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Treating Arthritis in Cats

Treatment Options for Cats with Arthritis

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Treating Arthritis in Cats

A successful treatment for a cat with arthritis will relieve the cat's pain.

Lorie Huston

Arthritis causes pain and relieving that pain becomes a major objective in the treatment of any arthritic cat. However, cats tend to hide the signs of their pain quite effectively, making it difficult to decide whether treatment is necessary. If you are in doubt about whether your cat is in pain, assume that he is and treat him.

Keep Your Arthritic Cat Lean

Allowing an arthritic cat to become overweight places additional strain on already painful joints. In addition, fat cells themselves secrete hormones that contribute to the development of pain.

Regulating your cat's diet and encouraging regular exercise are the best ways to maintain your cat's body weight.

  • For cats that overeat, rationing the amount of food given daily will be necessary.
  • Interactive play with your cat can encourage exercise. Experiment with different types of toys to find out which ones your cat prefers.
  • Food puzzles which require your cat to work to be fed are also a great way to encourage exercise and provide stimulation and enjoyment for your cat.

If your cat is already overweight, your veterinarian can help you plan a successful weight control program that will return him to his ideal body weight.

Pain Relief Medicines for Feline Arthritis

Some of the drugs that can be used to relieve pain for cats with arthritis include:

  • buprenorphine
  • tramadol
  • Fentanyl®
  • gabapentin
  • meloxicam (Metacam®)

A few words of caution about the use of Metacam® are in order. Metacam® is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication. Its usage in cats for the treatment of arthritis is controversial and off-label (being administered in a way not approved by the FDA). If your cat is being treating with Metacam®, it is important to make sure that your cat does not become dehydrated and is not suffering from kidney disease. If your cat begins to vomit, stops eating or develops diarrhea while taking Metacam®, discontinue the medication and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Other options for an arthritic cat include nutriceutical supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). These supplements help protect the cartilage in the joint.

Another medication that can be used to help protect the cartilage in the joints and promote joint health is Adequan®. Adequan® is an injectable medication that is quite effective for some cats. Finally, while not largely used in cats yet, stem cell therapy may be another option for your cat.

Alternative Therapies for Cats with Arthritis

There are a few alternative therapies that work quite well for some cats in reducing arthritis pain. These therapies include:

  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • hydrotherapy
  • laser therapy

In many cases, these medications and techniques can be combined to provide more effective pain relief for an arthritic cat. This approach is usually the safest method of treating feline arthritis.

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