Sunday, October 10, 2010
As cats age they may get feline osteoarthritis, also known as feline or cat arthritis. A cat that is overweight can develop osteoarthritis. Feline osteoarthritis can be difficult to diagnose as a cat’s instinct leads them to attempt to hide their infirmity. (Any signs of weakness can lead to a lion’s place in a pride being compromised.) Osteoarthritis affects the cartilage and soft tissue around the joints. Cartilage is the natural shock absorber of an organism, and is made of protein. It’s like an airbag for your joints. Arthritis causes cartilage to deteriorate from around the joints. If left untreated, the bones can begin to rub against each other, and bone thickening or bone spurs may result. The symptoms are varied and may not be something you might associate to arthritis. While feline arthritis is not curable, it is manageable and you may be able to prevent it in your cat.
Some cats slow down as they age. If your cat isn’t one of those but they are exhibiting some strange behaviors and you are concerned there may be something wrong, here are some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A cat may sleep more often and pick lower places to sleep. They may not cover leavings in the litter box, and if the box is too tall for them to easily climb into they may have an accident outside the litter box. Your cat may not want to jump up to high vantage points like they used to. Their leg muscles may look thinner or less filled out than they used to; this is called muscle wasting.
Was your cat an extrovert at family gatherings until recently? Do they shy away from your other pets or family members? If your cat’s appetite has changed, be aware that cats don’t eat when they don’t feel good. If they would rather be a couch potato all day, your cat may have feline arthritis.
By giving your kitty a premium quality natural cat food like FELIDAE®, and making sure they get daily exercise with a toy to chase or a lively game of fetch, you can lessen their chance of getting osteoarthritis later in life. If your cat is overweight, you should speak with your veterinarian about the proper way to help them lose weight healthily. Try using a shorter litter box and put a small rug or litter mat under the box to catch any accidents that may happen. Lowering food and water bowls for easier access will help keep your cat’s appetite up and may reduce muscle wasting. Using a thick waffle foam bed that will keep your cat off the cold floor, a bed with a back to block drafts, or using a heated bed or pet-approved heating pad under their bed can ease any aches and pains associated with feline osteoarthritis.
If you visit a holistic practitioner, ask them what methods of alternative treatments have worked for cats with osteoarthritis. See my article on treating canine arthritis for a list of alternative therapies to consider, such as massage, acupuncture and laser therapy. Your veterinarian may prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They help reduce joint swelling, increase mobility and relieve pain, but should not be used unless prescribed by your veterinarian. Surgery may be suggested depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis. Whatever course you choose, be sure to consult with your veterinarian prior to treatment.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently