Kirbi the cat gets relief with regular acupuncture treatments at LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital

A cat at the veterinary hospital with acupuncture needles in her back

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2020

By Sandy Sarr, Communications Coordinator

BATON ROUGE, LA--If cats who survive adversity are perceived as having “nine lives,” then Kirbi has lived at least “three lives,” so far, overcoming homelessness, neglect, and physical challenges.

When Kirbi’s owners moved and left her behind to fend for herself, the cat lived under a neighbor’s house. She’d go back to her old house every day waiting to be let inside where she once lived. The neighbor noticed and asked her sister if she would like to adopt the homeless cat. That was nine years ago.

“She was about 2 years old when we brought her home. We had no idea what her name was, and so we named her Kirbi,” said Joycelyn Bueche, who lives in Plaquemine, La., and manages the Iberville Parish Schools Performing Arts Center.

Jocelyn had two dogs, and she wasn’t sure she wanted a cat, especially a long-haired cat that would shed. The cat was in heat when Joycelyn got her. Joycelyn took her to a veterinarian for an examination, treatment, and preventatives, and had her spayed.

Kirby, now 11, enjoys sunning herself on the family deck.

“She’s been the best cat. She never ventures anywhere,” Joycelyn said of Kirbi, who is apparently content at home and not curious about racking up all nine of cats’ fabled lives.

One day, in early 2018, Joycelyn’s oldest grandson and his girlfriend noticed that Kirbi was limping. After visits to her regular veterinarian, she showed no improvement. That’s when the veterinarian suggested Joycelyn take Kirbi to LSU, where a CT scan showed elbow dysplasia, a condition involving abnormalities of the elbow joint.

“We thought it was arthritis. When we learned what it was, we decided to try acupuncture treatments, and we were lucky enough to get Dr. Lorrie Hale,” Joycelyn said.

Lorrie Hale, DVM, CTCVMP, began seeing Kirbi in February 2018 and continues to treat her. Dr. Hale is certified in veterinary acupuncture, Tui-na (massage to realign the body), Chinese herbal medicine, and food therapy. She has earned the title of Certified Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Practitioner, one of only three certified in Louisiana and one of only 59 in the world.

“Cat acupuncture is amazing. And Kirbi likes it. It’s really helping her,” Dr. Hale said.

Joycelyn brings her every six weeks for acupuncture to relieve symptoms of elbow dysplasia.

“Lorrie is wonderful, and her personality is a delight. She truly cares about Kirbi’s wellbeing. She’s always open and honest about everything. She knows Kirbi, and the cat knows her and responds well to her. The acupuncture definitely helps,” Joycelyn said, who added that she’ll continue the treatments until there’s cause to make another decision.

Acupuncture, an ancient healing technique first documented in China, involves inserting small needles into key areas of the body, helping to re-establish physiological balance.  When treating a cat, it is helpful that there is usually more than one point that can be chosen to insert a needle and address a condition, allowing the veterinarian options when working with a pet.

“I was surprised at how accepting Kirbi was of needles. It’s amazing. They don’t seem to bother her.

Her quality of life is good. She still occasionally limps, but her life is not diminished,” said Joycelyn.

Joycelyn said Kirby’s acupuncture treatments are a priority in her life.

“I tell people at my work, ‘I’ll be in at noon today, Kirby’s going to LSU for her acupuncture,” said Joycelyn, who doesn’t mind the 60-minute round trip to appointments.

She said that if her dogs need it, she will bring them for acupuncture treatments, too. 

The LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Service includes acupuncture, Tui-na, Chinese herbal medicine, food therapy, and rehabilitation service for small animals, horses, exotics, and farm animal species. Expert services are provided by trained and certified individuals encouraging patient healing and improved well-being by augmenting traditional medical and surgical treatments with traditional Chinese veterinary medicine and rehabilitative services. The integrative medicine service works collaboratively with other veterinarians within the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to provide the best care possible.

The LSU SVM’s Integrative Medicine Support Fund was established by Sue and Donald Crow, helping to create one of the foremost integrative medicine programs in the nation.

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 30 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. The LSU SVM is dedicated to improving the lives of people and animals through education, research and service. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect. 

Media Contact

Ginger Guttner, Director of Public Relations

LSU School of Veterinary Medicine

225-578-9922 or ginger@lsu.edu