Since there is no cure, arthritis pain management is the most effective means in making your cat comfortable as he battles this painful disease. There are many things you can do to improve your cat's quality of life and even reduce the symptoms.
There are many types of pain killers available to ease the pain felt from arthritis. These are often used on an occasional basis, since long-term use can cause other health problems.
The most popular pain killer recommended for cats is Metacam. It's recommended by the FDA for one-time injections, but veterinarians have found it to be safe when given in a liquid form. Follow the dosage carefully, because only a small amount is needed to relieve pain.
For serious cases, morphine-like patches exist that reduce pain for three to four days, and IV drips are even available if pain needs to be managed at all times.
Most cats respond well to supplementation of glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine and chondroitin are present in healthy connective tissue and serve to protect the joints from painfully rubbing against one another, as happens in dysplasia. Studies have shown that when cats receive supplements, the body will begin to regenerate glucosamine and chondroitin, which reduces the symptoms of arthritis.
Supplements are often preferred to pain medication, because they're natural and have no known side effects. However, they take much longer to work, so you might not see the effects for a month or two.
For cats, sprinkling Cosequin on their food is a good means of adding these supplements on a daily basis.
Arthritis is only made worse by obesity, so watch how much you feed your cat. Providing a high-quality diet that contains mostly high-quality protein and no fillers, such as corn, wheat, meat byproducts and preservatives (which actually have no nutritional value) can help reduce weight. The fillers can't be digested and turn into extra weight in your cat's body. With high-quality food, you can feed less while providing more nutrients.
Though cats are more likely to jump and climb than dogs, limiting the amount of pressure they put on their joints is helpful. Select large litter boxes that are easy to access and place litter boxes and food bowls in an area easily accessible to your cat, without jumping or climbing stairs.
Put all toys and scratching posts low to the ground and make sure your cat has comfortable places to lie in the sun, where jumping is not required. Add ramps to favorite resting spots if necessary, and use treats to lure your cat up and down so he will know how to use it.
Add a heating pad placed on low and wrapped in a blanket to some of your cat's favorite resting places, so his joints will be soothed as he sleeps. If you see him trying to jump up or down somewhere, pick him up.
Steady, but not strenuous, exercise can also be beneficial. Spend some time playing with your cat with toys or taking him on a leash walk.
Though there is no cure, arthritis pain management is possible by making some simple changes in your cat's life.