Veterinary Ayurveda: case histories of five cats

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by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)

In this paper, we present case histories of a family of five geriatric cats, four litter mates, the fifth a male foundling. We will discuss the cats' symptoms, Ayurvedic diagnosis, treatment protocols and responses with a view to demonstrating the immense potential benefits that Ayurvedic approaches have for the welfare of companion animals.

The cats in question all receive a mono-diet of Avoderm, a high quality dry cat food. They also receive an afternoon snack of organic baby food, as well as some fresh vegetables. All these elderly cats, with their long history of mono-diet, are in the vyakti and bheda stages of the kriya kala process. Neither the cats, the pet-guardian nor the veterinarian were receptive to the suggestion of changing or varying the cats' diet in any way. At this stage, since the cats have advanced kidney disease, their vet prefers dry cat food as lower in protein and hence easier on the kidneys. Ayurvedic treatment has thus proceeded ahead as best could be in the face of a continued mono-diet of a high carbohydrate food rich in corn, a major allergen and pitta­-provoking substance. The causative factor of many of the cats' severe health challenges--a carbohydrate rich mono-diet of rough, dry food--continued unabated.

It is worth noting here that a cat's natural life expectancy is about twenty-five years. The emergence of a geriatric condition in sixteen-year-old cats, although very familiar to all of us, would be rendered unnecessary were the cats fed in an optimal way throughout the duration of their lives. Cats would likely become geriatric sometime in their twenties.

Diagnosis of the cats took place by the usual method of darshanam, sparshanam and prashanam. Darshanam includes examination of fur health, weight, muscle bulk, eyes and tongue. (Cats yawn freely frequently, thus providing good access to examine their tongues). Sparshanam included examination of the pulse just above the cat's front paw. The method of pulse diagnosis used was that outlined in Secrets of the Pulse by Dr. Vasant Lad. Prashanam took place by questioning the owner and by attuning psychically to the cats.


Helpful
A sixteen-year-old male cat, Helpful was brought to me for help with his diabetes. The task requested of me was to focus on reducing his insulin usage, leaving the vet to manage his overall condition.

Pulse diagnosis: Prakruti: V1P3K3 Vikruti: V2P4K4

Udana and samana vayu, ranjak pitta and sleshak kapha showed impaired function. There was excess raw ojas, indicating a blood lipid imbalance. The liver and colon pulses were weak with pitta, the bladder weak with vata and pitta, and the kidneys weak with vata.

Helpful had a long history of giardiasis. In 1999 he suffered a seizure as a result of metronidazole administered for the giardiasis. He had osteoarthritis and was unable to jump. He also had renal disease and chronic cystitis. His fur was dry, lusterless and ragged. Helpful was given triphala guggulu, one 0-capsule daily and the following formula:

shardunika 3
haridra 4
neem 1
bibhitaki 2
shankapushpi 4
punarnava 5
vidanga 1
one 0-capsule thrice daily

Because I felt that it would be impossible to control his blood sugar as long as he had active giardiasis, I also gave him a krumigna formula with vidanga and pomegranate skin. The same formula was given to all five cats to prevent Helpful being reinfected by his companions.

Within a month, Helpful was able to jump and climb again. His ragged fur molted away and he developed a luxuriunt, shining coat. His temper improved and his insulin usage gradually decreased from 2 units twice daily to 0.5 units twice daily.

Sadly, Helpful developed an incurable cancer, resulting in his being euthanized. Despite the added physiological stress, his blood sugar remained excellent to the end. We supplied his guardian with Ganges water and holy ash, which were administered to ease his transition and promote a good rebirth, according to the ancient traditions of sannatan dharma.

 

Grey
Grey is the male foundling, aged about 12-13 years. He had scar tissue on his vocal cords and could barely mew. His guardian's main concern was his aggression with the other cats.

Pulse diagnosis: Prakruti: V3P3K1 and Vikruti: V4P3.5K1

He also had pitta in the thyroid gland, an early-warning signal of throxoscicosis, which frequently affects cats. I immediately requested that he be taken off thyroid supplementation, which he was receiving. Chikitsa:

yesti madhu 2
shatavari 5
ashwaghandha 5
dashamoola 5
shankapushpi 4
sarasvati 2
one 0-capsule thrice daily

brahmi
one 0-capsule 2x daily

Within a couple of weeks on this program, Grey became less aggressive, although the difficulty of unrelated male cats cohabiting can never be completely helped by herbal remedies. He gained muscle weight and his fur thickened. As a result of the krumigna formula given to all the cats, Grey and all his companions became giardia free for the first time in ten years. After six months of treatment, Grey suddenly began mewing loudly and sweetly. This was especially noticeable to his guardian, who is hearing-impaired. Previously, Grey's mews were not audible to her; now they are loud and clear.


Butterscotch
Another geriatric cat, Butterscotch had glomerulonephritis with renal enlargement.

Pulse Reading: prakruti: V3P3K1 and vikruti: V4P4K1. He was also diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, although the pulse revealed vata in the thyroid indicating irregular thyroid activity. Because of this finding, we advised that the Tapezol be discontinued and he be given kaishore guggulu one 0-capsule daily. (a 0-capsule is between 1/16 and 1/8 tsp, an ideal dose for a cat). He was also given:

punarnava guggulu 5
bala 5
gokshura 5
yesti madhu 2
one 0-capsule thrice daily

Butterscotch had been needing twice daily fluids for dehydration for the previous six weeks. After three days on his formula, he no longer needed fluids. From a semi-moribund state, he gained muscle weight, resumed walking, and became less stressed. He became responsive to his guardian and the other cats, and began acting normally, no longer manifesting as an invalid or terminally ill cat. His fur became thicker and stronger.

 

Liquorice
A littermate of Butterscotch, Liquorice was complaining of arthritis, cystitis, and giardiasis. Like Butterscotch, he had vata in the thyroid pulse. His prakruti was V2P3K1 and vikruti: V2.5P3K1. He was given:

kaishore guggulu 2
guduchi 5
shankapushpi 2
mutral 2
one 0-capsule thrice daily

As a result, his arthritis gradually improved. After six months on the herbs, he regained his ability to jump up and down. His cystitis symptoms also abated. Two months later, he had major dental work. As a result of a broken tooth, he then developed toxaemia and was given Baytril injections. He became pitta-provoked from the antibiotics and was given a new formula:

kaishore guggulu 2
punarnava 3
gulvel sattva 1
yesti madhu 2
shankha bhasma 1
one 0-capsule thrice daily

This formula helped to control his pitta through he still tended to develop diarrhea if he went off the herbs.


Muffin
A geriatric female cat, Muffin was complaining of ulcerative colitis with chronic diarrhea, cystitis and low weight. Her prakruti was V3P2K1 and vikruti: V4P3K1
She had vata in the thyroid pulse. She was given:

arjun 4
kaishore guggulu 2
bala 5
shanka bhasma 1
gulvel sattva 2
yesti madhu 1
one 0-capsule thrice daily

bhumyamlaki
one 0-capsule once daily

For the previous month, Muffin had needed nightly supplemental fluids. After two weeks on the formula, she no longer needed fluids. Her diarrhea continued for about three weeks more after which she began to have formed stools. She gained weight and her fur became thicker and softer. She later developed an eye infection which was effectively treated with one 0- capsule of turmeric twice daily.

Pet Guardian Comments
The cats' guardian remarked that her animals had been treated with allopathy, homeopathy, Chinese herbs, reiki, Feldenkreis, chiropractic and jin shin. In the face of all these multiple therapies, Ayurveda was the vital missing link in providing an enhanced quality of life for the cats and their guardian. In particular, Ayurvedic herbs ended a ten-year battle with giardiasis and provided a welcome relief from cystitis. The cats were able to drop their homeopathics and cranberry extract at a significant financial savings. The successful discontinuation of Butterscotch's Tapezol was also an important financial savings.

Benefits of Veterinary Ayurveda
Veterinary Ayurveda provides a benefit for the animal, the pet guardian and for Ayurveda. For the animal, Ayurveda provides greater longevity and well being, a preventative approach and a deep respect for the innate self-healing power of animals. For the pet-guardian, Ayurveda provides a healthier, happier companion animal and a safer home environment, free from the hazards of cross-species communicable diseases such as giardiasis. Ayurvedic approaches are also less expensive than either allopathy or supplements, a benefit for the pet guardian's finances.

For Ayurveda, the small-animal veterinary angle offers a significant research benefit, since cats and dogs are shorter lived than humans and so provide opportunity to observe the lifelong benefits of Ayurveda within a shorter time frame. Cats and dogs respond swiftly to herbs and diet adjustments, well-portraying the value of Ayurveda. Developing veterinary Ayurveda also affords an additional avenue for the mainstreaming of Ayurveda within the healthcare delivery system.

The Future of Veterinary Ayurveda
Since animal healthcare is the scope of practice of veterinarians, the future of this dimension of Ayurvedic healing depends upon encouraging vets to study and practice Ayurveda, just as they have enthusiastically embraced homeopathy, naturopathy and Chinese medicine. Vets should receive a full practitioner training with emphasis on pulse diagnosis, in-depth understanding of samprapti and a thorough knowledge of herbal formulation. Only if Ayurvedic vets are thoroughly trained will the full benefits and potential of veterinary Ayurveda become apparent.

The author would like to thank pet guardian Kathleen Geary and the friendly staff of Colorado Canines and Felines.

Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma) is director of Alandi Ayurvedic Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and principal teacher of Alandi School of Ayurveda, a traditional ayurvedic school and apprenticeship program. She can be reached at 303-786-7437 or by email at: info@alandiashram.org.

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This page contains a single entry by alyse michelle published on February 11, 2012 8:13 PM.

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