[Author’s note: This is one of the most impressive things I’ve tried in my 18 years of reviewing cat products. It gets 6 paws out of a possible five.]
Cats are masters of deception. I don’t mean their claims of starving only minutes after being fed, but their ability to hide pain. Because people openly complain about our discomfort, we look for similar signs in our pets. Cats, however, suffer pain from any number of causes in secret.
Why don’t they show they’re hurting?
Because in the food chain, every hungry predator bigger than Fluffy wants to eat him. Complaining their knees ache or their eyes feel like they’re on fire is as good as ringing the coyote’s dinner bell. It doesn’t matter that your kitty lives inside; instinct still forces him to stay painfully mum.
Research shows that 90 percent of cats over 12 years suffer from joint disease (i.e. arthritis). 90 percent! Another study found the X-rays of 22 percent of the kitties of all ages showed joint degeneration. What other pain might your kitty be hiding?
And feline pain management is a challenge—far fewer options than dogs. Long term pain relief can cost a paw and a tail and in some cases could result in serious side effects.
Dealing with Feline Pain
I recently discovered a new technology, the Assisi Loop 2.0, to treat pets’ inflammatory pain such as orthopedic injuries, degenerative neurological issues, post-surgical pain and swelling, inflammatory conditions and wounds.
I have to admit I’m a world-class skeptic, and I had a dilemma. How could I review this product? It’s difficult enough to detect feline pain. Without being a mind reader, how can I quantify my cats’ pain relief? It turns out, I didn’t have to be a pet psychic.
The Back Story
A couple of years ago, Assisi Animal Health sent me a sample of the Assisi Loop 2.0 in exchange for an honest review. Somehow, it disappeared on the way home from the post office. (So sorry, Assisi. I really am.) Recently, I had a tire blowout. I pulled out the spare tire and that’s when I found my two-year old unopened Assisi Loop. (It must have slid out of my mail bag.)
While trying to change the tire, my hand slipped and I slammed my index metacarpophalangeal joint (big knuckle) full force against the lug wrench. It was exquisite pain, a level of throbbing I simply can’t describe. My hand felt like it was on fire. Sitting in the driver’s seat waiting for the pain to subside, I thought, “Why not try the Assisi Loop?”
The instructions were straight forward. The unit is preprogrammed to provide 150 15-minute sessions. Push the button to turn on. If you can’t do 15 minutes, turn it off by pressing the button again until the green light goes off. Wait at least two hours before using it again or you risk reducing the battery life. Got it. Would there be any battery power left after two years in a hot Texas car? I doubted it.
I placed the Assisi Loop over my knuckle and pressed the button. The light came on, but I felt no sensation, no tingling, no pain relief. I wouldn’t have known it was on if not for the blinking light. Finally it stopped blinking. The treatment was over and my joint still ached. Oh well.
However, a couple of minutes later, something surprising happened; the pain vanished. I thought perhaps the pain has simply run its course. I got back on the road and made it safely home. The following day, the throbbing returned. Not as intense, but painful nevertheless. Once again I tried the Assisi Loop with the same results.
Last week, my 6-month-old Siamese-mix foster failure, Ernie, was suffering from a painful bout of conjunctivitis associated with feline herpesvirus. The tissue surrounding his left eye was so inflamed, his eyelids were almost completely swollen shut. My vet ordered antiviral eye drops, but it would be five days before they arrived. Since conjunctivitis is inflammation, I thought this would be a good test for the Assisi Loop. (I’m sorry I didn’t take before and after photos.)
Hard to believe, but after three treatments I could see no visible inflammation. Of course, we still needed to treat the viral component of the conjunctivitis when the drops arrived, but he appeared to feel so much more comfortable. Extrapolating from this experience, the Loop will also be a godsend for cats struggling with bladder pain from interstitial cystitis and pancreatitis. (Assisi this could be a windfall. Please consider clinical trials of cystitis kitties!!) Our cat, Emily, recently recovered from pancreatitis. If she has a recurrence, she will also receive Assisi treatments.
How does it work?
The Assisi Loop® is an FDA approved non-pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory device (NPAID®t). It emits a targeted pulsed electromagnetic field (tPEMF) into the inflamed tissue, increasing the production of nitric oxide, a chemical essential to the healing process of soft and hard tissues (skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and organs.) inflammation occurs from orthopedic injuries, degenerative disorders, neurological issues, inflammatory conditions, wounds and post-surgical swelling. Our bodies naturally release this compound whenever we exercise, or we are injured to speed healing, reduce inflammation, and lower pain levels. Studies backing these claims have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The technology has even been cleared by the FDA for treating post-operative pain and edema in people. (In 1998, the discovery of nitric oxide’s role in healing received the Nobel Prize for Medicine.)
The Loop need not directly touch the cat (or dog or horse) and can penetrate bandages, casts and fur to reach all the tissue in the target area. The Assisi Loop can be used alone or with acupuncture, chiropractic and pain meds. The Loop has none of the dangerous potential side effects of pain meds.
The Assisi Loop is priced at $269. It is available through some veterinarians or you can purchase it directly through Assisi Health Animal Health with a prescription. For more information check out http://www.assisianimalhealth.com.
Do your cats have problems with pain? Tell me about it in the comments below.
 Radiographic evidence of degenerative joint disease in geriatric cats: 100 cases (1994-1997). Hardie EM, Roe SC, Martin FR. JAVMA 220:628-632, 2002.
 Osteoarthritis in cats: A retrospective radiological study. Godfrey DR.J Small Anim Pract 46:425-429, 2005.