Risk Factors Of Arthritis
- Old age. Older cats are at a much higher risk of getting arthritis. However, younger cats can also acquire the disease.
- Breed of the cat. Purebred kitties are more likely to suffer from arthritis than their mixed bred counterparts.
- Overweight or obesity. Kitties whose body weight is higher than the recommended weight are very prone to joint disease. The extra weight put on the joints increases the wear and tear applied to them resulting in an increased risk of arthritis.
- Overmedication. A lot of medications that are prescribed especially in chronic diseases can trigger inflammation in the body.
- Previous joint injury. A tear in joint cartilage can cause faster degeneration at that particular joint.
- Physical trauma. The cat being in an accident would be an example for physical trauma.
- Genetics. Cats whose parents had arthritis are at a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Poor diet. A bad diet tends to be high in pro-inflammatory substances which can cause chronic diseases like arthritis.
Understanding The Driving Force Behind Cat Arthritis: Inflammation
Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of the joint, is a slow and progressive disease with many causes that affect the ENTIRE JOINT . One of the largest driving factors for the development of arthritis is inflammation. It doesnt matter where in the body it occurs or the cause. And one of the most significant causes of inflammation in a cat is obesity.
One of the most important things you can do is help prevent and control inflammation in your cat’s body. Here are a few ways to do this:
The sooner you detect a condition that causes inflammation, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or kidney disease, the sooner it can be addressed and treated. With a thorough examination and history, and certain laboratory and other diagnostic tests, your veterinarian can thoroughly and fully evaluate your cat for the presence of conditions that could be causing your cat pain or other problems.
Many cat owners hesitate to bring their cat to the vet due to the stress they feel it causes. Here are some tips to help lessen the stress of a vet visit for your cat:
Also speak with your veterinarian to see if they recommend a calming sedative for your cat.
Fight The Fat: Dietary Modification
Long-term studies done by Purina have shown that skinnier dogs live longeron average by 1.4 yearsand have less osteoarthritis. While these studies havent been done in cats, we veterinarians know that keeping your cat trim helps minimize the risk of medical problems like diabetes mellitus, arthritis, pancreatitis, cardiac problems, and more.
Thats why its important that you work with your veterinarian when it comes to getting your cat to be an ideal body weight. Most cats should be 9-10 pounds. If your cat is 12-14 pounds, it doesnt sound like that muchonly 2-4 poundsbut that could mean he is over 10-20% of his ideal body weight and is actually overweight or obese. Check out a great chart on ideal body weights for cats here.
Youll also want to make sure that your cat is on both an appropriate diet and an appropriate amount of food. The biggest mistake I see people making is feeding their cat for their cats current weightnot the ideal body weight.
Another tip? Consider breaking up the amount of food into several smaller meals by using cat food puzzles. Not only will this slow your cat down while eating, but itll also provide some environmental enrichment.
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When You Should Start Giving Your Cat Supplement
A healthy cat eating quality food does not need any dietary supplements.
However, as soon as you notice decreased mobility in your cat, you need to make a trip to the vets office. If your cat is diagnosed with arthritis, your veterinarian will recommend adding joint protectants to the arthritis management strategy.
Joint supplements act in the long run and do not offer immediate relief. That is why they are used in combination with painkillers. In most cases, it takes them between four and six weeks to achieve mobility improvement.
Keep Your Cat At A Healthy Weight
While your pudgy cat may look adorable to you, youre not doing him any favours by feeding him extra kibble at mealtime. One of the best ways to prevent arthritis is keeping your cat at a healthy weight. Unlike other risk factors, such as genetics, your cats weight is in your control.
Keeping your cat at a healthy weight helps prevent cat joint pain because it alleviates strain and pressure on joints. Most cats should weigh between 7-12lbs, depending on the cats frame.
Perhaps the most obvious way to keep your cat at a healthy weight is to avoid overfeeding. Some cats can self-regulate their food intake, while others will eat everything you set out. Know which type of cat you have and feed accordingly.
If you have a cat who is slightly overweight or likes to indulge, try to keep mealtimes to twice daily. You can work with a vet to identify the amount of food required to maintain your cats weight.
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Is Arthritis Common In Cats
We have traditionally believed that arthritis was uncommon in cats because they do not often show the long-term signs of lameness that other species, such as dogs, demonstrate when they are affected. But we now know that arthritis is common in cats – about 20 per cent of the whole population, and a much higher proportion of elderly cats, show signs of arthritis when their joints? are radiographed.
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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Home Adjustments For Cats With Arthritis
There are also several simple adjustments you can make to your cats home environment to increase her comfort if she has osteoarthritis pain. Login suggests providing:
- Warm, supportive bedding
- Easy access to litter boxes and food and water bowls
- Ramps or stairs to help your cat access the bed or other furniture and surfaces she enjoys
- Raised food and water bowls so your cat doesnt have to bend down
- Litter boxes with at least one lowered side so your cat doesnt have to lift her legs as high to get in
Create A Safe Environment
We all know the saying, curiosity killed the cat. Cats like to explore, so its our responsibility as pet owners to make sure theyre exploring safely.
Providing a safe environment for cats helps them avoid dangerous situations and injuries that may make them more susceptible to developing arthritis down the line. In particular, cats are known to sustain injuries falling from high places, such as off balconies or out windows.
Theres even a name to describe the dangerous injuries cats often face when such a fall occurs: cat high-rise syndrome.
Lets try to avoid that.
Block off any areas that are too high for your cat to safely jump from, and be sure to keep your cat indoors and away from open windows. Providing your cat with a cat tree can help satisfy their itch for adventure and height without placing an undue burden on their joints.
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Specialty Cat Diets For Joint Health
Speak with your veterinarian about prescription joint/mobility diets specifically formulated to help your arthritic cat. The prescription weight loss diets for cats can help, and there are a few to ask your veterinarian about. Hills has a specific mobility support diet for cats called k/d+Mobility. There’s also Royal Canin’s Mobility Cat Food, designed to prevent crystals as well as maintain weight.
Signs Of Osteoarthritis In Cats
Cats dont show pain like we expect them to. Its part of their nature to be subtle, says Joyce Login, DVM, CPH, Veterinary Medical Lead, Chronic Pain Portfolio at Zoetis. If they were to show pain in the wild, theyd be somebodys lunch, so theyre very good at hiding it.
But that doesnt mean its impossible to spot. While your cat isnt likely to limp or cry out in pain, Login says you can watch for these behavioral signs of osteoarthritis in cats:
- Difficulty jumping up on furniture
- Difficulty jumping down from furniture
- Difficulty going up and down the stairs
- Difficulty chasing moving objects
- Difficulty running
- Inappropriate elimination
- Increased irritability
These changes in behavior can be easy to dismiss as normal aging or even to miss altogether. Because cats hide their painespecially in the veterinary clinicyour observations from home are a crucial part of diagnosing arthritis in cats. If that feels like a lot of pressure, Login has some tools to make your job easier.
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What Is Arthritis In Cats
In simple terms, arthritis is inflammation of the joints. The condition is characterized by tenderness at the joints sometimes accompanied by swelling. Arthritis is a chronic disease and very rarely can a cat recover from it completely.
The pain in the joints can be caused by different factors the most common of which being joint cartilage degeneration. In a healthy joint, the bone is surrounded by cartilage to minimize friction as the body makes movements around the joints.
In old age, if you pair this cartilage degeneration with the reduction in synovial fluid, you get a result of very painful joints. Synovial fluid is a liquid that lubricates joints.
You can imagine how painful it would be to experience friction in your joints every time you move. To make matters worse, arthritis usually affects more than one joint. Forty-eight percent of arthritic cats have arthritis in more than one joint.
Identifying The Cause Of Your Cat’s Mobility Issue
Lots of problems can underly your cats behavioral and mobility changes, and its important to work with your veterinarian to determine which ones are at play in your cats specific situation. Arthritis is certainly one of the most common, but it isn’t always the culprit. Other potential causes might include degeneration or weakening of their nerves , muscle weakness and muscle mass loss, luxating patella, or even a torn cruciate ligament.
On the other hand, it isnt always an orthopedic or neurologic condition thats hindering your cats mobility. A decrease in their vision, such as that associated with high blood pressure resulting from hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or one of many other conditions, can easily affect your cats behavior, mobility, and activity level. Similarly, the cause could be pain unrelated to their muscles, joints, or bones common problems include inflammation of or a mass associated with one of the organs within their abdomen , or even something as simple as an overgrown or ingrown nail.
Concerned that your cat might be in pain? Here are some things you can look for to help you determine if your cat might be suffering in silence from the pain of arthritis, or any of a host of other painful conditions.
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Understanding Cat Joint Health
Normally, in healthy cats, the cartilage acts like a buffer that prevents bone friction and enables smooth gliding.
If the buffer is damaged or starts degenerating, the two bone surfaces forming the joint will rub from each other, resulting in pain and inflammation.
The pain is mostly accented when the cat is moving. In fact, joint health decline is the most common cause of reduced cat mobility.
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.
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Cat Arthritis Treatment With Medication
The mainstay of arthritis treatment in humans and dogs is with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , painkillers that reduce inflammation in joints. Common veterinary NSAIDs include aspirin, carprofen , meloxicam and deracoxib . Of these, only aspirin is generally considered safe for long-term term use in cats, and the wisdom of using it is still debated among veterinarians.
Cats lack an enzyme system in the liver to metabolize most NSAIDs, and are extremely prone to toxicity from them. Aspirin, when used, must be used at low doses. Its usually given only every 72 hours even then, toxicity can still occur. Some cats do not tolerate aspirin, and large numbers of cats get no significant clinical benefit. Meloxicam was once touted as safe for cats. It was widely used until large numbers of adverse reactions were reported and the labeling was changed.
In short, NSAIDs arent especially practical for use in feline arthritis. However, there are some options.
Joint Supplements For Cats
*NOTE* DO NOT give human joint supplements to your cat, as they may contain ingredients harmful to your pet and may not actually contain the correct amount of each listed ingredient. Only use veterinary-formulated joint supplements for your pet.
Cosequin for Cats Soft Chews
PRO TIP: Choosing between chewable or powder supplements depends on your cat’s preferences. If your cat is picky but gobbles down their wet food, powder might be best. If they are used to taking treats and aren’t too finicky, the chews might be your best bet.
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What Is The Best Treatment For Arthritis In Cats
The best treatment for cat arthritis is one that uses a comprehensive approach to addressing your cats specific needs. This involves considering the cause of your cats arthritis, the age of your cat, your cats medical history, and more.
Treatment may include supplementing your cats diet, making environmental modifications, and in some cases, surgery. You should work with your vet to identify a holistic arthritis treatment plan based on your cats specific needs.
Feed Your Cat Supplements
We mentioned supplements before when discussing the prevention of cat arthritis. Supplements can also help manage your cats arthritis if your cat is already suffering from it.
Vets often refer to supplements as nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals can be either dietary supplements or prescription food diets that contain active ingredients. You want to find a supplement that includes the following key active ingredients:
- Hyaluronic acid
We discussed the benefits of the first three ingredients above. The newest addition, hyaluronic acid, is vital to supporting your arthritic cat. Hyaluronic acid is found in cartilage and synovial fluid and helps keep your cats joints lubricated.
Together, these active ingredients help with cartilage development and maintenance, as well as reduce inflammation and manage pain.
So, where do you find such a supplement? Weve got you covered.
Meet TRI-ACTA H.A., our maximum strength pet supplement. This supplement contains a higher dosage of active ingredients to protect your cat against further cartilage deterioration.
Our supplement also includes hyaluronic acid, which improves the viscosity of synovial fluid around your cats joints.
Using TRI-ACTA H.A. to treat your cats arthritis is as simple as mixing the recommended dose into your cats food at mealtime.
Cat eats food. Cat hurts less. What could be better than that?
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Prescription Medications For Cat Arthritis And Mobility Issues
Prescription medications often play an important role in pain management for mobility-restricted cats. The specific medications needed and the degree to which your cat might need and depend upon them is different in each situation, and will likely change over time and as some of the supplements discussed above are added in. What is also very important to note is that pain relieving medications should only be given to your cat under the guidance and recommendation of your veterinarian. Continued use of these medications will require bloodwork every six months to monitor their effect on your cats body.WARNING: Do not administer your own pain medications, or even pet aspirin to your cat without first speaking with your veterinarian. Many well-intentioned cat owners have inadvertently injured their cat or complicated their care by administering over-the-counter or human-prescription medications to their cat. Please do not do this, always speak with your veterinarian first.
Managing Your Cats Arthritis
There are a number of options worth exploring when caring for a cat with arthritis. In addition to traditional medicine, there are other ways you can modify your homes environment to create a more comfortable space for your feline friend. While they may not be preventative measures in the sense of stopping the advancement of your cats arthritis, you will be improving his overall quality of life while also inhibiting further damage from this debilitating condition.
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