Senior cats are prone to developing kidney disease and other age-related issues. Find out how acupressure can improve your aging kitty’s longevity and quality of life.
Aging is rarely easy for anyone, including our senior cats. A variety of health issues can arise as cats get older, ranging from arthritis to kidney disease. Along with a nutritious diet, adequate exercise and regular veterinary care, acupressure can help make your cat’s golden years healthier and more comfortable.
Felines are considered elderly by the age of 11, and enter the geriatric phase at 15. The life expectancy of an individual cat depends on a number of factors, including general health, nutrition, genetics, plus mental and physical activity levels. Indicators of feline aging include:
- Difficulty grooming (lack of flexibility)
- Avoidance of physical activity
- Nails overgrowing
- Tooth decay
- Loss of hearing
- Inability to curl into a tight ball to sleep
- Difficulty walking and/or jumping
- Obesity regardless of amount of food eaten
- Appearing and feeling more skeletal (loss of muscle mass)
Veterinarians list age-related illnesses commonly seen in senior cats as kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, thyroid problems, extensive dental disease, cancer, and feline dementia (or cognitive dysfunction syndrome). Currently, kidney disease is cited as the number-on cause of death.
Despite all this, the feline lifespan has increased over the decades thanks to improvements in veterinary medicine, access to higher quality food, and a growing interest in complementary therapies. This begs the question of how to enhance an older cat’s comfort, contentment and quality of life so she can enjoy her senior years. How can we make this time of life as affliction-free as possible?
Taking an integrative approach to your cat’s health will bring the best benefits to her quality of life and longevity. This means taking your cat for an annual (more frequently, if necessary) check-up with a holistic or integrative veterinarian; offering an appropriate diet; providing mentally and physically-engaging exercise – and balancing your cat’s internal functions with an acupressure session every third or fourth day.
Focus on kidney function
As your cat ages, her organ function in general declines, which means her body is not receiving adequate nourishment. When organ function declines, the entire body can fall prey to illness such as kidney disease and other aging issues. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we look to the Kidney organ system to support and sustain life because the Kidney is considered “The Root of Life”.
When organ function declines, the entire body can fall prey to illness such as kidney disease and other aging issues.
Because cats are so prone to kidney disease, an acupressure session that addresses kidney function specifically can be beneficial. Specific acupoints are known to help support the Kidney organ system, and can be used in healthy cats as well as those with kidney issues. When you stimulate the acupoints shown in the chart below, you will actually help enhance the harmonious flow of chi (life force energy) and blood within both the kidney itself, and the cat’s entire body (see sidebar for instructions on stimulating acupoints).
Acupressure for general aging
To postpone some of the inevitable effects of aging, and possibly even extend your cat’s life, you can also stimulate the acupoints shown on the “General Aging Acupressure Session” chart (page xx). The selected acupoints are intended to support respiratory function, digestion, and circulation of blood and chi.
Simple acupressure technique
It may take one or two sessions before your cat understands that what you are offering him will help him feel better. Once they get the idea, most cats will make themselves available, and some can become very demanding!
Begin your acupressure session by taking three deep breaths to center yourself. Have your cat comfortably on your lap or next to you. Rest one hand on her while your other hand does the point work.
Place your middle finger on top of your index finger to create a little tent. Then lightly put the soft tip of your index finger on the acupoint, and either count slowly to ten, or remain on the point for as long as your cat seems comfortable. Move to the next point on the same side when you and your cat are ready. Once you have completed the acupoints on one side, repeat them on the opposite side.
When used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle, along with regular veterinary care, both these acupressure sessions can help your senior cat stay healthy and happy for as long as possible.