Aggression/Anxiety/Fear Handling Health Lucy Chronicles

The Lucy Chronicles: Cat Acupuncture

How animal acupuncture works and what to expect during a session.

Cat with acupuncture needles.
My little pin cushion.

I know, acupuncture for a cat sounds crazy. Know what’s crazier? It actually helps! Acupuncture has a calming effect on many living things, and if there’s one thing Miss Lucy needs help with, it’s staying calm. A huge thank you goes out to Lucy’s acupuncturist, Dr. Kate Vickery, and her tech, Alyssa. They deserve an award for their patience because Lucy isn’t always the easiest patient.

Quite simply, Lucy’s brain developed differently because she was the victim of severe neglect. She gets overstimulating very easily, so anything that relaxes her or slows down her brain is a plus for her and for me.

In this pic, you can see the needles in Lucy’s head for calming, along with a number in her back to support liver, kidney, and other functions. It is not painful, and has a very calming effect on her. We’re going to dive into how it all works, and what to expect if you decide to take your pet/foster for a session.

What Is Acupuncture

Cat with needles in her head
Needles in the head are for calming.

According to the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, acupuncture is the act of inserting needles into the skin at very specific points on the body to improve natural functions. Acupuncture benefits patients physically and emotionally by working in two ways:

Opens Energy Flow Through Meridians

Energy flows throughout the body in specific patterns called meridians. Needles unblock any obstructions in energy so the flow is normal. This allows the body to correct imbalances in digestion, absorption, and “energy production activities.”

Stimulates Nervous System

Needles inserted into acu-points stimulates the nervous system, which releases chemicals and hormones in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain and changes the experience of pain.

What Happens During an Acupuncture Session

Prep & Travel

Lucy takes 100mg of gabapentin 2x a day. She MUST receive it the morning of an appointment; if she doesn’t get it, she VERY distracted and more aggressive at her appointment.

Cat relaxing in car.
Lucy relaxes in the car and listens to classical music.

By now, she is used to the routine, and actually walks into her carrier without much resistance. Once we are in the car, I put on classical music, and let her free roam. She typically settles in the back seat on a blanket and relaxes. Also, she normally gets car sick at some point on the way there, so I cover my entire car with towels. She doesn’t get sick on the way home (more proof that the acupuncture helps her, because early on, she used to get sick on the way home too).


The room is the definition of zen, with meditation music, a Himalayan salt lamp, diffuser, and lots of Feliway spray.

Needle Placement

How do you stick an aggressive living thing with needles? While Lucy eats treats or rubs against one of us, Dr. Vickery places 10-15 needles in specific locations to promote:

  • Calming
  • Immunity
  • Brain & head
  • Blood
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Energy


cat on towel
Lucy near the end of her session – super relax and having an acu-high.

Lucy walks around, but as the needles start to do their job, you can see her body relax. She almost falls asleep, and has what her acupuncturist calls an acu-high. During this time, she often stands or sits in the same spot.


Lucy has worked her way from 20 min. to 30 min., which is GREAT for a cat.

Needle Removal

Cat with needles
Lots of needles.

In Lucy’s case, she only tolerates the calming needles in her head for so long (she’s very sensitive). She eventually knocks them out. Even if an animal knocks a needle out right after it’s placed, there is still a benefit. The actual sticking of the needle helps unblock obstructions, and release chemicals.

Dr. Vickery always says it’s important to follow the animal’s lead: She will tell us what she wants and when she’s had enough.


This is a hard question to answer, because there are a lot of variables. The initial consultative session is typically more expensive, but a Google search reveals each normal session can run anywhere from $25-120 (so … throw a dart … haha). You can ask for a range before you make your initial appointment.

Appointment Frequency

Cat at session.
Lucy waiting for needles.

Lucy’s appointments were consistently four weeks apart, but we have now graduated to 5-6 weeks apart. Typically, I can tell the week before her appointment that she’s due. She starts to get extra grouchy.

Animals are all different, so your acupuncturist will advise on how often your pet needs to come in for a treatment.

Is Acupuncture Right for My Pet?

Cat sitting on towel.
Lucy waiting to get needled at acupuncture.

If your pet/foster has stress, aggression, or any chronic health problems (ex. arthritis, GI disease, etc.), acupuncture is worth a shot! There’s nothing to lose. To find a vet who does it, Google a city in your area along with the terms “veterinary acupuncture.”

Again, a HUGE THANK YOU to Dr. Kate Vickery, a veterinary oncologist and acupuncturist. Miss Lucy is more balanced because of YOU are your recommdation of the miracle calming supplement Solliquin.

Read my post on how Solliquin works and see if it’s a fit for your anxious kitty or pup.

By LizsKittyBootCamp

Hi, I'm Liz, and I'm a cat behaviorist who provides advice and insights on cat behavior.

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