We defy anyone to find a lovelier cat than four-year-old domestic short hair Archie. He arrived at Lort Smith alongside his three littermates at just four weeks old with a severe case of cat flu.
Sadly, Archie contracted the feline herpes virus which he will carry for the duration of his life. The virus contributes to an ongoing issue with his sinus whereby Archie suffers from constant nasal congestion. He is a chronic feline snuffler and the culprit of messy wet sneezes. Additionally, he suffers skin and digestive problems.
Despite it all, ‘there is something very special about Archie’, says his carer Helen.
Only expected to live for two years, Archie made for the perfect ‘kitty-pig’ for Dr Amanda who recently achieved certification in veterinary acupuncture.
The technique of acupuncture has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments. For Archie, it has literally been life changing.
“Dr Amanda’s acupuncture treatment enables Archie’s head to be relieved of his mucus by helping it to drain. He gets headaches so this helps relieve the tension in his head. It also covers a lot of his other health issues and keeps him on track,” says Helen.
Dr Amanda holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Science but since undertaking her additional studies in Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine and acupuncture, she now also includes tongue descriptions and femoral tone in her clinical exam.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific anatomical points over the body to achieve different effects. Unlike humans who are often laying still, veterinarians don’t always get that luxury with animals.
“On his first visit we were both worried about how he would respond to the acupuncture but he just sat there and let Dr Amanda do her work. She has a beautiful gentle aura around her which transfers to the animal. We have developed a great routine where Archie eats his treats throughout the procedure and then flops down to relax. He knows the drill!” shares Helen.
“I have been working with Archie for two years now and through lots of positive reinforcement, coupled with his wonderful nature, he has become a gold star patient! He is very tolerant and mostly relaxes into his sessions, but does have certain spots he doesn’t like the needles, such as his forelegs, which is common in a lot of animals as the area can be sensitive. In addition, there are acupoints that directly relate to his head and neck in his forelimbs which are often tender from his condition,” explains Dr Amanda.
Dr Amanda aims for 15-20 minutes of needle time but states that even if the animal only gets five minutes before shaking/flicking the needles out, you’ve still stimulated the acupoint.
“The insertion of the needle stimulates the local tissues and will induce some local chemical changes which promote the energetic reaction we are trying to achieve,” shares Dr Amanda.
Archie receives acupuncture in many different points depending on his presentation at each session.
“Traditional Chinese medicine proposes that the essence of one’s lifespan resides in kidneys. Archie has been unwell since birth. The essence of him has been affected, so I always try to boost his kidneys when he comes in,” says Dr Amanda.
Archie still has good days and bad days. While his skin and gut concerns are now under control, he still suffers with congestion.
“Unfortunately Archie’s sinus condition cannot be cured, but we can, and are, certainly making him more comfortable with acupuncture,” states Dr Amanda.
In addition to acupuncture Archie receives nasal flushes plus supportive diet and medical management.
“Both Archie and I can’t thank Dr Amanda enough. She is such a gem and has helped Archie so much with his problems,” praises Helen.