Hello, it’s Freddie.
As promised, I’m going to tell you about arthritis in cats this week. Arthritis is way more common than you realize because cats hide their problems well.
And, as you know, I’m a senior cat myself, so I can really relate to this one. Sometimes I just ache all over and hardly feel like jumping up on the counter to catch some sunlight. Let me tell you what I know …
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints and tissues around the joints.
It also means stiffness, achiness, and … reluctance to get up and go!
What are the signs of arthritis in cats?
Our hips and elbows are most commonly affected on both sides, so we often don’t limp.
But what you might notice in your cat:
- Trouble using the litter box and, therefore, accidents near the box
- Decreased grooming
- Reluctance to be combed
- Withdrawing and hiding
- Jumping and moving less
- Sleeping more.
The symptoms come on so slowly that most people think “it’s just old age”.
How is it diagnosed? The veterinarian will be suspicious of arthritis based on your observations of your cat, a physical exam, blood tests to rule out underlying medical issues, and sometimes x-rays.
How is arthritis treated in cats?
Environmental control. There are many easy ways to alter your cat’s home to help reduce arthritis pain. Cut a low opening in the litter box so your cat doesn’t have to jump in/out. Make a set of steps for your cat to get to his or her favourite spot. Provide soft well-padded beds in your cat’s favourite spots. In general, older arthritic cats LOVE sources of heat, like a warmed up grain bag or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. If you use a heating pad, be sure it is at a low setting and not going to cause burns.
Pain medication. There are some safe pain medications available from the veterinarian, which can be given at low doses daily, which will make your cat more comfortable. Blood testing first is very important to make sure there isn’t a problem with the kidneys already. The medication is available in a tasty liquid that is easily given by mouth. Some pills or flavoured medications can also be specially made for the fussiest of cats.
Joint supplements. These are believed to have a positive influence on cartilage health by altering cartilage repair and maintenance in the joints. These joint supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are “nutraceuticals” and many cats benefit from them.
Essential Fatty Acids (DHA and EPA), the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to have marked anti-inflammatory effects in cats. They come in a fishy-tasting oil or little capsules.
Weight loss. If your cat is overweight, it stresses the arthritic joints even more and contributes to the pain. Talk to the health care team at Steeples Veterinary Clinic and together we can work with you to come up with a plan for weight loss for your cat.
Yes, it’s not fun getting old. I’m really young for my age, but some days I just have the aches all over.
I’m glad that many of these treatments are available, so then I can get back to normal around here.
I have to wander around and listen and learn. That’s how I became a cat that knows!