Humans have successfully used red light therapy to treat their own conditions like hair loss, acne and rosacea. Even going for a walk in the sun to boost your mood can be considered an informal type of light therapy!
But did you know that red light therapy can also have a positive impact on the life and health of your cat?
Red light therapy is proving, through both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence, to be just as beneficial for animals as it is for humans. Treatment with red light therapy is safe and has very few negative side effects, unlike many traditional veterinary treatments for cats. There are even several products available for purchase that are targeted specifically for your furry friends!
In this post, we’ll take a look at light therapy generally and red light therapy for cats specifically.
What Is Light Therapy?
Light therapy, also referred to as phototherapy or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a type of medical treatment that isolates specific wavelengths of light from the light spectrum. It uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or low-power lasers to produce those light wavelengths and shine them on various parts of the body to produce a desired outcome.
Some light therapy treatments, such as those for seasonal affective disorder, instead use full-spectrum light to imitate natural sunlight.
In humans, light therapy can be performed at home with a personal device or in a clinical setting under a doctor or other trained professional’s care.
Body cells in most living organisms require light to function well. Mitochondria in those cells absorb particles of light and use them to produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source for cells. This increase in energy helps cells to function more quickly and efficiently.
Red light therapy in particular is helpful to increase blood flow, promote tissue healing and decrease inflammation in the body.
Pets may be exposed to more natural sunlight than we modern humans are, but they can still benefit greatly from targeted light therapy!
Is Light Therapy Safe and Effective for Animals?
Over 2,000 peer-reviewed studies back the safety and effectiveness of light therapy in humans for a variety of ailments. It’s an amazingly effective treatment with a remarkably low side-effect profile.
Although fewer studies have been performed in animals, research seems to indicate that light therapy is equally safe and effective for animals.
Research into the benefits of red light therapy for cats is lagging slightly behind research in other animals such as horses and dogs. Some small studies have examined photodynamic red light therapy with the use of a light-sensitizing drug in treating feline squamous cell carcinomas. The research showed promising results, but only studied that very specific use case.
The coming years will likely produce a variety of studies on the benefits of red light therapy in cats, but in the meantime, comparable studies in dogs have shown promising results.
One randomized, blind, placebo-controlled study in particular showed significant improvement in dogs with elbow osteoarthritis (OA). The dogs who received treatment with near-infrared light (NIR) showed decreased pain and lameness scores compared to dogs who were treated with a placebo light. The dogs treated with NIR also demonstrated a decreased need for pain medication.
Check out our article about red light therapy for dogs if you’d like to learn more about other studies in dogs.
What Conditions Can Red Light Therapy Treat in Cats?
While red light therapy isn’t a magic bullet or miracle cure, the existing research in other animals indicates that a variety of feline conditions could benefit from red light therapy.
You can consider trying red light therapy if your cat suffers from:
- Sore muscles.
- Surgical scars.
- Cuts, wounds or abrasions.
- Injuries to the ligaments or tendons.
- Joint sprains.
- Osteoarthritis (OA).
- Joint pain.
The outlook for a cat treated with red light therapy will depend on the severity of the condition being treated as well as other factors like existing health problems.
What Red Light Therapy Products Are Available for Cats?
Research into the benefits of red light therapy for cats is a relatively new field of study. Because of this, the market of light therapy products for cats is less developed than other sectors.
For example, light therapy for humans is available in a variety of physicians’ offices and medical spas. Home-use devices abound to treat a range of ailments — from skin issues like acne, age spots and cellulite to more serious conditions like Crohn’s disease and genital herpes.
As more people discover the benefits of red light therapy for cats and other pets, the market will likely begin to catch up. For now, here are three light therapy devices currently available for cats and other pets.
The LumaSoothe is a handheld light therapy device for use with your cat (or dog) at home. It uses two modules for treatment.
The deep tissue module is suitable for arthritis, joint pain and hip dysplasia. This module is designed to increase circulation to the deep tissues and promote healing by decreasing inflammation.
The surface treatment module treats ailments closer to the skin, helping to speed healing of surgical scars, promote hair growth and soothe eczema and dermatitis. This device delivers a 15-minute treatment and turns off on its own when the treatment is over.
TendLite VetLight Red Light Therapy Device
The VetLight Red Light Therapy Device made by TendLite is intended to soothe cats’ muscle and joint ailments in the home environment, where they feel most comfortable.
You can use the VetLight on a number of conditions in cats, including:
- Acute or chronic otitis (ear infection).
- Strains and sprains.
- Degenerative joint disease.
- Lick granulomas.
- Post-surgical swelling.
B-Cure Laser Vet
The B-Cure Laser Vet is a handheld device that delivers low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to reduce inflammation and promote your cat’s natural healing processes. The device is intended for use in many conditions, including:
- Hip arthritis and dysplasia.
- Elbow osteoarthritis.
- Tendon weakness.
- Joint pain
- Oral issues.
- Chronic otitis (ear infection).
- Facial nerve paralysis
- Ruptured anal sacs and fistulas.
B-Cure devices have been studied in humans in multiple clinical trials as well.
Consult With Your Veterinarian Before Use
Because red light therapy for cats is a relatively new field of study, it’s a good idea to speak with a veterinarian with experience in animal light therapy to get their opinion.