Thank you to holistic veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Ramelmeier for taking the time to do this interview with us about Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).
You can listen to the recorded version here: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) with Holistic Veterinarian Jennifer Ramelmeier, DVM or just click play below.
Or listen to it on YouTube:
Here is a transcription of our conversation, if you’d prefer to read:
Jenny of Floppycats: Hi, Floppycatters. Today, we have the pleasure of talking to Dr. Ramelmeier who graduated from OSU Veterinary School in 1986. And after 10 years of practicing conventional veterinary medicine, she decided there had to be a better way of treating her patients. So, she went on to study veterinary homeopathy under Dr. Richard Pitcairn from 2000 to 2001. And in May of 2008, she was certified a veterinary homeopath by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy. Dr. Ramelmeier also is an Ushi Reiki Master and is proficient in Chinese and American herbal therapy. She currently runs a 100% holistic practice in Clarksville, Maryland, and her website is pureholisticvet.com which I will link to in the transcription of this interview. Dr. Ramelmeier, thank you very much for being here.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Thank you for having me.
Jenny: Welcome. We are going to talk about FIV today.
Dr. Ramelmeier: That’s right.
Jenny: Not to be confused with FIP, which somebody thought we were talking about when I announced it on our Facebook page.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yes. But they’re different viruses…
Dr. Ramelmeier: …FIV versus FIP, and FIV more emulates the HIV in humans.
Dr. Ramelmeier: It’s a lifelong disease. They always have it once they’ve contracted it. But we have a lot of cats out there with FIV that can live almost their entire life with proper care.
Jenny: Okay. How is it contracted or how do you know that your cat has it?
Dr. Ramelmeier: So, how do you know? Generally, a lot of people don’t know. It’s just the routine testing that a lot of veterinarians do when they first see a patient where they do FIV and FeLV testing at the same time where they’ll come up positive. You might see an FIV cat that has really severe gingivitis. But generally, you really do usually miss the acute disease most of the time, and we rarely really see really severe disease in our patients. It’s mostly diagnosed, at least in my practice, through the blood work.
Dr. Ramelmeier: But as far as how it’s contracted, the most frequent cause would be bite wounds. There are other ways. Apparently, it can be through saliva and probably sexual transmission as well, but probably not as common.
Dr. Ramelmeier: And then the other thing it does, it’s just like HIV – it’s not necessarily the HIV virus that is killing the patients. It’s the secondary infections that result – bacteria, other bacterial infections, other viral infections, that kind of thing.
Jenny: Okay. So, you bring your cat in and it tests positive, then what’s the next step?
Dr. Ramelmeier: The next step is generally we try to recommend maybe that they not share food or water bowls with the other cats in the household. If an FIV patient comes to me, I start right away with homeopathy, which is a system of medicine that strengthens the body and strengthens the immune system, so they don’t become prone to other infections. And homeopathy is a system of medicine developed by Hahnemann about 250 years ago. And it’s all based on cure. It’s a cure system. In some cases, we can actually reverse the FIV infection with homeopathy. But in general, if not using homeopathy, you can expect that that cat will have that FIV infection for the rest of his life.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Homeopathy is a very, very deep cure system that can actually even reverse the DNA in the body. So, it’s a very powerful system of medicine, and I use that along with Standard Process products that stimulate the immune system. There’s also Vetri-Mega, VetriScience products that stimulate the immune system. And there are a lot of different herbs that you can use. I usually start with homeopathy and then very often maybe Standard Process products that they have. There’s a product called Feline Immune Support that’s really wonderful. There’s a product called Thymex, that’s in the human line, but the cats tend to really like the human line better than they do the cat line of Standard Process. So, that is really important – to keep the immune system strong so they don’t contract the other infections that are always around us, right. We’re always going to be in contact with bacteria, yeast, viruses.
Jenny: Okay. So, for someone like me that has heard the word but obviously can’t even pronounce it correctly – homeopathy, is that how you say it?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Homeopathy, Mm-hmm.
Jenny: Okay. What is that? Is it like tinctures? What is it?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Homeopathic remedies are very, very dilute tinctures of different things, more than 6,000 different things. It could be a tincture made from a rock or arsenic or phosphorous, different flowers, different trees, water from Wiesbaden,
Germany. You can make homeopathic remedy from anything. All you’re doing is taking that substance and then diluting it thousands of times until the molecules aren’t even there. What’s in existence is only the nanoparticles, which you can actually see these nanoparticles if you get an electron microscope. So, we know there are nanoparticles in the homeopathic remedies which do actually work on the body, but it’s not like an herb tincture that still has the actual herb in it.
Dr. Ramelmeier: It works on the energetic portion of your body, which is the majority of your body. You’re mostly energy and space. And so that’s what homeopathy works on. It works on the energetic body. It’s pretty amazing, and I have really great success with it. As I said, I studied under Pitcairn many years ago, and I use it pretty much a hundred percent in my practice because it works so much better than any of the conventional products that I’ve been trained with in veterinary school.
Dr. Ramelmeier: But the thing about homeopathy is every patient is different. So, every patient might have a different remedy that they respond to because they’re all based on symptoms that that particular patient exhibits. So, one FIV patient might have stomatitis. One FIV cat may have eye infections. And as I said, you take the whole case and the symptoms, and you match it to the homeopathic remedy that matches with it. And there are all sorts of literature books that help guide you. I use a computer program that’s made especially for homeopathy, and then we match it. If you’re working with a case like FIV, I wouldn’t recommend anybody just read a book and start prescribing on their own because it takes probably like five years of practice and study to actually get a good hold on this system of medicine. So, you really need somebody professionally trained until you actually get the right remedy, and do it as quickly as possible. So, what I’m saying is sometimes they prescribe and maybe that’s not the right remedy so it might take several tries to figure out what remedy really matches this patient.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Sometimes we don’t get the right symptoms from the owner or maybe the symptoms are hidden because the owner gave an antibiotic and antibiotics actually hide the true symptoms of the patient. There a lot of factors involved. So, there’s got to be some patience involved. But the rewards are great because you can have a healthy cat that doesn’t have any problems for its life cycle, for its life’s term.
Jenny: Once you’ve done the computer system and you have the accurate symptoms, how is whatever it is that you give administered and what is it that you give?
Dr. Ramelmeier: That’s the really great thing about homeopathy is they come in tiny, tiny little sugar pills and you only have to give like five of them to a cat. Usually cats are notorious as far as trying to give them things, but this is really easy. I mean, you rarely have a problem getting these into a cat. You can also put the five pellets in a little bit of milk and let it dissolve and let cat drink the milk or the cream. So, we never have any problem with getting those in them. It’s really easy. Sometimes it’s a one-day treatment. Sometimes it’s a two-week treatment. It all depends on what that homeopath decides is the correct administration of the remedy.
Jenny: Okay. Okay. And so then the Standard Process and the other things that you mentioned, are those pills administered later?
Dr. Ramelmeier: I usually start them with them because it’s good support because the Feline Immune Support and the Thymex actual have pretty good research behind them that shows that it increases the killer t cells in the body which are your best defense against viruses and cancers because they’re your biggest friend in the body. They actually have research that shows the use of these products does increase that. I definitely do that along. Sometimes I do an herbal. It really depends on the severity of the kitty. If I just get a kitty that comes up positive with FIV, I might just do homeopathy. No symptoms – I might just do homeopathy to reverse it. But if I get a cat that has a lot of symptoms, really, really sick, then I add a few more things like some herbals. Astragalus is a pretty good thing to get into a cat because it’s a very mild herb. It doesn’t have many side effects. It’s very soothing, and it improves the immune system.
Jenny: Okay. A good friend of mine is studying herbs and she just told me to start drinking that tea. So, that’s interesting that you mentioned it.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah, it’s an easygoing herb. It’s a very wonderful herb for stimulating the immune system. It also soothes the digestive tract. Cats are big vomiters, so Chinese herbs are a little hard to give to a cat always because you do get a lot of vomiting if you’re not careful with the Chinese herbals. So, I don’t usually use Chinese herbals in cats as a rule. I use just American herbs, the Standard Process, and the homeopathy. My goal with cats and treating them is if they don’t eat it as a treat or they won’t eat it in their food or they won’t take it readily in their mouth, then we don’t do it at all because we don’t want to stress the patient either because stress equals disease, and we don’t need to add to the disease. So, if they won’t take the pill, then we don’t give them the pill.
Jenny: Okay. Well, I like that because that’s what I was thinking. I’ve been to an acupuncturist where I needed to give Chinese herbs to a cat and it’s just not a good thing. So, I understand that. And even the Standard Process, like the Immune Support, I know that those come in pills, correct?
Dr. Ramelmeier: They do. And their bacon flavored, so there are some cats that like them. I would say it’s probably 50%. And it’s always worth a try because then they become treats, and you just put them on the ground, and they eat them. Like my cats will eat them. But I would say 50%. But I have to say the Thymex has been the much greater success.
Jenny: Do they eat those as well?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah, they’ll just eat those as a treat. They think that those are really yummy. The last one I dispensed it to was an FIV cat. The FIV cat wouldn’t eat the Feline Immune, so we switched to Thymex and it was amazing.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah.
Jenny: Well that has to be rewarding for you as well because you provide relief for the owner like that.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah. I really don’t want anybody pilling their cat.
Jenny: Just because of the stress for both?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Stress for both, yeah. And then you get hiders. You’re going to get cats who start hiding from their owners.
Jenny: Oh yes.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah. You’re just going to increase the potential for the disease to expand if you stress out the patient.
Jenny: Gotcha. So, if I don’t live in an area where someone does what you do, can I contact you and send you the bloodwork or is there opportunity there?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Basically yeah, you send me all the information from the vet. Usually most of the vet records, they’re really helpful because I like to see a timeline of how did we get to this point. Then we schedule a time to talk. There’s a form that I require my clients to fill out and sign that basically gives me permission to treat homeopathically versus the regular system. And then we schedule a phone consult, and the phone consult, the first initial one, usually lasts about an hour of time. And then I need another 20 to 30 minutes to process the information.
Jenny: Okay. What is the standard? Like if I were to go to a regular vet for FIV, how would they end up treating it?
Dr. Ramelmeier: They probably would just tell you to keep the patient away from the other cats. And I don’t know, it really depends on how forward thinking the veterinarian is as far as whether or not they’re using probiotics or maybe immune stimulants – Lysine, some of them you use.
Dr. Ramelmeier: But I would say there’s really no allopathic, no conventional. They don’t use the antivirals or anything like that for it.
Dr. Ramelmeier: They’ll just put a sign on the record saying this kitty is FIV positive, so they have to take extra precautions whenever the cat comes in.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah.
Jenny: I’m so sorry for that interruption. If we go back to what you were talking about, the hour consultation and then the 20 to 30 minutes to process, then what happens from there? Do you send something in the mail to the patient?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah.
Jenny: But obviously people in Maryland can come to you. I just was thinking about people outside of Maryland.
Dr. Ramelmeier: But even people in Maryland, any client has to start with a phone consult with me anyhow, and then I schedule an in person consult. So, I start with a phone consult. Anyhow, it’s just my policy. It works for me.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yes. But the same thing for you all, I would start with a phone consult. I do charge for it, and I have information that I send that goes over my fees and how long it will take. And then we just talk. Usually I talk to my patients every three to four weeks until we resolve the issue or until the patient is better. And once they’re better, then we go on an as-needed basis.
Jenny: Okay. Have you been able to “cure” or is that not the word to use?
Dr. Ramelmeier: I have had FIV patients go negative, go from positive to negative.
Jenny: Oh, so it shows up negative in the bloodwork?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah.
Jenny: …is what you mean by that, okay.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Or sometimes the owners don’t care if it’s positive or negative. They care about whether or not the cat is comfortable. So, if the cat no longer sneezes all the time and no longer has diarrhea or whatever symptom can be as a result of this FIV in this particular patient, then they’re happy. So that’s what’s most important – that the patient looks good, acts healthy, eats well, is thriving. That’s the most important thing anyhow. Whether or not they’re positive or negative really doesn’t matter anymore.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Except for, I guess, if contagious to other cats. But yeah, I have had them go from positive to negative.
Jenny: That’s pretty cool. You mentioned if they’re eating well and stuff like that. Do you specifically recommend a diet, or do you suggest they stay on the diet they’ve been on?
Dr. Ramelmeier: Well, I’m a big raw food person, but it’s also on a case to case basis. So, if I feel like this cat is really immune deficient, then raw is not going to be a good idea because there’s a lot of bacteria in raw diets which a healthy cat can handle just fine. So, we wouldn’t want to do that. But I definitely would want them on an organic – the most high-quality diet that I can find. And I’m really not fond of dry food at all or canned food. So, an alternative for an FIV patient would be like a home cooked diet of maybe turkey and a little bit of baby food that has green beans or sweet potatoes or something like that.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Diet is eighty percent of health, so diet has a lot to do with how healthy they are.
Jenny: Right. Right.
Dr. Ramelmeier: But I don’t recommend cans because of all the heavy metals and BPA residues and also a lot of the canned foods just put too many things in them. There’s a canned food called Weruva that I’m okay with. It starts with a W. But I in general really prefer people to either feed raw or a home cooked diet.
Dr. Ramelmeier: …to an FIV patient, well any cat really. I prefer raw.
Jenny: Okay. And I assume that you have the recipes that you can send to clients and all that if they aren’t familiar with it.
Dr. Ramelmeier: I have a little handout that goes over proportions of what percentage meat to vegetables that a dog versus a cat gets. It’s a pretty simple recipe. It’s whatever vegetables you have and whatever meat you have. There are a lot of recipes online, but generally I recommend Darwin’s or Steve’s Raw Diet or K-9 Kraving’s – I don’t know if K-9 Kraving is even around anymore. Or any local person that is making raw food diet, generally that’s what I recommend doing because it’s easy and you don’t have to figure it out. Because really the best raw diets are going to have organ meats in them. They need about 10% of organ meats, and that really covers a lot of the nutritional needs of a cat.
Jenny: Right. Okay.
Dr. Ramelmeier: So, that’s instead of you having to go and get liver and heart and do all that, that’s usually what I recommend. But there are some people that just want to do it themselves, and it’s actually the healthiest if you do a raw diet yourself because all these diets are coming to you frozen. And ultimately frozen food is never as good as fresh food.
Jenny: Gotcha. Okay. Well I know that you only had a certain amount of time that we could talk, so I don’t want to keep you but wanted to make sure – I don’t know if you had notes of anything I didn’t ask that you wanted to cover.
Dr. Ramelmeier: No, I think we did a good job of covering everything. And if anybody wants my handout, it goes over a little bit more about homeopathy, what it is. There’s also a great book that I’d recommend that everybody read called Beyond Flat Earth Medicine. It’s a free online book and it’s written by Dr. Dooley. It’s really simple. It’s an amazing system of medicine. I use it on myself. I use it on my family, on my pets. I would never use anything else.
Jenny: Okay. I will search for that online and if I can’t find it, I’ll shoot you an email and ask for the link so we can link to it.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah, I think it’s www.beyondflatearthmedicine.com .
Jenny: Okay, well that’s simple enough.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Yeah, I think so, if it’s still there. I think my latest new client found it.
Jenny: Okay. Well, thank you for taking the time today to do this. And I will include a link to your website pureholisticvet.com and the YouTube video if someone’s listening to it there or in the transcription that appears on Floppycats.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Okay, great. All right, pleasure talking to you.
Jenny: Same. Thank you very much.
Dr. Ramelmeier: You’re welcome. Take care.
Jenny: Bye-bye. You too.
Dr. Ramelmeier: Alright, bye-bye.