Cat Laser Therapy
Everything You Should Know About Laser Therapy for Cats
Cat laser therapy is an effective modality to help alleviate pain and discomfort from a chronic illness or speed up healing from an injury or wound. This non-invasive procedure is risk-free for your cat and stress-free for you, making it a viable option to help your cat heal and even reduce their medications. If your cat is a candidate for laser therapy, you likely looked online to learn more about it. At GeniusVets, we believe that pet care information should come from veterinarians and not the internet, especially with topics as specific as cat laser therapy. That’s why we’ve taken the top cat laser therapy FAQs, sent these questions to renowned veterinarians across the U.S., and compiled their replies to provide you with information you can trust.
While we've sourced all of the cat laser therapy information and recommendations below directly from leading veterinarians across the country, please make sure to seek out the advice of your own veterinarian or find a trusted vet near you using the GeniusVets Directory.
Cat laser therapy puts light into the body, which is absorbed by cells and goes into the mitochondria, where energy is produced, making the cells work. Your veterinarian shines an incredibly focused laser light into the area needing treatment, and the mitochondria produce energy to get those cells back to healing and functioning again.
Laser therapy helps to improve the health and wellbeing of your cat in many ways, specifically when they are experiencing pain and discomfort.
Laser therapy helps cats in the following ways:
- Improves the cells’ ability to heal by increasing their function and giving them more energy if they're old, tired, or diseased
- Removes inflammation and pain
- Decreases inflammation by reducing cell death, since inflammation leads to more inflammation and pain, causing more cell degeneration
In particular, cats are challenging to tell when they're experiencing pain because they are very good at hiding it. For this reason, you must bring them in to see your veterinarian for a complete physical exam. By the time you do notice that your cat is in pain, they have probably been in pain for a very long time, and whatever disease is ailing them has likely progressed. If you recognize something wrong, take them to your veterinarian, who will tell you what is going on and determine how they can best help your cat.
Laser therapy has many excellent uses. While we use primarily to treat pain and inflammation, it also has many other uses that help with chronic issues your cat may be experiencing.
Cat laser therapy can treat:
- Constipation or obstipation, when the nerves to the colon are not working well, often due to spinal disease
- Musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis, arthritis, and hip dysplasia
- Wounds, including post-surgical wounds
- Bone fractures
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Your cat should experience relief within a couple of weeks of starting laser therapy, with an improvement of symptoms happening in two to three weeks. As with many alternative modalities used, it depends on how long your cat has been suffering from the condition. If it's been a long time, it's going to take longer for them to feel the benefits of laser therapy. Sometimes, your veterinarian might need to use traditional ways to stabilize your cat and get them feeling more comfortable and use laser therapy to help the healing along. There is a distinct difference between treating a condition and allowing healing to happen. Veterinarians treat diseases, but you need to ask what you can do to help the body heal.
The goal of laser therapy is not to just make your cat more comfortable but also to have them on fewer medications. Many cat owners ask, "Is there anything I can do so I don't have to put three or four medications into my cat?" Unfortunately, most cats don’t like to take medications, so laser therapy allows veterinarians to use fewer of them.
It depends on the disease, but in some cases, laser therapy can cure your cat. However, most of the time, it’s used to treat a chronic condition – managing pain, re-establishing good function, and getting your cat comfortable without meds. Most of the time, laser therapy won’t cure a cat, and they’ll need some form of treatment continued for life, whether it’s medication, laser therapy, or veterinary orthopedic manipulation.
The number of laser therapy treatments depends on what we are treating and the age of the cat. If it's an acute injury, your cat will probably only need 5-7 treatments. Once your cat is comfortable, it's done. In the more common cases dealing with chronic issues and cats on many medications, they might need 14 treatments to get to a place where they’re comfortable and on minimal meds. At that point, your veterinarian will establish a frequency of treatment for maintenance purposes. That usually means monthly treatments for senior cats over 13-14 years old, with younger cats only needing treatment for 3-4 months.
Your cat will not experience any adverse side effects from laser therapy. As with veterinary orthopedic manipulation, the main side effect is improved cell function at a cellular level. You're giving the cells more energy, so they’re producing more energy and getting back to work. That is the side effect, but a positive one.
There was a time when many thought you shouldn’t use laser therapy on a cat with cancer. However, when a veterinarian uses lasers, they’re using specific frequencies and plugging those numbers into a machine that communicates with a particular type of cell. That cell, and only that cell, will absorb the frequency of light and produce energy. Since they're not communicating with the cancer cells, they're not giving them any energy and making the cancer worse. While laser therapy is not used to treat cancer itself, the side effect of using a laser is that your cat’s immune system cells will get stronger and produce more energy. That means they’re going to better fight anything around them.
A veterinarian will know when laser therapy is a good idea for your cat based on their professional experience. There are certain issues they treat all the time, and when they run into a brick wall and nothing seems to be working, it's time to look at other options, which would include laser therapy. It’s often because cats won't take pills, and it’s, therefore, difficult to get them comfortable. Laser therapy is a modality that we can use to get a cat comfortable quickly.
Your veterinarian will review their medical records for cats with chronic issues and look at the complete diagnostic scenario to determine options. This review will help them decide if laser therapy is a viable option or possibly something else such as veterinary orthopedic manipulation. Don’t hesitate to ask for these treatments, and your veterinarian will be honest about the likelihood of success.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) offers additional insight about laser therapy, including laser classifications and the best candidates for this type of treatment. If you have further questions about cat laser therapy, reach out to your veterinarian. If you don't have one yet, we can help you find a local veterinarian!