What is cat laser therapy, and how is it used?
Laser therapy is used in both cats and dogs. It is a low-level light, as opposed to a high-intensity light that causes heat. A laser is a very low-intensity light. It emits lower wavelengths, so you don't feel anything. What it does is stimulate blood flow to injured tissues. It also helps with wound healing, and it causes those damaged cells to turn over and repair themselves a lot faster.
Dr. Gretchen Wright
Highland Park Animal Hospital
How is laser therapy able to improve the health and wellbeing of my cat?
Cold laser therapy will help with any chronic inflammation. In cats, we typically think of arthritis as the main reason we'd use it. New wounds caused by trauma and broken bones are also conditions that we'd treat with the cold laser.
Why is it important to avoid self-diagnosing whether my cat is experiencing pain?
Many times, our cats are in pain, and we don't realize it. We think it's normal for cats to sleep 24 hours a day, but that's not necessarily the case. Often, they are sedentary because they're uncomfortable, and we don't want to ignore that. Cats are great at hiding their illnesses, so anytime we think a cat is just hiding away or sleeping a lot, that's a good time to bring it in and see if your cat is uncomfortable.
What symptoms or conditions in my cat may be treatable with laser therapy?
Arthritis is the most common condition for which we use it. It stimulates blood flow, and blood brings in all those good healing factors that they need. Chronic wounds, skin wounds, and even just allergies can benefit from laser therapy. When we think of the outdoor cat with bite wound abscesses, those are all good conditions for laser therapy.
How long will it take for my cat to begin experiencing relief from their symptoms?
Some cats experience relief right away. Because it's a cold laser that doesn't get hot, and there's no buzzing sound to scare them. Most of the time, they just lay there, and it takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Sometimes I think it feels so good that they immediately fall asleep. In some cats, you should notice a difference within a day or two if your cat is experiencing relief from the laser.
Is laser therapy capable of curing my cat?
Laser therapy alone probably will not cure your cat. We use it as part of our multimodal therapy. There isn't a great option for arthritis pain medication. It's difficult to give a cat a pill every single day for arthritis, so we use laser therapy in conjunction with other things. It will help with wound care by dramatically shrinking that wound quickly. Alone, it's probably not going to cure your cat, but it definitely helps.
How many treatments might my cat require if laser therapy is recommended?
It depends on the condition. Usually, with arthritis, we start with a couple of times a week, two to three times a week, depending on how easy it is to bring in your cat. Once we start seeing some relief, we start to back down to once a week to once a month. For wound care, we do it almost every other day until that wound is healed.
Could my cat experience any side effects from laser therapy?
That's the great thing: there are no systemic side effects. Again, it doesn't even scare them, and it doesn't hurt because there's no heat. They generally don't feel anything except for some relief.
How would my veterinarian decide upon laser therapy as a treatment option for a cat?
It depends on why your cat is uncomfortable. If you bring your cat in for a wellness exam and we notice some discomfort with their joints, we can talk to you about multimodal therapy for your cat's arthritis.
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