What Holistic Care Means for Cats by Layla Morgan Wilde
Holistic is a term cropping up more frequently in the pet world but it’s been a every day part of my philosophy for the past thirty years. There are holistic vets, holistic pet nutritionists, holistic cat food and supplements and what I practice: holistic cat behavior consulting. Holistic is often described as taking a whole situation into perspective to maintain, enhance or restore balance. But to me it’s so much more. It’s about the integration of body, mind and spirit or soul for a complete or whole picture.
A holistic pet care approach means creating a safe, healthy environment. Plus providing healthy diet and supplements, exercise and interactive play, love and affection, regular grooming and wellness vet visits. Holistic means caring enough to learn what makes your cat tick by education, reading books, taking classes and by studying their behavior and body language while learning to communicate with them in their language, which means intuitively.
Holistic principles are universal and apply to humans and animals. We know what body and mind is but what about soul or spirit? “The word ‘animal’ comes from the Latin root word for ‘soul.’ To our ancestors, soul was the mysterious force that gave life and breath to all living beings on this planet. Everything contained “soul” until theologians restricted the existence of soul to only human beings. Our soul or spirit is the portal through which we become conscious of the essence – core of love that dwells within all souls.
Over time, we lost sight of the body/mind/spirit connection and the fast paced world of technology further fragments our disconnection. Cats when allowed to be cats are naturally attuned and connected to nature and natural cycles.
When we think of cats it’s easy to compartmentalize them. They may have a physical symptom requiring a vet. They may have an emotional issue like anxiety requiring a change in their diet. They may exhibit an odd behavior that peg them as a cat from hell, but nothing and no problem exists in a vacuum or separately. Everything is inter-connected and causal.
With a holistic approach in medicine, treatment might include regular meds like antibiotics for an abscess from a wound but might also include complementary treatments from acupuncture, homeopathy to energy healing like Reiki to help facilitate or speed up healing.
It might be easy to say: a cat got into a fight, sustaining a wound and that’s it. The wound went undetected because the pet guardian was so busy at work they didn’t notice the wound. The untreated wound gets infected and forms a painful abscess. The previous overlooked symptoms worsen. Finally, if the cat is lucky, he gets taken to the vet. When the cat comes home, further treatment i.e. dispensing of meds continues which can be opportunities for bonding or escalate into added stress with a cat who doesn’t like being pilled.
What easily gets overlooked is the original cause. Why did the cat get into a fight? Was he neutered? Having territorial issues with a neighborhood cat? Redirected aggression of their sister cat? Was the cat picking up on the stress of the roommate losing their job? Unraveling cat behavior clues is like being a detective. By stringing all the clues together the mystery is solved.
Instead of separate events, I see everything as inter-related. Our cats are a mirrors of what is going on in our emotional and energy fields on a day-to-day basis. They absorb, reflect and deflect energy in their environment. While most of us leave our homes to go the work, visit friends and visit public places, most cat do not. They’re forced to stay in one (often non-enriched and boring) environment separate from nature. Imagine how stifling that would be!
Add a busy schedule (yours not theirs) without much time except to feed and clean the litter (maybe), clean the water bowl (maybe), play interactive games? Who has time? And then we wonder why kitty is peeing on the rug or develops an itchy rash. Emotional needs that aren’t met can manifest into physical symptoms or behavior. The physical behavior often has an emotional component.
The central thread to linking body/mind/spirit is intuition. It niggles with a hunch when something doesn’t feel right. It’s what makes us part the fur while petting to the spot when the hidden wound is. Intuition however is not a passport to airy fairyland. Oh, the wound is because my cat is angry with me but I’ll meditate and wave some crystals and it’ll be just fine. Maybe it will be but chances are that abscess will need antibiotics from a vet. Intuition is simply another tool. It can guide you to just the right vet, other professional, book or product.
Having a holistic approach with cats has happy side effects for humans. By being more aware and mindful about our cats’ needs we tend to be more mindful of our own lives and those around us. With more awareness comes more meaningful coincidences, healthier choices and happier consequences.