Cat rescue & homeopathy Pt.2

***IMPORTANT UPDATE AT END***

I titled my last post cognitive dissonance again because it is another perfect example (original is here). When faced with information that directly conflicts with their belief, the folks at VOKRA simply made it go away. They do use conventional medicine alongside homeopathy et al., and I can’t blame them too much for doing what they they think is right, but there are two big problems with the way they reacted to my comments.

  1. They are not a private company, they are a charitable organization. This means they should be accountable to their donors and allow them to be fully aware of their practices. In my view, repeatedly deleting my comments and disallowing further public discourse breaches the trust between donor and charity.
  2. Money issues aside, you could ask what the harm is: it is giving homeopaths legitimacy. I am damn sure that those homeopathic vets they’re seeing are also treating animals that are receiving no conventional medicine, which is in my view dangerous neglect of the health of an innocent animal

Karen from VOKRA did have one more reply for me (pasted as is):

well what you are saying does not make sense to me.what we do is make kittens and cats healthy in manymany ways ,,I am not telling people to use all methods we do ,just saying a lot of cats would be dead without it… and   I have no time to debate things      too many cats

No time to debate thing because too many cats? She is definitely trying to make me out to be the bad guy, as wasting her time. Nothing could be further from my intent. I am trying to save them from wasting precious resources. My reply:

What I am saying, in plain terms, is that you are wasting money on remedies that are repeatedly fail clinical trials and are utterly unproven. There is no proof that these sorts of remedies safe lives. Your experience is not proof. I am not trying to be heartless or cruel, of course I want to save cats, but as a charitable organization you have a responsibility to use your donors’ money effectively.

I wonder if she will reply. A member of one of the Skeptic groups on facebook suggested that their use of unproven medicine may be a breach of their status as a charity in Canada. I am tempted to pursue the legal route, although it was pointed out that the charity overseers probably don’t want to rock the boat on this sort of thing, but I am also holding back because VOKRA obviously does do important work and I don’t want people to simply stop donating. I just want them to use that money where it will really be of use!

***UPDATE: VOKRA have apologised on their facebook page:

Hello VOKRA friends, supporters, and fans,

Please accept our apologies for the deletion that happened yesterday. We have a few different page admins, and our volunteers are very passionate about what we all do. Sometimes a passionate page admin gets a little flustered,… and things go sideways. In the recent case with Olive and homeopathy, some things got deleted, which shouldn’t have been. The discussion of all veterinary care should be open for rational and informed discussion, because that’s how we learn more, and that’s how we help the best we can.

We have discussed this, and it should not happen again.

I am posting this message to a few threads, and am hoping you all see it. Feel free to send us a message should you have further questions.

I replied with this:

Thank you so much for your apology. I was never meaning to be hurtful, but I too am passionate about animal care, especially when I got my own cats from you.
For those of you unaware of what the issue, I have recorded most of the exchange in my blog (https://hayleydunning.wordpress.com/) if anyone has questions, please feel free to contact me (I don’t want to unnecessarily clog up VOKRA’s page)

I’m so pleased someone had the sense to release that quashing me was not the responsible thing to do. Way to go!

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5 thoughts on “Cat rescue & homeopathy Pt.2

  1. Hello Hayley,

    Not all homeopathic medicines can be lumped together, just like other forms of medicine. It’s not a fair comparison to point to leeches, because at the time they were being used, leeches were conventional medicine. So was shock treatment at one time, Valium was prescribed liberally, and women douched with a disinfectant made by Lysol, as recommended by their doctors.

    Rest assured that VOKRA does not only use homeopathic medicine, but relies on advice and experience from numerous licensed veterinarians when considering cats under our care. When one form of medicine doesn’t work or has the potential to do damage, we try another.

    I respect your opinion, but we take advice first and foremost from veterinarians and trained medical practitioners when it comes to the care of cats and kittens.

    You are a trained professional writer, and I think your summarizing of Karen’s replies are highly biased and speculative, and you should know better as a journalist. Karen is a passionate cat rescuer who is not a professional writer. If you’d like to post her email to to, please let them stand alone. Nobody is trying to make anyone into the “bad guy.”

    When it comes to skepticism, it’s important to be skeptical not only of homeopathic medicine, but also of mainstream medicine as well. The beauty of science is that it is always questioning itself, and always open to new studies and applications, while being cautious to not claim anything as the be-all-end-all truth.

    It was definitely wrong to delete comments, and I understand that you’re upset – I certainly would be as well. Just understand we do all we can, and use all resources we have available, and use them very carefully to make sure our cats survive and are healthy.

    Best,
    -Alexis

    1. I am not lumping “homeopathic medicines” – I am talking about homeopathy, which by definition is the use of highly diluted substances. I am not talking about herbal remedies.
      With the leeches etc, the examples you point out yourself were prescribed by doctors – so-called professionals – but were harmful and/or ineffective. Professionals disagree, and I know you will find vets who condem the use of homeopathy, and they are also highly-trained professionals. So how do you decide who to trust? Research for yourself the efficacy (or lack of) of these substances, how they are uncontrolled, and what the actual mechanism of creating such substances is – which as I said before amounts to less of the active substance than one drop in the ocean.

      The beauty of science is questioning itself, and homeopathy has repeatedly failed to answer those questions with any proof. I am not saying all conventional medicine does unending good, but at least they have passed trials for efficacy and safety (homeopathy etc are not regulated under normal drug laws, which is appalling).

      As for my writings here, yes I was passionate, but ultimately I have laid out what Karen and I have said without edit.

    2. Actually, all homeopathic medicines, if they are true homeopathic “remedies,” don’t even need to be lumped together, since that lumping together is done by the proponents of it to begin with.

      No matter which remedie we’re looking at, for whichever symptoms and illnesses, water is water is water is water is water.

      It’s like filling 100 glasses of purified water, and claiming that not all the glasses can be lumped together.

      Many come in the form of little round pills, but still, those are still “homeopathic” by being treated with the 100% purified water that has resulted from the superstitious production of the solutions via dilution.

      Yes, they start off with a mother tincture of different substances, following the tradition of “like cures like,” but once finished, there seldom remains a single trace of that substance.

      In fact, it’s more like taking water form lake A, and water from lake B….
      and diluting them to such a high degree with pure H2O, that not even a trace of the original lake waters remain in the final samples…. And then making a claim that those two samples of absolutely, identically pure water with nothing more than H2O composing each, are unable to be “lumped together,” the only reason being that before the ridiculously extreme dilution, the two original samples were from different lakes.

      The two pure samples now, which ARE identical, are only being claimed not to be, because those molecules touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules that touched molecules (I should really make that a lot longer…), that touched molecules of the original lake water.

      That does not make them unique, I assure you. And there is no reason I could not “lump them together” since they are no identical samples of pure water.

      And as per leeches, well that has to do with the origins of homeopathy. The founder of this pseudo-science was indeed, and JUSTIFIABLY appalled with the conventional medicine of those days. Leeches and even more extreme forms of blood letting, just being a common example. So he broke off and attempted to come up with an alternative, more humane, and actually effective medical philosophy. Commendable of course. But unfortunately, what he came up with was just as much a matter of superstitious ignorance as the barbarism he was appalled by. The only improvement was that homeopathy wasn’t so barbaric. But just the same, it did not work either. And still does not, despite any flawed and emotionally driven confirmation biases today.

      People are also convinced through personal experiences, that lucky charms are effective at the casino. That doesn’t make it true. That makes it a product of our human nature, and our difficulty in accurately understanding probabilities and statistics.

      If things were able to be labelled as effective because we have seen improvement when we have personally observed its administration, then there is absolutely no doubt that there would be available for sale in every pharmacy, bottles of sugar pills, with absolutely no medicinal ingredient in them, which are marketed as analgesics, and any number of other symptoms and even at times, minor ailments…

      Yes, sugar pills have been “observed” and “proven” to work, just as much as homeopathy has. How is this? Something called the placebo effect.

      And even animals can experience a secondary placebo effect when our own behaviour reflects on of happiness, confidence, security, hope, etc.. I give a dog a peanut, and am convinced that it will cure his wounded leg, so start showing optimism, I relax, and get happier, and so on, since I have already decided that peanuts cure wounded legs… And it’s likely that the dog too will start to APPEAR better.

      Just the same, even if the animal does not change all that much, we can so easily fool ourselves, and subjectively/emotionally perceive that they have improved, because of confirmation bias. We are wanting something to happen, and/or expect it to, and as a result, we subconsciously start looking for indications to justify that desire or assumption of ours, while even disregarding any indications to the contrary.

      This is the point in the care and attention given to scientific study. To eliminate the so fallible, unreliable perceptions of the human element. We all have this fallibility, and it doesn’t make any of us any lesser of intelligent people, but we really absolutely must be wary of it, or we can wind up tossing salt over our backs at meal time to ward off bad luck, and hoping we don’t see any black cats, ladders, or fragile mirrors. Superstition loves personal perception and confirmation bias.

      Logic and rationality, science, and reality, do not however have any use for personal perception and confirmation biases, or emotional evaluation of our observations..
      We need to exhibit care in what we observe and conclude, rather than carelessness.

  2. Thanks Skeptikel for that great description of homeopathy!

    With Alexis saying I lumped homeopathic remedies together, it seems that it’s a classic case of people not knowing exactly what homeopathy is. It is not another “natural” or “wholesome” remedy. It is not herbal remedies. It is highly diluted water.
    I didn’t know this myself until a couple of years ago. When I found out exactly what it was I was like “Wow, really?? How is this a thing? How can water be considered a medicine?” The Wikipedia page is also actually pretty good at talking about what it is. It’s surprising how many people just don’t know.

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