How to manage feline arthritis?

Feline arthritis could be what’s making tubby’s limp! Yes, it’s painful but the condition can be managed and it is possible for your cat to regain a good degree of mobility.

Can your cat develop it?

Feline arthritis is an affliction seen mostly in older cats. Cats are generally very agile but even these nimble creatures are vulnerable to accidents, injury and age.

As the cat ages, the cartilage in its joints wears out. When the cartilage becomes thin, the bones in the joints begin to rub against each other. This causes pain and inflammation.

The most common kinds of arthritis in cats include:

    Traumatic arthritis: Caused by sudden injury or trauma

    Osteoarthritis: Mostly affecting the shoulder and the elbows. It is commonly caused by the wearing away of joints and bones. Fractures and dislocations too may lead to osteoarthritis.

Symptoms:

Many owners simply interpret their cat’s problems as a natural ‘slowing down’ process that is associated with age. Cats may not really show symptoms of pain which makes it difficult to detect feline arthritis in the beginning stages.

However, common symptoms include:

  • Low levels of activity
  • Swollen joints
  • Behavioral changes, like resentment in being handled
  • Reluctance to run and jump
  • Lack of appetite
  • Defecating outside the box particularly if the sides of the box are high
  • Legs may appear thinner than before because muscles are wasting away

Just as in human beings, arthritis in cats is a painful condition. Therefore, any of the above signs and symptoms must be taken seriously.

So, take your cat to the vet if you detect any of these symptoms. The sooner you know, the sooner you can start treatment.

Before diagnosing feline arthritis, vets run tests like radiographs and ultrasounds. This is because symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other conditions.

Routine blood tests may also be needed. These tests not only help in ascertaining the condition but also help doctors determine the best medication for the cat.

Managing feline arthritis:

The first step is to consult a vet and to start administering the prescribed medication as recommended. Treatment methods generally depend on the severity of the case and the cause of arthritis.

Medications generally consist of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines. However, depending only on medicines to manage arthritis is shortsighted.

Other measures: Put your cat on a diet so that it can lose any excess weight. Diet control helps weight management. Losing weight will greatly reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis.

Regular exercise also helps manage the condition, even though imposing exercise on a cat is difficult. Food supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin also help as these are substances that are naturally present in the cartilage of the cat.

These substances can help the cat reconstruct its joints and get back a greater degree of mobility.


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