Cat's owner gives acupuncture a shot
By VALERIE Q. CARINO
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 27, 1998
UTZ -- She looked like she could hardly feel a thing.
Even with pins sticking out from six places on her back, and one, smack on top her furry head.
No, the centuries-old Chinese treatment, known for turning humans into pin cushions, hardly fazed Samantha the cat. She just sat there -- for 15 whole minutes -- not moving.
Her owner, Marie Mann, was willing to try anything to help her 15-year-old cat, even acupuncture.
"It's amazing what you'll do," said Mann, who drove from her Temple Terrace home to see veterinarian Dr. Anne Lampru, a pet acupuncturist.
There, in an examination room at the Animal Alternatives on N Florida Avenue, Mann was hoping Lampru's treatment would ease Samantha's pain. Since May, the black cat has not been able to urinate by herself. So for four times a day everyday, Mann has had to hold her over a sink, squeezing her bladder gently to let the fluid out.
Mann had heard about Lampru from another veterinarian in Largo and figured, why not? "We tried cortisone and some other stuff, but it didn't work," she said.
The acupuncture may not work either. But Lampru made that fact clear from their first consultation. And while the doctor has cured numerous dogs and cats of their muscular ailments for 17 years, she does not make promises. A believer in holistic therapy, she tells clients that healing takes time.
She understands that pets, just like humans, are prone to disease if not cared for, and the right remedy isn't always apparent from the first visit. Pets are affected when their owners are under stress.
"Pets want to help us," she said. "They're very empathetic."
Lampru, who received her acupuncture training from the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, uses human acupuncture needles on pets. With her hands, she scans the electromagnetic field generated by energy pathways produced in the pet's body, to find the points that need treatment.
Sometimes she uses aquapuncture, where she inserts a liquid into the points through small gauge needles; other times it's electrical acupuncture, where she attaches an electrode to the needles to stimulate those points with mild electrical impulses. And sometimes she tries light acupuncture, where she flashes an infrared light on each point for a few seconds.
Lampru used to perform human acupuncture. She also spent 16 years working at the former Tampa Bay Animal Medical Center. When she was first exposed to the treatment at the first meeting of the Holistic Veterinary Medical Association in Austin, Texas, in 1984, she was skeptical, and she still acknowledges that not every treatment is appropriate for every person or pet.
For those not sold on acupuncture, Lampru also practices homeopathy, which is based on the theory that with the right doses of medicine and the proper diet, the body can heal itself. Lampru's cabinets are stocked with Chinese herbs to treat everything from viruses to skin infections.
Halfway through Samantha's treatment, Lampru takes off her glasses and then turns off the lights before leaving the room. The only source of light emanates from an X-ray machine, which produces an eerie glow on the 7-pound cat that has just gone through its fourth time under the needles. The cat has been through worse predicaments. Twice she was run over in traffic.
Samantha will have four more treatments here.
"My husband has a hard time understanding this," Mann said. "He thinks it's voodoo. I don't understand it either, but I'm willing to try."