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Can Acupuncture Help with Cat Anxiety?

Humans have used acupuncture to treat a whole range of ailments, including migraines and arthritis, for thousands of years. Not wanting our fluffy companions to miss out, this technique is used in the veterinary field too.

Cat acupuncture can help to treat cat anxiety, symptoms of stress and many other health problems that plague our feline companions.

If you are considering cat acupuncture as a way to soothe your kitty’s anxiety, here is everything you need to know.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical technique that involves the insertion of tiny needles into specific parts of the body, called acupoints. This all sounds a little painful but it’s actually known to be calming, even on cats. The process is designed to remove blockages in the body’s natural energy flow by stimulating specific acupuncture points.

Acupuncture was first performed on animals around 4000 years ago. Today, the practice is used worldwide. However, there are differences between Eastern and Western practices. In Eastern cultures, cat acupuncture is performed by inserting needles into Chi meridians in the body to balance energy flow. 

In Chinese medicine, meridians are channels through which the life force and other vital substances flow. These are connected to the five elements of wood, fire, earth, water, and metal which are believed to form everything in the universe, including us. When these meridians are blocked, animals and humans can both suffer from health problems, including anxiety.  

In Western medicine, cat acupuncture can be explained as inserting needles into specific points on the body to stimulate nerve centers. This decreases inflammation and helps with pain management because it causes your cat to release their own natural pain-relieving substances. 

Whether acupuncture is a spiritual or medical practice, it has been proven to help soothe ailments such as stress and anxiety in our feline companions. 

Can acupuncture help my cat?

Cat acupuncture has become a popular procedure in the veterinary industry and has shown some fantastic results. Despite what you may think, it’s completely painless and safe for cats as long as it’s performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist. NEVER try to perform acupuncture on your cat by yourself as this can lead to injury.

Many cats even take short naps during the procedure (yes, acupuncture is THAT relaxing!). If you would like to see cat acupuncture in action, check out this video

If your cat is suffering from chronic pain or stress, you may want to discuss acupuncture as an option with your vet. However, remember that cats are very good at hiding signs of pain. So, illness may just show as lethargy or a change in behavior which can be difficult to detect. For this reason, it’s essential that you seek veterinary advice if your cat starts acting oddly or seems out of sorts. 

Conditions that can be treated by cat acupuncture

Cat acupuncture can treat a wide range of health conditions in cats, including:

  • Inflammation
  • Cat Anxiety
  • Lumbosacral disease 
  • Kidney disease 
  • Arthritis in back
  • Asthma
  • Allergies 
  • Chronic Pain
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anorexia
  • Muscle spasms 

Cat acupuncture has also shown some astonishing results in pain management during cancer treatment.

Acupuncture points on a cat’s body

There are numerous pressure points (or meridians) on a cat’s body where needles are inserted during acupuncture. These are:

  • All major joints 
  • Paws
  • Along the spine 
  • At the base of the tail
  • At the base of the ears 
  • Neck 

Depending on each individual cat, all or some of these pressure points may be used. Your cat may feel a tiny prick when the needles are inserted but this shouldn’t cause any pain. The needles are often left in the body for 20-30 minutes and sometimes gently twisted to stimulate the area.

Benefits of acupuncture in cats

cat acupuncture veterinary performing acupuncture needle near cat head

Acupuncture experts have witnessed a number of benefits on the body of cats after acupuncture has been performed. These include, increased blood circulation, improved immune response, and the release of endorphins in the brain and spinal cord that can help soothe cat anxiety. 

Acupuncture has even been shown to release natural pain relieving neurotransmitters in the brain and can prevent muscle spasms. 

However, bear in mind that acupuncture doesn’t work like a one-time injection. You may need multiple sessions before you start to see improvements in your kitty’s condition.

Types of cat acupuncture:

cat anxiety vet holding a acupuncture needle near cat's back

Acupuncture techniques have come a long way since they were first practiced in Ancient China. There are now a variety of ways this procedure can be performed, including:

Needle acupuncture:

The manual insertion of tiny needles on specific parts of the body. This is the standard acupuncture technique, with each session lasting for 20-30 minutes. 

Laser acupuncture:

Needles are not needed in this type of acupuncture because the acupoints are stimulated with the help of infrared lasers. This makes it a great non-invasive alternative to the traditional method.

The time period of laser acupuncture can vary depending on the type of health problem that needs treating. However, it’s usually carried out once a week for 6 weeks.


Also known as Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS), electroacupuncture uses filiform needles connected to an electrical pulsing device, to stimulate different points of the body.

During the procedure, the electric pulse travels between two needles, and more than one pair of needles can be stimulated at the same time. Each session usually runs for around 30 minutes and the frequency of the pulsing is controlled entirely by your veterinarian. 

This form of acupuncture is often used to treat conditions such as joint stiffness, post-operative pain, colic, peripheral nerve paralysis, and gastrointestinal and upper respiratory diseases.

Side effects of acupuncture in cats

Adverse side effects from acupuncture in cats are relatively rare. Generally, it’s a harmless and painless procedure. However, some cats may experience certain symptoms after treatment including:

  • Soreness
  • Dizziness 
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea
  • Bruises where needles were placed 
  • Slight bleeding 

These symptoms are more likely to occur in cats that don’t like to be touched, or ones that are prone to aggression. If the cat moves during the procedure, the gauge needles may cause wounds to develop on the skin. Always speak to your vet prior to starting cat acupuncture to determine if your kitty is a good candidate. 


Q1.How much time does cat acupuncture take?

Each session of cat acupuncture usually takes around 15-30 minutes. You will also be able to stay with your feline companion throughout the whole procedure.

Q2. Does acupuncture really work in cats?

Yes it does! Acupuncture has shown incredible results in treating various conditions such as arthritis, liver disease and even cancer.

Q3. How many sessions of acupuncture does a cat need?

The length of acupuncture treatment can vary between cats, depending on their health condition, age, and temperament. However, as a general guide, treatments are performed once a week for 3-6 weeks.

Many cats respond quickly to acupuncture treatment. However, multiple sessions may be required for improved results.

Q4. Is acupuncture painful for cats?

No, acupuncture is not painful for cats, as long as the procedure is performed by a qualified acupuncturist. Most cats cope with the procedure very well.

Final Thoughts on Cat Acupuncture and Cat Anxiety

Cat acupuncture is a technique that can be used to treat anxiety, arthritis, nerve paralysis and other health problems in felines. With innovative advancements in technology, clinicians are now able to practice many types of acupuncture depending on the condition and the individual needs of each animal. Remember to always consult with your vet prior to any course of treatment, including cat acupuncture.


Ali Raza, Veterinarian DVM, MPhil Veterinary Pathology

Ali Raza, Veterinarian DVM, MPhil Veterinary Pathology

Ali is a passionate veterinarian and veterinary content writer. He ensures our articles are top-notch and include all the necessary information for the care of your cats. Ali completed the DVM in 2020 and is currently working on a Masters (MPhil) in Veterinary Pathology at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan. Ali loves using content writing as a way of communicating scientific information to pet owners for the benefit of cats, dogs and all pets and animals worldwide.