’ve been able to reduce her pain meds to once a day without any negative reaction. She still gets her two soft chew supplements though.

So, my suggestion is to realize that the treatment for the pain relief from arthritis isn’t going to happen overnight and as much as we both, as cat lovers, would love to see a miracle cure wipe out the pain…the reality is that it is an ongoing issue.

First work with your vet to get the right pain medicine in place, second get your cat on joint supplements that will help in the longer term, and third put a few short stairs in place to help your cat reach areas above the floor level that the cat wants to go to. And lastly, a lot of extra loving and affection will go a long way. Best wishes to you both.

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