Cat Arthritis TreatmentHelping your cat live well with arthritis
Treatment for Cat Arthritis
If your feline friend is suffering from cat arthritis, the next course of action is treatment that could include things such as joint supplements. Arthritis is an irreversible disease and there is no cure. But don’t despair, there are things that can be done to slow it down and to control pain.
With any cat arthritis treatment plan, discuss your options with your veterinarian. The severity of your cat’s arthritis, discomfort level and other health issues will be taken into account. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian any goals, limitations or lifestyle considerations that may come into play for your cat’s treatment.
Treatment for feline arthritis is similar to that of dogs. We have simplified a few options for you in a simple guide below.
At Home Therapy and Simple Remedies
Cats with milder arthritis symptoms do well with this option. These are also “foundation” therapies that can be built upon as your cat ages and pain control needs change.
Joint supplements are the cornerstone of cat arthritis treatment. Joint supplements can contain a variety of ingredients, depending on the manufacturer.
Natural oral joint supplements.
For cats, these are often in powder or liquid form that is easily mixed into food for dosing. The most effective should include:
- Chondroitin sulfate
- Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3, Omega-7)
- Fish-based or plant-based are both available for cats
- Vitamin C supplements
- Antioxidants, such as avocado oil extract
Ramps can help arthritic cats as they help to:
- reduce use of stairs
- reduce the need to jump up or down
Different grooming techniques and pet supplies
- Soft brushes instead of hard bristles for grooming
- Spend more time grooming your cats – as cats become uncomfortable, they can’t groom themselves as effectively. Matted fur can harbor bacteria and lead to skin infections.
- Check nails often and trim as needed every 4-6 weeks
- Overstuffed orthopaedic memory foam beds
- Cat Flap Check – ensure that the cat flap (cat door) is easy to pass through for indoor-outdoor cats
- Easy Access Litterboxes – as your cat ages, it may need a different type of litter box. Select a litter box that has low sides as they are easier for your cat to step in/out of. No cover is also preferable – the cover can hinder posturing and make toileting more difficult for an arthritic cat.
- Gentle massage
- Healthy weight management – talk to your vet about your cat’s weight. 2/3 of pets are reported to be overweight or obese. Create a weight loss plan if needed.
All-Natural, All the Way
It is easy to build upon ‘at home’ cat arthritis treatment such as joint supplements with additional all-natural treatment options.
The first step is to visit a holistic veterinarian. Holistic vets are specialized in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) and employ herbal therapy, food therapy as well as acupuncture.
Cold Laser Therapy
Many veterinarians, mainstream and holistic, use cold laser (low-level) in their daily practice as part of cat arthritis treatment. These therapy machines have been shown to improve mobility, reduce inflammation and relieve pain in cats with arthritis.
Physiotherapists or rehabilitation technicians are often on staff with veterinary surgical centres and veterinary colleges. Electrotherapy, therapeutic ultrasound, massage, range-of-motion exercises and even hydrotherapy are often offered. Hydrotherapy? For my cat?! You bet. Some cats enjoy spending time in warm water and it helps their joints to feel better to boot!
East meets West – Integrative Therapies
Integrative cat arthritis treatments combine the best of both worlds – both holistic and conventional pharmaceuticals.
Cats are very sensitive creatures and must not be treated in the same way as small dogs. Some drugs that are commonly used in dogs to treat arthritis should not be used in cats.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are very inexpensive and effective, but should be used very cautiously in cats. Please consult with your veterinarian regarding NSAID therapy. Just because your dog takes Rimadyl does not mean that your cat can! Side effects can be serious and often involve damage to kidney function.
Metacam (meloxicam) is labeled for long-term use in some countries, as long as it is dosed appropriately. It works very well in controlling pain and inflammation associated with feline arthritis. A more recent NSAID is Onsior, but it is not labeled for long-term use.
If your cat has very severe arthritis, it may be worthwhile to use an NSAID long-term for quality of life reasons. If long-term NSAIDs are used, bloodwork needs to be monitored every 3-6 months as part of your cats arthritis treatment plan.
Narcotics like Buprenorphine and Tramadol are used in cats with severe arthritis. They are often preferred over NSAIDs in cats for pain control.
A more unusual drug, Gabapentin can be compounded for cats with severe arthritis. This drug combats how the brain perceives pain and can be used in combination with other drugs.
Quality of Life
We want our furry family members to live as long as possible, as comfortably as possible. It is amazing how quickly you can see a difference in your cat after starting specific cat arthritis treatment. Even a joint supplement once a day can make all the difference.
Written by Dr. Deborah Shores. Deborah is a qualified veterinarian with a B.S. in Animal Science from Berry College and a D.V.M. from Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. When not working hard in the clinic Deborah spends time with her cat Piper