What Is A Holistic Vet and Does My Cat Need One?

What is a Holistic Vet?

Choosing the right vet for your asthma cat is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Sparrow’s wheeziness has taught me that not all vets are created equal but they’re pretty close. It takes a wonderfully special person to become a vet in the first place – if you’re an animal lover, take that feeling and imagine it on steroids. That – plus a few years of vet school – is what it takes to be a vet.

But there’s more to it than just being able to read X-rays and prescribe medications. As with human medical stuff, there are many different ways to treat a patient, depending on the patient, the symptoms and really just about everything else. If you’re the over protective mother type like me, you’ll want to make sure the love of your life is getting the best possible care with minimal side effects.


What is a Holistic Vet?

According to Wikipedia, holistic veterinary medicine uses alternative therapies as well as conventional methods in the treatment of animal patients. Holistic vets look at the whole animal and focus on minimally invasive treatments. They’re trained vets who take a more gentle, empathic approach to animal wellness and lifestyle things like diet, stress reduction and love. And who doesn’t want their precious pet treated with bucketloads of love?

Here’s the beautiful Dr Fong with his special message about holistic therapies for your pet:

Holistic vets may use alternative therapies such as homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine and a host of other ‘healing arts’. The focus is on treating the whole animal, not just the symptoms. You may occasionally see it written as ‘wholistic’ for these reasons. A holistic vet will approach symptoms from a variety of different angles, to address health and wellness as a whole.


How’s That Different to a Normal Vet?

A traditional vet will tend to look at a symptom and use a method to correct it. For example, if your cat has a sore eye, a traditional vet will look at the eye and use their training to offer a cure for the eye. There’s nothing wrong with this approach – after all, the reason you’re visiting is to fix a sore eye, so if your vet can offer something to cure the eye their job’s done.Holistic Vet

Using the same example of a sore eye, a holistic vet will look at the whole animal and its environment, not just the eye. As Dr Fong explained in the video, our pets are sensitive to their surroundings and to their humans, so a holistic vet might offer treatment not only for the eye but also for any anxiety and stress that the kitty might be picking up from us, along with other medical factors that could be manifesting in that shonky eye. 

Traditional vets are, of course, still vets – they are highly qualified and filled with the love and respect for animals that we demand as caring pet owners. Their game is to tackle the problem from one specific angle to fix that specific problem.


Real Medicine or Quackery?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding some of the alternative therapies that a holistic vet may use. Homeopathy, for example, is largely believed to be a pseudo-science or something that is thought to be scientific but really isn’t. There are mixed views on whether or not herbal or homeopathic remedies actually work, and your view may depend on your personal research, beliefs and experience.

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Reiki, which work to correct imbalanced energy flows seem to be more widely tolerated as ‘real’ and effective treatments. Perhaps because these ancient remedies are more well known, the general view seems to be that there’s something in them worth trying. 

Even if these kinds of treatments seem a bit ‘woo-woo’ to you, there’s still the holistic philosophy of treating the whole animal, which should not be sneezed at. There’s no doubt that things like correct diet, environmental enrichment, stress reduction and TLC will do worlds of good for your pet – in my opinion, that’s more than enough reason to seek out a vet who will look at more than just a single symptom.


How to Find The Right Holistic Vet 

There is no separate qualification or certification that makes a vet holistic. Any vet can market themselves as holistic, but the difference really boils down to additional specialised training and an open-minded approach to all avenues of treatment.

Feline asthma can be a tricky business. Once a definitive diagnosis has been made, it’s often a matter of educated trial and error to figure out how best to treat it. Maybe you’ve tried traditional, synthetic medication but found that it doesn’t work for your kitty and you want to try other treatments. Traditional veterinary medicine can be a bit limited – there’s nothing wrong with switching vets if you feel the need.

What is a Holistic Vet?

Do your homework and shop around for a holistic vet – personal recommendation is often best, so your friends and family are a good place to start your research. You might have to visit a few different vets for an initial consultation before you find one who’s a good fit. Trust your gut and if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular vet, don’t go back there.

You can get your search started with The American Holistic Veterinarian Medical Association’s VetFinder. It’s not just for Americans, either – they have listings for several other countries as well. Check it out here.


Whether you choose to stick with traditional or seek out a holistic vet is entirely up to you. There’s no right or wrong answer, it will all depend on your views of alternative therapies, your relationship with your chosen vet and of course your relationship with your asthma cat.

How much do you love your vet? Would you be willing to switch to someone who can offer more than conventional treatment? Head on down to the comments and share your thoughts…


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  1. This is interesting. I don’t mind if I have to swap the vet for my cat. As long I have a good recommendation from the others pet owners. Well for now I don’t have a any cats around. I have before and she died because of infection on her leg. 🙁

  2. Thanks for sharing this information. I had actually been under the impression holistic was the same as homeopathic which based on most of my knowledge was a debunked ‘science.’ I do of course like the idea of my vet taking into account the entire environment my cat lives within. At the moment I use a more traditional vet, but I feel like when I bring up environmental related issues/concerns with him he takes them into account.

    For other people that might want a flavor of the holistic approach they might want to ensure they come armed at the vet with information and solid questions. After all, just like your personal doctor, if you don’t come prepared all they can really do is give you general information.

    Thanks for this great post Shirley!

    1. I think that’s a mix-up a lot of people make, Craig. Check out this article I wrote on homeopathy, it’s something that’s worth exploring I reckon. But your cats are healthy, right? So you’re doing something well, and they were not born faulty like my little Sparrow, so you’re off to a good start!

      Personally, I never go to the vet without a list of questions. If they weren’t such lovely people at the clinic we go to I think they would’ve kicked me out for being so annoying by now.

      Thanks for stopping by again, it’s always nice to hear from you.

      1. Haha, yes, I got very lucky with my two furballs. They are both generally healthy. The worst we’ve got here is one doesn’t like to be brushed all that much.

        Good for you on always going well prepared. I will definitely check the article out!

  3. Thank you so much for such an informative article. You provided a really good and very insightful link. I am definitely willing to switch to someone who can offer more than conventional treatment…

  4. Sparrow is so adorable, I love cats. I was told a long time ago that I should become a vet but I could never put an animal down. Integrative pet health care is great. I will have to find one in my area. I love the video about Dr. Fong. Animals that want to go to a vet in itself is amazing. There may also be a debate on whether or not homeopathy is quackery or not. I study alternative medicine and this is a fabulous idea for all pet lovers, thank you.

    1. Isn’t Dr Fong great? I almost want to move to the other side of the world just so he can be my vet. There’s no way he’d be allowed to retire then! I’m a big fan of alternative and natural remedies for myself and for Sparrow, I think it’s something we overlook too often. Thanks for saying hi, Candice!

  5. Hi Shirley (and Sparrow),

    Wow–as someone who is largely ignorant of the world of veterinarian medicine and domestic animal-related symptoms, this was completely enlightening for me! I enjoyed learning some new terminology such as “homeopathy”, and organizations such as “The American Holistic Veterinarian Medical Association’s VetFinder”.

    Was most closely resonated with me is the recognition of holistic care–as someone who works to promote holistic counseling, I completely agree with the possible added benefits of looking at felines and their negative symptoms as whole beings, when it comes to proper treatment.

    Thanks for sharing–very well written article and solid recommendations and perspective!

    1. Hi Jabril,

      I completely agree with you, we too often overlook the energetic side of healing – it does seem a bit ‘woo-woo’ but it’s important! Everything is energy, after all.
      Thanks for visiting.

  6. As someone who is getting in to Holistic Nutrition (for humans), I can appreciate that this service is becoming available for animals. I am sure that looking at the whole animal, and any external factors can only be helpful to a being that cannot speak in our language to ask for help. Not everything can be fixed with pills, but if that is a last resort, then so be it.

    1. That’s exactly right, Irma. There are many other things that can help that aren’t pills. Thanks for saying hi!

  7. I just knew that animal has Holistic Vet.Use a different approach to cure our pet. it is really interesting. You give some valuable information to me.Great video with Dr. Fong

  8. Hi Shirley, thank you for creating such a wonderful website. I didn’t realise that there were alternative options to help our domestic pets as well. It is great that websites such as yours exists. It never actually occurred to me that pets can carry “human stress” as well. This was certainly an eye opener for me. Thank you for sharing this information with me.

    1. Thansk Bec, what a lovely compliment. Our pets are far more intuitive than we know, it’s what makes them so special. Come back and say hi again some time!

  9. Choosing a holistic vet may be a better alternative to a regular vet if they can diagnose a cats problem better. A cat may respond to natural healing remedies better than modern medicines. Perhaps you can use them for a second pinion if you think the regular vet is in error.

  10. This is really interesting stuff. I like that you brought up the science aspect too, since a lot of people immediately rule out holistic medicine as quackery but you brought a very logical reason to use it. Thinking outside the box and treating the whole animal and considering its environment. I have a high maintenance cat with a lot of bladder issues and im wondering if a holistic vet would give different/better treatment advice.

    1. I know what you mean about the quackery, Stephanie. Sure, some complementary therapies might seem weird, but I think we have to remember that everything is connected. You know, it never hurts to get a second opinion from someone who knows different things, especially when it comes to our pets. You might as well ask, you never know what you might discover.

  11. Thanks for this share Shirley 🙂 I am a small dog owner who follows more of a holistic approach to how I look after my little one. I take the holistic and homeopathic path for myself and have had positive results so that too is probably why I am so open and comfortable with going to a holistic vet. That being said he currently does not see just a holistic vet- we go there once in a while to get feedback/opinions etc. it is supplementary to vet visits. Say hi to Sparrow!

  12. Hi Shirley,

    Thanks for sharing the information on holistic vets. I own a cat who just turned 3 and he recently started having issues with sleeping. I have taken him to my vet and they keep suggesting putting him on medication. I have never had him on any medication so I did not want to take this route right away. I am from the Chicago area I will have to do some research on local holistic vets. Thanks for sharing this information.


    1. Hi Joe, 

      Issues with sleeping? What do you mean? Sleeping is second nature to cats!

      I think it’s a good idea to seek out a vet who knows something about complementary therapies, especially if you’re not keen on giving meds to your cat. Just bear in mind though, even though you might not want to give him medication, you might have to if that’s what’s going to help him. Do your research and you should be fine and come back here if you have any more questions, I might be able to help. Good luck!

  13. Hi Shirley,

    I have never heard of holistic vets. I’m amazed to learn and discover that this vet uses alternative therapies as well as conventional treatments on pets. What I find interesting is that they look at the whole animal and their environment to treat pets which I have never heard of before instead of just looking at the system to treat.

    After watching the video I was impressed by the methods Dr. Fong uses to treat pets. I’m bookmarking this site to come back to review it again.

    Thank you for sharing this post.

    1. Hi Rosa, 

      it makes sense, don’t you think? I think focusing on everything in a preventative way is much better than waiting for something bad to happen and trying to cure it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  14. Interesting post, thanks for writing it.
    I do prefer a western medicine vet, as I prefer a western medicine doctor for myself. The reason is because, for a whole of 5 years I studied all kinds of alternative medicines and even practiced some, and although, truth be told, I do beleive alternative medicines doctors have the best intentions, I actually know that they don’t always know what they’re doing. I’ve been told I’m a medium and see and talk to ghosts due to my mental illness, I’ve been told to exercise on my hurt muscle because the energy of it was good, I’ve been told that a pet to which I was human needed to be free instead of locked indoors (which led him to run away, and beg for people to take him home), etc.
    Nowadays, western medicine vets are much more holistic, at least in my country. Just this week, as my kitty was diagnosed with asthma, both vets I talked to were extremelly interested in talking to me about changes in diet, environment and habits, even of the human residents of the house.
    Honestly, I do beleive if your beliefs lead you to have faith in these things, by all means try it and you might get results, but don’t expect miracles. What works is done by both western medicine and alternative medicine alike.

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