Our pet sitter affectionately refers to Otis, one of our cats, as the Love Sponge. And it's a very appropriate name for him. He is just so darn loveable and cuddly and wants nothing more than to love and be loved. My father-in-law says "that's the way a cat should be."
The Love Sponge makes it a point to sleep in our bed at night, as close as he can possibly get to me. His favorite spots are between my legs (urgh!) or beside my head, practically on the pillow with me. One day last week, as I was rousing from a deep sleep, I reached out to push him off of my pillow so I could move. He screamed out in pain, jumped off the bed and ran away. When I came to my senses and tracked him down, I proceeded to run my hands up and down his body and he screamed and writhed in pain, then he retreated under the bed, something he only does when he hears thunder!
I immediately called our vet and made an appointment for the first available time slot that day. An x-ray revealed what our vet described as "the worst case of degenerative arthritis in a cat that I've ever seen." You can clearly see all the gaps, or bridges, in the x-ray below that signify a narrowing around the vertebrae and impingement of the nerves. My poor Otis! This didn't happen overnight, so he has most likely been suffering with pain for years.
Since surgery is out of the question due to his age and the fact that it might do more harm than good (paralysis), we opted for a more holistic approach and got a referral to a vet who does acupuncture. Today was our first appointment.
The vet could not believe how friendly and laid-back Otis was, even while she manipulated his limbs and then began poking in needles along his various nerve centers.
He moved and shifted from side to side, which she allowed and said was normal, but he never fussed or tried to get away. As a matter of fact, at one point, he seemed to be sleeping. The vet said that when the endorphins are released into the body, it's not uncommon for the patient to get extremely relaxed, even dose off.
I was so intent on taking pictures that I lost track of how many needles she used, but there were at least 12 in him at one point. After about 15 minutes, the vet removed the needles and gave Mr. Love Sponge a good scratch and a compliment about his exceptional behavior.
The plan now is to see how he is doing in a couple of days, then reschedule for a follow-up treatment. From there, we hope to be able to maintain his pain with treatments once a month or every other month. Given his positive reaction to today's treatment, the vet was very encouraged. Not only did I leave with a happy, relaxed cat, I got a referral for a people acupuncturist who the vet said is wonderful. I may just have to make an appointment for myself to see if it helps with my intermittent back pain. Now really, what kind of a mother would I be if I subjected my cat to something I wasn't willing to try?