What Are Some Common Symptoms Of Cat Arthritis
Cat owners often wonder how to tell if a cat has arthritis. Sometimes the symptoms will be obvious, and other times they may be nearly undetectable. Check out this list of symptoms to see you see any of these signs of arthritis in cats:
- Trouble going up or down stairs
- Difficulty or reluctance to jump up or down
- Limping or stiffness in the legs, particularly after periods of rest
- Hiding or sleeping more than normal
- Difficulty using the litter box
- Grooming themselves less
Contrary to popular belief, OA can happen in cats of all ages, not just seniors. While none of these symptoms on their own are a definitive diagnosis of osteoarthritis, they are definitely worth getting checked out, no matter how old your cat is.
Arthritis & Degenerative Joint Disease In Cats
26th July 2018
It is well recognised that as humans get older they are likely to suffer from joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. It is also well known that older dogs commonly suffer from arthritis and both owners and vets are familiar with the medication dispensed to relieve their pain.However, until relatively recently, arthritis in cats was not commonly diagnosed or treated. This may be due in part to the cats survival instinct to hide signs of pain, and the lack of recognition of the condition by owners and veterinary surgeons.
Life Changing Tips For Cats With Arthritis
Arthritis in cats is severely under-diagnosed, and part of the reason for this is that cats are masters at hiding the signs of pain. In one published study, 60% of cats over the age of 12 years old had some form of degenerative joint disease. It is now common knowledge that Arthritis is very common in cats, and affects their hips, elbows, knees and ankles.
Signs of Arthritis in cats may include reduced mobility reduced activity , altered grooming and a change in temperament . Again remember that these signs can be very difficult to see, and many owners do not notice the difference until there is an improvement after treatment.
Treatment varies from cat to cat and includes pain relief, anti-inflammatories, acupuncture and modifying the cats environment.
If your cat has already been diagnosed with arthritis and is receiving treatment, you may already be seeing the benefits or improvement after treatment has commenced. As with humans, the cold winter months can exacerbate the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis, so it is important to provide our arthritic cats with a little extra care and attention. Below are some important management steps to include when caring for your cat this winter:
We offer a nurse-led arthritis clinic to help you provide the optimum care for your cat.
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What Adverse Effects Should I Look Out For
Licensed NSAIDs have been shown to be safe for use in cats. Some are only licensed for short term use, others for use over longer periods. However, adverse effects can still occur. Most are mild, but some can be serious as in other species they may involve the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, cardiovascular system or liver. Adverse effects may lead to a number of signs including:
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowing of the skin, gums, or whites of the eyes
Acupuncture And Laser Therapy
Acupuncture helps restore the bodys natural balance by sending signals through the tissues and the nerves to the spinal cord and brain. This releases chemicals that signal the body to react. These signals have systemic effects, including a release of metenkephalin, B-endorphin, dynorphins, and opioids, and increased serotonin levels.
Laser therapy can also be beneficial. Laser therapy produces anti-inflammatory effects by using light to send chemical signals to body tissues. This relieves pain and is a therapy thats well-tolerated by most cats.
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Beware The Placebo Effect
Visit our page on knowing which pet medications work and youll see a study on arthritis treatment in cats. It showed that cat owners were unable to tell the difference between real effects and caregiver placebo effects during a treatment trial.
If we dont recognise the problem, many cats will end up on unnecessary drugs. There are two ways to combat this unconscious bias:
What Does Gabapentin Do For Cats
Gabapentin is used as a pain medication for chronic pain and, sometimes, to help calm down frightened cats.
In cats, gabapentin is most often used as a pain medication for chronic pain, such as from arthritis.
Gabapentin has also been recognized to be beneficial in reducing the fear responses that a kitty may have to the stress of handling and being examined at the vet.
Its common for vets to prescribe a single dose of it to be given a couple of hours prior to veterinary visits to provide some sedation and help examination and handling to be less stressful for certain patients.
Anecdotally, it also appears to help keep some cats much calmer for car or plane travel and may be recommended to help make longer trips less stressful.
Studies have not shown gabapentin to be as effective for acute pain in cats as some other medications like buprenorphine, and so it is less commonly prescribed for a sudden onset of a painful condition, or after surgery.
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Watch Your Cats Behavior
Seeing one or more of these signs may indicate that your cat is in pain. It is useful to remember that cats do feel pain, but because they are both predators and prey, they will not readily show signs that they are in a state of pain and distress. Therefore, it is important to keep a close eye on them.
It pays to observe your cats behavior. Most owners are familiar with their cats behavioral patterns and can quickly tell if there is a problem. If something is wrong, then you should take your cat to a veterinarian especially if the condition is persistent or gets worse.
Can Metacam For Cats Help Treat Arthritis
That has changed with the introduction of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called meloxicam in a formulation licensed to treat cats with arthritis or other causes of chronic pain. Marketed under the trade name of Metacam for Cats, it comes as a liquid that can easily be administered orally once a day, using a specially marked syringe. It is one of the products that was formerly available only in a canine formulation, but had been used quite widely off-licence in cats. The feline product is significantly less concentrated than the canine one, so can be dosed more accurately. This is important, as if it is over-dosed, there is a significantly greater chance of developing side effects, particularly vomiting or diarrhoea.
It is gratifying that we now have another effective feline product in our armoury to help control what we now know to be a very significant cause of chronic pain in cats.
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Corticosteroids For Your Cats Pain
You can use corticosteroids to help treat your cats pain. These include cortisone, prednisone, and/or methylprednisolone. Because pain is usually associated with inflammation, these drugs are effective because they treat both conditions at the same time. However, they do have side effects if given on a repeated basis, long-term.
Opioids for Severe Pain
Veterinarians use opioids routinely for the control of acute pain. They are best used in the hospital setting to control severe, acute pain. There are not any good options for the control of pain in the home setting, particularly on a long-term basis.
Alternative PainRelief For Cats
Some of you may opt for a more holistic approach to treating your cats discomfort. You might be asking yourself what cat I give my cat for pain relief? and you wish to keep it natural.
Some research suggests that cannabidiol may provide comforting relief in humans and dogs.
However, there is a possibility that CBD may inhibit some drug interactions. Therefore, if your cat is already taking some type of medication, it is best to seek advice from a vet in order to avoid any complications. If your cat is not on any medications, CBD can be a viable option to address feline discomfort.
What Can I Give My Cat For Arthritis Pain
Arthritis in cats or feline rheumatoid osteoarthritis is a disease that can affect felines of any age, whether they are puppies, youngsters or adults. Cats, like us, can suffer from many diseases that are related to the joints, such as feline arthritis.
Arthritis is a very common problem in our felines, this disease reduces their mobility and causes pain, in most cases it is due to our cats being overweight, or it can also be caused by injury, infection or development problems. The most common arthritis is called osteoarthritis, which is the wear and tear of the articular cartilage or the formation of bone tumors within the joints of our felines and this over time can lead to a reduction in joint mobility and cause a lot of pain to the cat.
Natural anti-inflammatory for cats
The use of human drugs can be very dangerous for our pets if they have not been prescribed by the veterinarian, in the same way, many veterinary drugs, despite having been administered correctly, can carry different side effects in their attempt to treat any of common diseases for cats.
If this is the case, you should know that there are several natural anti-inflammatories for cats, some very simple, but no less effective for that. See what they are:
With a thermal bag or a hot water bottle, you have an anti-inflammatory for your cat. When we apply local heat to the affected area, the blood vessels dilate, which reduces inflammation and relieves pain very quickly.
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The Many Natural Remedies To Choose From
Thankfully, you can bypass all of the harsh conventional treatments out there if you provide your cat with the right combination of natural remedies that can help the body heal when arthritis takes hold. Here are some natural options to treat your cats arthritis:
Devils claw is an herbal remedy thats prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain. Its often used when pets are diagnosed with arthritis, but it shouldnt be given if your pet is diabetic.
Pau DArco is an herbal remedy thats known for relieving the pain caused by arthritis, which can promote mobility if your pet is having trouble getting around.
Turmeric is another commonly prescribed herbal remedy for animals suffering with arthritis because it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Its also a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the liver and protects against myriad diseases.
Please note, all natural remedies should still only be used under a veterinary professionals guidance. Many herbs can have alternative side effects if not dosed properly depending on your cats age, weight, and health conditions.
Arthritis In Back Legs
Arthritis can affect any part of a cats body, but its common in the legs. When cat arthritis occurs in the back legs it can greatly limit your cat’s mobility. In some cases, cat arthritis can cause lameness where the cat will begin limping or favoring one leg when they walk. Many times, this causes the cat to become much less active and spend more time resting.
A licensed veterinarian can help determine if your cat has arthritis in their back legs and help put together a treatment plan.
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Symptoms Of Arthritis In Cats
Signs of arthritis in cats can include:
- Difficulty jumping or using the stairs
- More prominent shoulder blades
- Hiding away or sleeping more than usual
- Unkempt or matted fur especially along the back and around the bottom, because your cat will find it difficult or painful to twist to groom these areas
- Swollen or hot joints
- Being a bit more grumpy than usual, especially when you go to touch them.
Signs of arthritis can be hard to spot as they can be subtle and come on gradually. It can be helpful to think back to what your cat was like a few months or even years ago when trying to think if they are showing any of these signs.
Give Your Cat A Comfortable Bed
- Place a selection of beds around your home for your cat to choose from. Remember to put them at several at different heights, your cat may not be able to jump as high up as they used to.
- Orthopaedic memory foam beds can be really comfortable for cats with arthritis.
- A heated bed can naturally help sooth your cats joints.
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Gabapentin As A Controlled Substance
Within the last couple of years, gabapentin has become a controlled, scheduled substance in the United States and Europe.
Because of restrictions imposed by controlled status, your veterinarian may not be able to prescribe gabapentin for your kitty without an examination, and recheck exams may be needed for refills. An exception may include prescribing it in advance to help with sedation for an exam, but a telemedicine consult may still be required.
You may also find that because of the additional record-keeping and restrictions, that your vet office may not carry gabapentin, and may alternatively provide a prescription to pick it up at a local pharmacy, instead of at the office itself.
What Are The Alternatives To Pain Medicine For Cats
An appropriate diet can go a long way in relieving chronic inflammation and pain in cats.
For example, many overweight cats suffer from arthritis. Giving them food that has a reduced caloric density with normal amounts of protein will help them lose weight while still allowing them to retain muscle mass and strength.
Excess body weight not only puts undue stress on arthritic joints, but it also promotes the inflammation that is at the heart of the disease. Foods or supplements that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid can also reduce joint inflammation and the pain associated with it.
Pain meds are not the only, or sometimes even the best, way to provide a cat with pain relief. Talk to your veterinarian to determine what combination of diet and other forms of therapy might be right in your cats case.
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Signs Of Arthritis In Cats
Cats tend to hide signs of pain quite effectively, which makes sense if you consider their ancestry. A sick animal in the wild is vulnerable to predators, so any sign of weakness must be hidden. This instinct makes it difficult for owners to know their cats is affected and whether treatment is necessary.
Observe your cat for any change in behavior or activity. If an older cat is more hesitant to climb stairs or jump onto a bed or table, it may be suffering from feline arthritis.
A cat with arthritis also may stop using the litter box, as climbing in and out causes pain. If you notice your cat reduces or limits its grooming this may also be a sign of arthritic joints movements that were once routine are more difficult and painful.
Watch for changes in your cat’s gait. If it looks like it’s doing a “bunny hop” or otherwise moving differently than usual, chances are it’s trying to find a comfortable way to move around without causing more stress on the arthritic body part.
If you are in doubt about whether your cat is in pain, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian, who will assess the cat and provide suggestions on how to help manage the pain.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is In Pain
It can be extremely difficult to tell if your cat is in pain. They tend to hide that fact from their owners. This may cause you to overlook certain telltale signs. Additionally, there are many different types of pain states, broadly divided into acute and chronic. An example of acute pain would be an injury or bite wound your cat suffers. An example of chronic pain would be arthritis, which is extremely common in cats.
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What Is Feline Osteoarthritis
Feline osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is caused by the wearing away of joint cartilage . Without this cushion, adjacent bones are able to rub against each other, resulting in debilitating pain.
The disease most commonly affects the hip, knee, ankle, and elbow joints in cats. And while the root cause of osteoarthritis in cats isnt always known, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons says that injuries, abnormally shaped joints, and normal, everyday wear-and-tear can be to blame. Sadly, the condition is incredibly common. In a 2011 study, 61% of cats ages six years and older had X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint, and 48% were affected in more than one joint. The study also found that disease prevalence increases with age. In other words, the older your cat gets, the more likely it is that she will have at least one arthritic joint. However, even young cats can be affected.
Weight Control And Diet
Weight control is the single most important strategy in the management of arthritis in cats. Extra weight results in increased stress on the joints and also makes cats even less likely to move around! Fat also releases inflammatory mediators which can contribute to inflammation in your cat’s body.
Just like for humans, weight control relies on diet and exercise. There are numerous low-calorie diets available in both wet and dry varieties – and even special diets with joint care ingredients. Always keep in mind that a weight loss diet requires consistency and must be fed exclusively without tidbits or leftover table scraps.
With regards to exercise, keep in mind that your cat’s joints are sensitive and minimal weightbearing movements are ideal. Playing is the best form of exercise for cats, and you may need to find what types of play your cat will tolerate. You can try to encourage your cat to move with teasers, laser pointers, or chase toys.
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