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Ask the Veterinarian/How do I get my starved cat to put on weight?


How do I get my starved cat to put on weight?

My mums elderly cat went into a cattery when she was in hospital, and he came out emaciated, that was months ago, he is still bony, scraggy, depressed and aggressively hungry, (he used to be an outside cat if that helps--but has been inside since he broke his leg a long time ago) what actions might we take to get him healthy again?

So glad you asked a holistic veterinarian. There are a number of great ones in the UK - not sure about London. they can help decide if it is hyperthyroid (which often causes emaciation with big appetite) and give many treatment options rather than surgery, drugs or radiation.

When I only had my conventional veterinary training, I would often be very frustrated by problems in elderly cats as the best I could do was inject valium to get them to eat for a few days - not good in the long term. The holistic philosophy has taught me that there is an underlying vibrational imbalance that causes most problems and the healing goal is to resolve that imbalance with treatments selected for that individual animal. To better understand this perspective, read the first few chapters of Don Hamilton's Homeopathic Care of Cats and Dogs or the few pages in my book, the Healthy Animal's Journal. Now that the multitude of holistic modalities is available, I can tell you to never give up. Try one after the other, and record the changes with each.

1. Even before you are trained in Reiki, you can ask for this energy healing that cannot hurt and may help (See REIKI, below, for web sites to request healing). There are lots doing this in the UK and even the US people can do it long distance. Learn it yourself, or get your mom to become attuned and her health will improve as well. If you are attuned, you (or she) can do FReiki on the food which could help the nutrients be absorbed.
2. A super probiotic can improve nutrient absorption, so helps with weight.
3. Rescue remedy and other Bach flowers from from the health food store can help. Bach was from Wales, so there are many professionally trained animal Bach flower therapists in London. Put one drop in a separate water bowl.  Put 4 drops in an ounce of water in a jar and give a few drops in every meal and every few hours in between. You cannot use it too often. It is totally safe. It is great for people too - for anxiety, stress, shock, grief and more.
4. Most importantly, change to a raw meaty bone diet as this gives the very best nutrition. See #2 below and order some books on it. Englishwoman Juliette de Baircle Levy talks of a raw diet in her book. Search the web to find local people to help you with feeding fresh food.

I strongly recommend finding an integrative veterinarian with whom to work. this cat definitely needs professional care to survive. This is a person trained in many different approaches, including using conventional drugs only when absolutely needed. Working with one can increase the chance that your cherished companion can live a long and healthy life after recovering from this current problem. There are good ones and great ones, and a few homeopathic veterinarians will consult by phone or email. Read my comments at the end on working with and selecting a holistic veterinarian.
You can go to the web sites for each type of holistic practice and use their referral list to find one near to you:
1. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine: ;, &
2. Homeopathic veterinarians (these can often help you by phone if no other holistic practitioners are nearby that you like): (there are excellent vets who will help you find ones closer to you - sue Armstrong, Peter Gregory, John Saxton, Chris Day. and
3. Chiropractor -
4. Wide range of other treatments:, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and   

There are also lots of practitioners and approaches that are used by trained people that you can find by searching the Internet.

If you are interested in better health in general, please read on.
1. Know the current level of health. Most health problems are the result of an underlying energy imbalance.  As we cure animals of "disease", we find that other things we thought were normal go away, so we can use these clues to know that animals are not healthy yet.  Your goal is for your animal to have great energy, no doggy odor, no hairball vomiting, little shedding, a glowing coat and many more. Below is a complete list of these signs (Early Warning Signs of Illness). In young animals, these apparently "normal" problems may be the only indications to start exploring new options for lifestyle or treatment.  Buy the Healthy Animal's Journal ( so you can see how these early warning symptoms and obvious ill symptoms change over time.  

2. Feed the best. What are the best diets for people or animals -- the most processed or the freshest, most organic?  A basic study has started to see the health effects of processed, cooked and raw diets – please add your dog’s information to this study - The best ingredients should be the most consciously raised - local, organic vegetables, free ranging protein sources. Dogs and cats have ripping and tearing teeth, bone crunching teeth, no digestive juices in the mouth, jaws that do not chew, a stomach full of acid where the food sits for 4-12 hours and a very short transit time in the intestines. Dogs and cats do not pull out a knife to de-bone their prey and do not pull out matches to light a fire to cook their meat and vegetables. Therefore the best diet for dogs and cats is raw meat including raw bones, pureed raw and cooked vegetables and a few supplements (Calcium if no bones are eaten is critical). Grains are not good for most animals, but if there are none of the early warning signs (see below) and no illnesses, you can feed some grains, preferably the higher protein ones. Start as young kittens and puppies or at whatever age you read this (, a cat sanctuary switches 16 years old and older cats to raw meat diet and some have lived to 27 and 30, and now one to 35). Second best is same quality, but cooked.  Even grocery store quality meat and vegetables are much better than most processed foods. Processed foods are an effort for the food industry to use up its waste products except for a few companies with great motives (and even they sometimes get bad or inferior ingredients). Processed foods are also a problem for the environment - they are not sustainable. Many dogs and cats need probiotics, especially if fed processed, dead foods. My current favorite is Mitomax. I have had many animals' minor health problems clear up while using this. Unlike other probiotics, it is very stable and is ok at the low stomach pH. Every animal needs and wants a different combination of foods and supplements at different times in their lives depending on different stressors and health challenges, just as we do. With any food, observe each of your animals for the effect that food has on them and change if decreased energy or poor coat or other Early Warning Signs. NEVER feed DRY food to cats - even as treats. It causes most cats to drink more water resulting in stress to the kidneys and also can trigger bladder problems in cats. You can now buy many commercial raw meat diets. You must research them as well. Ask where the ingredients are raised? Are chemicals used? Are the chickens, beef, pork, etc raised in humane ways, out in the sun to get the Vitamin D in the meat, etc?

3. Vaccinate the least. No more for this cat - forbid it. In my opinion, vaccines have caused more harm to animals than anything else we have done. Do you get measles and mumps vaccines every year of your life? Researchers in conventional veterinary medicine agree that we vaccinate too often, in too many combinations, and that this level of vaccination, while preventing epidemics, is harmful to the health of susceptible animals.  On-going studies show that antibodies are high 10 and 16 years later for dog and cat distemper and dog Parvo so I recommend just a few baby shots and NO more. While Rabies is also a viral disease, you must follow the law and vaccinate.
4. Use the fewest chemicals, remembering that there are chemicals in vaccines. Each animal is an individual and will respond differently to heartworm, flea and tick preventatives. Some are very sensitive to chemicals used in the yard or the house and in vaccines - they will become profoundly ill. Others will be triggered by these chemicals to just not have full health.  Chemicals in foods can cause allergic type reactions, so again feeding a fresh diet from local ingredients will be best. Healthy yards have lots of weeds. House cleaners can be made from foods and microfibril cloths clean like a charm. Healthy animals never get fleas and ticks

5. Understand how animals become ill and how they heal. First there is an energetic imbalance (they are just not right), then functional (the dog is itchy), then inflamed (skin is red, infected, swollen and hot) and finally tissue changes (thick, black skin). Results of any treatment can be no change, amelioration (current symptoms disappear with no other improvements, then return), suppression (current symptoms disappear and they become more ill) or a cure (everything about the animal to begins to improve, especially the overall energy level.)  
Keeping a journal is critical to determine what treatments are helping problems to become less frequent and less severe. You can stand firm with what you feel is working even if your professional disagrees and change approaches when needed. You can create your own using a three ring binder, a notebook, a calendar. Be sure to have a master symptom list, pages where you list treatments you have started or been given, and pages where you make daily or frequent entries about every symptom on the master symptom list, especially including the overall energy level, emotional state and new changes. Some people have found my book makes it easier. is a great one to use in print or e-version is available.  

6. Learn different healing approaches. There are so many different ways to stimulate healing that you never need to give up trying. Flower essences, essential oils, homeopathy, massage, Reiki and herbs are a few. Classes are found through your health food store, by phone or on-line. I teach many classes around the country and my web site lists classes taught by others as well.

7. Select the best healers for each animal's health team. Most people want a veterinarian (preferably integrative) and an energy healer. You decide what needs to be tried next for your animal. When you realize the animal is not improving – seek different care. Use conventional veterinarians for diagnosis and emergency treatment, or if other methods are not working. Again, integrative veterinarians (see above) will be able to do both, and have the philosophical understanding of the vibrational causes of illness.

I also strongly recommend getting some training in understanding the wide range of approaches to health so you can be in charge of what you choose for treatments for your animals. You can learn Reiki (which can take the "bad" out of vaccines and any needed drugs, or even make food healthier), massage, HTA, TTouch, acupressure, flower essence therapy, aromatherapy, all of which are 100% safe to use for any problems (see REIKI below). There are many more approaches you can do to help heal your animals with some training since they need to be used more carefully - homeopathy, herbal medicine, Chinese herbs. In addition to classes (see below), there are many very good list serves filled with people experienced with not vaccinating and feeding raw meat diets. Go to and look for “Novaxk9s” and “Raw Paws”. As with human health approaches, there are many different opinions, so you need to experiment and see what makes your animals more or less healthy.

Personally, I think every person who lives with or works with animals must know at least Level I Reiki. The practitioner offers this energy and the animal comes over to get it (or places her hands upon the animal), or it can be done from a distance, even around the world with the intent for healing to occur. The energy flows through the healer into the animal. This is based on directly applying Chi (energy) to rebalance the energy field so it no longer needs to produce the physical symptoms. It is a very good adjunct to any healing modality, especially to relieve pain and inflammation. I have seen cats who began to eat again when their food was treated with Reiki. It also "takes the bad out of" things. By doing Reiki on smelly water in restaurants I have been able to drink sweet tasting and smelling water. Use Reiki anytime that you must give injections, vaccines, drugs, flea or heartworm drugs, or other substances with potential toxicity. Reiki is great to calm animals, relieve discomfort, and can deeply heal some problems in some animals.  

1. Great information on Reiki - Kathleen Prasad is a wonderful teacher and works with my favorite sanctuary and holistic education center, BrightHaven Kathleen leads a free monthly telechat for anyone trained in Reiki and using it with animals.
3. If you cannot find a Reiki Class near you (same class for people and animals as it connects you through an "attunement" to the healing energy of the universe, making you a channel of healing), the following groups offer long distance, free, attunements.

       c. offers free Reiki attunements, classes and training on-line         and animal classes, too
       d. Long distance healing and training is at  
       e. Christine at, To receive free distance Reiki send her your first name only, city and state, and whether or not you have had any Reiki training.  She invites you to include your pets as well.  She uses a teddy bear and does a full body Reiki distance treatment for one hour each Sunday evening from 9 p.m. until 10 p.m. EST.
4. has articles and Maryland holistic practitioners listed.
5.  .  is a great practitioner in Maryland who knows a lot about cats.
6. Get a free treatment for yourself at

Another wonderful healer, Deena Spears works long distance with Sound Tuning. I have seen many animals and the people in a home be healed by her work.

And a team of over 100 healers will send free healing energy until you say not to. Email Barbara at with your healing request, name of animal, species, color & age. In the subject say request through Dr. Chambreau

These are less important until she keeps on some weight, then you want to look at this part.

1. Is your companion really healthy?
2. Can you tell if the treatment you selected is deeply curing?
3. Can your companion be healthier than you realize?
YES - read on and evaluate your animal for true health.

Most health problems are the result of an underlying energy imbalance, made worse from poor diet and vaccination.  They are rarely acute diseases (except injuries). Therefore, you may find that the problem does not clear up as you expect or it recurs. If so, you are dealing with an underlying predisposition to illness, and these clues to underlying ill health will help you select a remedy and monitor the results.  As we cure animals of "disease", we find that certain other "NORMAL" things go away, too.  Do not be satisfied until most of the following symptoms are gone.  In young, apparently healthy animals, these apparently "normal" problems may be the only indications to start treatment. This is only the beginning of a list - as more animals are cured we will find new levels of health. Tracking these is easy when you use the Healthy Animal's Journal by Dr. Christina Chambreau (
SKIN: doggy smell; attracts fleas a lot; dry, oily, lack-luster coat;
excessive shedding; not grooming,    ear problems - waxy, oily, itchy, recurrent mites; eye discharge, tearing, or matter in corner of eyes; raised third eyelid; spots appearing on iris; "freckles" appearing on face; whiskers falling out; fragile, thickened, distorted claws that are painful or sensitive to trim.
BEHAVIOR: Fears(of loud noises, thunder, wind, people, animals, life); too timid; too rough or aggressive (even at play); too hard to train; barks too much and too long; suspicious nature; biting    when petted too long; hysteria when restrained; clumsy; indolent; licking or sucking things or people too much; not using litter box or not covering stool.
DIGESTIVE: Bad breath; tarter accumulation; loss of teeth; poor appetite; craving weird things(rubber    bands, plastic, dirt, cat litter, paper, dogs eating dog or cat stools, rocks, sticks...); sensitivity to milk;    thirst - a super healthy cat on non dry food will drink at most once a week; red gum line; vomiting often, even hairballs more than a few times a year; mucous on stools; tendency to diarrhea with least    change of diet; obesity;  anal gland problems; recurrent parasites.
STIFFNESS when getting up, early hip dysplasia; tires easily in hot or cold weather; can no longer jump up on counters, or go up or down steps.
TEMPERATURE: Low grade fevers - Normal for healthy cats and dogs is
AGE & REPRODUCTION: Should live a long life (Shepards 17 years, Danes 12, cats 24). should be able    conceive easily, deliver normally, and not pass on "genetic breed" problems.


Holistic medicine takes the perspective of treating the whole animal. Even if there is a current problem, for example diarrhea or itching, a good integrative veterinarian will ask questions about what problems there have been in the past, what changes in the household or the environment may have triggered the current complaint and if there is anything that makes the current complaints better or worse. They will also evaluate the overall energy level of the animal. Their goal is to make the animal healthier for life, not just to get rid of the current symptom. They will educate you and explain what they see when physically examining your animal.

Some of the modalities that integrative veterinarians may use in addition to conventional include acupuncture, herbs, flower essences, homeopathy, chiropractic, network chiropractic, nutrition, glandulars, Reiki, Tellington touch, healing touch, long distance healing modalities. Some of these have certification programs with a year or more of courses, exams and evaluation of clinical ability. Others are either self-taught or not regulated. Some individuals are wonderful with your animal -- others great at explaining to you what is happening with your animals. A few are good in both areas. Few veterinarians are perfect, and we all have bad days. Your animal should at least be comfortable with your choice and you should be able to get your questions and concerns addressed.

Once you have done the internet work suggested above, how do you select one to start with and then how do you know if you are getting good service and what can you do to help them help your animals?

Ask the veterinarian you are interested in:
1. Ask what modalities are used?
2. What is their training?
3. Is their goal overall health or to merely treat the current complaint? This may be the most important question.
4. What organizations they belong to & how recently have they gone to conferences or taught?  (Just because they belong to AHVMA, or AVH, does not mean they are trained or capable in those modalities.)
As she treats your animal, a good holistic veterinarian will usually:
1. Ask about the history, overall energy, what might have caused the current problem, the environment and what makes the symptoms better or worse.
2. Their physical exam will be gentle, complete and they will show you (you may need to ask) what they mean by “gingivitis, big lymph nodes, heart murmur”, etc.
3. They will be willing to answer your questions and explain why they are recommending a particular treatment.  
4. If they recommend conventional treatments (antibiotics, prednisone, etc.) they will explain to you why they choose this over holistic, and give you a chance to request the more holistic treatment.
5. They will not do anything (vaccinate, treat) without asking you first.
6. They will recommend fewer or no vaccinations and a raw meat or at least more holistic diet.
7. They will schedule follow up appointments until your animal is really healthy.
(See symptoms of chronic disease)
What you can do to help your holistic veterinarian
1. Keep a dated journal of any problems, even little ones.
2. Write down any treatments given.
3. Call if symptoms worsen, or they are less energetic and less happy, or you have concerns.

Many people feel that they would rather give a lot of chemical preventatives for worms and viruses and food from a bag as it seems easier and some dogs do seem to thrive on this approach - like some people who smoke and drink and live a long healthy life. In 30 years of integrative practice, though, I see many people frustrated with cancer, diabetes, cushings, severe allergies and more. Many of them, when switching to the above approaches, find both improved health and even satisfaction that they are treating their dog as a member of the family. They feed from the same sources they get their ingredients. They vaccinate no more than they get. If they do not take worm preventatives all the time, they do not give it to their animals. If the label says "do not touch without gloves" they would not think of putting it on their pet's skin.

Truly it is your choice and there is no right or correct answer, just the one that makes more sense to you.  

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Dr. Christina Chambreau


I can give you the holistic approach to any problem, mostly for dogs and cats and some farm animals and horses. Depending on the condition and the type of animal, I will be able to give very specific treatment suggestions such as what flower essences, homeopathic remedies, nutritional supplements, diet changes, lifestyle changes or herbs that may be helpful - not drugs. I can also suggest where you can go for further education or to find a specialist in a specific holistic field. I can help you understand why your animal is ill and what improvements can be expected. I do not check messages more than every one to two days, so PLEASE DO NOT ask about EMERGENCIES - call your local veterinarian. I cannot diagnose your animal. I cannot prescribe specific treatments. I am no longer very current with conventional treatments, so cannot answer questions on those. I am not an expert on birds or small critters. I am not an expert in breeding, birthing or babies.


I graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and began using homeopathy in my practice after a client introduced me to it. By 1988 I was using exclusively holistic treatments. I began lecturing in 1987 and have spoken at veterinary conferences, health food stores, people's homes, churches, veterinary college conferences - anywhere people want to learn more about keeping their animals healthy.

Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (I helped found this one) American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association National Center for Homeopathy American Veterinary Medical Association

I have written in many magazines, journals and newspapers. A few include Bark Magazine; Journal of the AHVMA; Baltimore Dog Magazine; Whole Dog Journal; Tiger Tribe; Wolf Clan. I have also been frequently interviewed on radio and TV. I am Associate Editor for the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal, so often have articles there.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Certified Veterinary Homeopath (CVH)

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