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Question
Recently, my family and I adopted a female cat from a friend of my brother. We came to find out it was because she was having trouble with her litter box. Right after my brother brought her home with him, she began to have stress diarrhea. She's been to the vet several times, and she has nothing physically wrong with her. She suffered from diarrhea for about two months because we didn't know about the bland diet and withholding food for 12-24 hours until shortly after my brother brought her to us. I started feeding her pumpkin and ground turkey, which got rid of the diarrhea, and I just recently switched her over to Iams for sensitive stomachs and I'm still giving her pumpkin, and she's doing great. She loves attention and can't get enough of it, but she still won't use the box. I've tried keeping her in the bathroom and cleaning up after her, but it isn't working. She had been using the litter box at my brother's place until she began to explore more of the house (he has two cats). After that, she pretty much just went outside of it. He tried different types of litter and styles of boxes, but nothing enticed her. I noticed after she came to live with us that she seems to be holding everything in until she can't possibly anymore, so she really isn't just going outside of the box because she doesn't like it or doesn't know it's where she should be going. She seems afraid to go, and I'm not sure if it's because she had diarrhea for so long and thinks it's going to hurt, or if she had been punished by her previous owner. I've tried putting her in the box after she eats or after she wakes up, but she just runs away once I put her in, so I stopped. She's only gone in it 3 times and we've had her for almost a month. And whenever she pees outside it, she just sits in her pee. Also, any time she goes, weather in or out of the box, she huddles herself up in a corner. Is there anything I can do to help her see that I'm not going to hurt her or yell at her if she goes? Or a way to get her to use the box on purpose instead of just holding it?

Answer
Bless you, Elizabeth and family, for adopting a problem cat. She has so many issues: 1. scared of the litter box; 2. holding her urine and stool; 3. had diarrhea, so even though food controlling it she still has that vibrational imbalance; 4. friend then brother now you - so lots of changes; 5. huddling up after going (there could be some bladder or bowel pain; 6. being excessively friendly.

Because of all the issues, I do not think the usual litter box suggestions (put down paper over plastic near the box, use a very low box, try just a towel in the box, use a very very bix box, try 8 different types of litter, etc) will work for you and that for her sake I would try a few of the following:

1. Consult several animal intuitives/communicators (if you are open to that) www.animaltalk.net has an extensive referral list.
2. Begin some general behavioral/energy work you can learn yourself - the healing code, EFT, Reiki, flower essences (with muscle testing to see what is best), acupressure.
3. Most importantly, find an integrative veterinarian with whom to work. 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. You can go to the web sites for each type of holistic practice and use their referral list to find one near to you. Many practitioners are members of only one or two of the organizations, so you do need to go to every site to find who is near you:
1. Wide range of treatments: www.AHVMA.org, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association and www.civtedu.org.   
2. Homeopathic veterinarians (these can often help you by phone if no other holistic practitioners are nearby that you like): www.theAVH.org and www.DrPitcairn.com.
3. Chiropractic and Osteopathic - www.animalchiropractic.org; http://equineosteopathy.org/ (they treat dogs, too)
4. TCVM (Acupuncture and Chinese medicine): www.IVAS.org, www.aava.org & www.TCVM.com
5. Herbal - www.VBMA.org
6. Postural rehabilitation – dogs and horses - http://www.posturalrehabvets.com/Postural_Rehabilitation/Find_a_Practitioner.htm
(a handful are in Europe)

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

SELECTING AND WORKING WITH AN INTEGRATIVE VETERINARIAN

Just because they say they are holistic, or are listed in one of the above sites, they may be very conventional in their approach. 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.

Good luck.  

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Dr. Christina Chambreau

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

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

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Certified Veterinary Homeopath (CVH)

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