Animal Hospital News

Cats get Arthritis, Too!

posted by Dr. Deb on November 8th, 2018 in Cats

Cats suffer from arthritis just as much as dogs.  They just suffer in silence.  

I often hear cat owners tell me that their cat has “finally learned to stay off the counters”.  Or they are worried that the cat can’t see because “he doesn’t always make it when he jumps up on the couch”.  When I ask what their cat does during the day, they usually tell me that their cats “sleep, but he’s a cat”. (OK, got me there! 🙂  )  So sometimes we have to dig deeper:  How does his activity level compare to a couple of years ago?  Last year?

Arthritis in cats is a very subtle and often debilitating disease. Because cats are so good at hiding pain and weakness, we often miss the subtle signs of arthritis in many of our aging cats.

SIGNS of Arthritis in Cats:

Reluctance to jump up on counters or other perches that were once favored.
Difficulty jumping or “missing the mark”—not quite making it to the perch.
Decreased activity
Increased sensitivity over the hindquarters (greater than in the past)
Poor grooming, especially of the hindquarters—this may be noted as an increase in dandruff on the hindquarters.

DIAGNOSIS… is based on a thorough physical examination and radiographs of the suspected area (spine, hips, knees, elbows…)

TREATMENTS
Weight loss is the best medicine for overweight cats with arthritis.

Complementary” Therapies: Acupuncture, Physical Rehabilitation, Cold Laser Therapy

Supplements: Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA 15-20mg/# daily), Glucosamine/ Chondroitin, Avacado unsaponified extracts

Adequan(R) injection therapy- we’ve had really good success with this!  Adequan is, essentially, an injectable form of glucosamine that travels to inflamed joints, improving the slipperiness of joint fluid, combatting inflammatory metabolites and providing building blocks for cartilage repair. 

Joint Support Prescription foods are especially beneficial for cats who don’t like omega 3 supplements (or you would prefer 1 less supplement to have to “give”)

Pain Medications- We have to be very careful with anti-inflammatories in cats (so NEVER give them human medication without consulting your kitty’s vet!), but newer, safer medications are becoming available for cats with arthritis.  We can use some other pain modifiers that are not necessarily anti-inflammatory to help kitties live more active lives, too!

How To Help Your Kitty Live Happier: 

  • Environmental Modifications allow your disabled kitty to continue enjoying the things he loves!
  • Food and water sources on the floor
  • Lower edge litterboxes. Maybe remove the lid
  • Steps or Ramps to favorite perches
  • Encourage exercise- play with your kitty for 10 minutes daily. Try leash walking (this where you attach the leash and follow your cat, right?). Hide food around the house to stimulate hunt/ foraging activities
  • Massage and grooming

If your cat is showing you any signs of osteoarthritis, please call your vet for an appointment and consultation.  Even if your kitty is NOT showing signs of arthritis, a check up with the vet once a year can identify the little things your cat is hiding before dis-ease becomes a crisis!

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