Cats are like people and dogs in that they are prone to getting arthritis. A 2007 study from the University of Glasgow estimates that 30% of all senior cats have arthritis. The study defined “senior cats” as being over eight years old. The feline version of arthritis is still just as painful to cats as for dogs or people and needs veterinary care. It will not go away on its own.
You need to take your cat to the vet for a proper diagnosis and to see if your cat needs any painkillers. Cats are pretty stoic when it comes to pain, but there is no need for your faithful friend to suffer needlessly. Cats can respond quite well to arthritis care and seem to know that you are only trying to help.
Common Types Of Feline Arthritis
The two most common types of feline arthritis that need arthritis care are called traumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. These two kinds are seen by vets far more frequently than any other kind of feline arthritis. Arthritis is still pretty mysterious as to why cats, dogs and people get it, so there really is no foolproof way of preventing it.
Traumatic arthritis results after a bad injury, or trauma, such as falling out of a tree, getting shot or being struck by a car. It is far safer for cats to live indoors in these modern times, because of crazy people, traffic and the invention of antifreeze, which most cats find a fatal fascination for. Signs of traumatic arthritis include swollen joints and an extreme reluctance for the cat to use that joint. He or she may hiss at you if you try to touch it.
Osteoarthritis is most like the kind of arthritis Grandma and Grandpa get, although it is not exclusively for old cats. It does seem to happen more to athletic cats who have had some injuries in their day. The symptoms are similar to traumatic arthritis, but the arthritic limb may also suddenly become deformed.
Arthritis care for cats is pretty good, if you have patience and a sense of humor. Your cat will most likely have to have x-rays. Your cat’s arthritis care will them usually be a combination of anti-inflammatory medications, diet restrictions (especially if the cat is overweight) and making sure the cat has some sort of exercise every day. The vet may recommend nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitan, although there has not been convincing clinical evidence that they help with feline arthritis.
Make sure the litter pan is easily accessible to the cat. If the cat has trouble navigating stairs, then you will have to move the litter pan to the ground floor. Choose a litter pan with low sides so that the cat can easily step in. If a cat can’t get into a pan, he or she will have no choice but to eliminate outside of the pan.
You can also make your cat’s life easier by getting a warming cat bed and pet steps to get onto allowed pieces of furniture. The jump may cause a flare up. Don’t have kids or other animals pester the cat so much. In really bad cases, surgery may be an option, but that is usually only offered by for extreme cases.
Arthritic cats tend to wake up incredibly stiff. If they are given a heated bed or a bed that helps to contain or reflect their own body heat, this can help reduce this painful stiffness. Cold may also aggravate symptoms, so be sure the cat has access to a nice, warm bed in a warm, dry room. A gentle massage about the shoulders may help to warm up stiff limbs, provided that the cat lets you touch her.
Complimentary and alternative treatments are not meant to replace conventional veterinary medicine, but add to it. Always talk to your veterinarinan before trying any alternative therapy on your cat. Your veterinairan may surprise you by being able to recommend an animal acupuncturist.
Although there are many holistic therapies that claim to help ease feline arthritis, the only one that’s been proven to help some cats is accupuncture and accupressure. Many cats wind up falling asleep during treatments, even when they have enough needles in their backs to make them look like a procupine.
“Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.” Delbert G. Carlson, DVM, et al. Howell Book House; 1995.
Science Daily. “Cats Do Suffer From Arthritis, Study Shows.” Aug. 29, 2007. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070824215618.htm
ASPCA. “Cat Care: Arthritis.” http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/arthritis.html
Cat Channel. “Arthritis: What You Can Do At Home.” http://www.catchannel.com/vetlibrary/article0007.aspx
YouTube: “Cat Acupuncture by Dr. Barbara Royal.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY6juePCNtI&feature=related