Vernon the most unusual cat…

McTimoney animal chiropractic care is often seen as a treatment for horses and dogs, however it can be an effective treatment for other animals including cats. Chiropractic care can be used to support young, aging and cats with underlying health conditions to improve their quality of life by gently addressing the musculoskeletal compensations they carry as a result of their conditions. McTimoney chiropractic treatment is a gentle non-invasive technique that relies on the speed of movement to bring about soft tissue and neural changes around a joint. This improves range of movement which in turn reduces stiffness and pain allowing the cat to move more freely and efficiently. It also helps support the neuro-musculoskeletal system by identifying areas of compensation with underlying health conditions such as diabetes. McTimoney chiropractic treatment cannot cure these conditions but can help support the cats’ body allowing more comfort and an improved quality of life.

One particular case where McTimoney treatment helped a cat with a lifelong health condition is Vernon, a neutered, 15-year-old Burmese cat. Vernon had been diagnosed as a kitten with pancreatitis and a portosystemic shunt (liver shunt). As a result, Vernon is on a low protein and fat diet along with antibiotics and other liver supporting medication. As a result of the portosystemic shunt Vernon suffers from hepatic encephalopathy (HE) which manifests as an altered gait, ataxia (uncoordinated movement), twitching, unusual behaviour such as excessive mewing, stunted growth, absent menace response, self-mutilation, seizures, and high muscle tone (spasicity), which can lead to difficulty urinating. Vernon’s symptoms often wax and wane and he also falls off surfaces frequently. As a result, it was hoped that McTimoney animal chiropractic treatment alongside veterinary care might help support his body as he grows older with his lifelong health conditions. Vernon was treated by Pollyanna FitzGerald McTimoney Animal Chiropractor and in fact, Vernon’s owner.

The initial treatment was kept light and minimal. This was done due to his age and underlying hepatic encephalopathy. Pollyanna explains, “While this isn’t a contraindication to treatment, we were unsure of the impact McTimoney may have on HE. Vernon’s condition has been diagnosed by a veterinarian and is under constant review so going lighter was a precaution to not overload his already stressed neuro muscular system. The focus of the first treatment was on the atlas and neck which were the more prominent areas of dysfunction for Vernon including asymmetry in the neck vertebrae and tight neck muscles. McTimoney Animal Chiropractors start with gentle adjustments at the atlas as this can affect alignment of other vertebrae further down the spine and in the pelvis, potentially reducing the number of adjustments needed. Vernon was very happy to be treated and showed reduced muscle tension through the neck and improvement in his pelvic alignment even though this area was not directly addressed.”

Vernon’s second treatment was followed up in just over 2 weeks. This was to allow Vernon time to adapt and to also tackle his chronic neuro muscular compensations. Vernon had reacted well to the first treatment so more adjustments were administered. Since the first treatment Vernon seemed steadier on his hind limbs than previously, which was a good sign that the treatment was having a positive effect. Treatments were then given in monthly intervals to help support his body. Vernon showed much more steadiness overall when walking and appeared more comfortable allowing him to have an improved quality of life. Pollyanna states, “Vernon is a very special case as most cats diagnosed with a portosystemic shunt die as kittens. Through lifestyle management such as diet Vernon has been able to live a long and happy life with me but the addition of McTimoney chiropractic treatment as part of his management has allowed his compromised neuro muscular system to be supported and Vernon to be more comfortable in older life.”

Pollyanna recently qualified as a McTimoney Animal Chiropractor with the McTimoney College of Chiropractic and Vernon was one of her first patients. “I was so excited to see what effect the treatment could have for Vernon as he is dearly loved, and I am so happy that I can help extend his quality of life as he gets older. I have throughly enjoyed the MSc course run by the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, while it is quite intense at times it has taught me so much that I can now use to treat animals for effectively and efficiently. The McTimoney community also offered continued support allowing all practitioners to carry on growing and developing in a constructive way.”

Pollyanna Fitzgerald is based in Oxfordshire and can be contacted through