Managing Feline Arthritis

Feline arthritis occurs mostly in older cats. As your cat ages, the cartilage in his joints can deteriorate, causing the bones to rub together painfully. Feline arthritis can be very painful, especially in overweight cats, but with proper management, your cat can regain most if not all of his former freedom of movement. Here's how you can manage your cat's feline arthritis.

Symptoms of Feline Arthritis

Cats suffering from joint problems such as arthritis will lose their former agility and no longer be as nimble as they once were. Cats with arthritis may show joint stiffness and begin limping. Symptoms may be mild at first, and worsen as the disease progresses. They may exhibit stiffness when rising from a reclining position or when lying down. There gait may change; they may appear to be in obvious pain; they may even display personality changes due to the stress of arthritis pain.

Symptoms of cat arthritis will often worsen during cold or damp weather. Some cats may compensate for joint pain and stiffness by changing the way they move. For instance, a cat may make several small jumps instead of one large jump. They may have difficulty squatting to relieve themselves, and become constipated; they may fail to groom themselves properly, or lose their appetite.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cat Arthritis

The symptoms of feline arthritis can be very similar to the symptoms of other disorders, so your vet will rely upon blood tests, radiographs, ultrasounds and other procedures to make a diagnosis. Your vet may suggest one of several forms of medical treatment to help manage your cat's feline arthritis symptoms.

Glucosamine and chondroitin form a major component of your cat's cartilage. These substances are produced naturally within your cat's body, but as he ages, his body becomes less able to make glucosamine and chondroitin. A food supplement, such as Synflex or Cosequin, can help reconstruct your cat's joints, and he can even regain his former mobility.

Omega-3 fatty acids can help lubricate joints and relieve pain and stiffness. Your vet may prescribe corticosteroids for the relief of your cat's pain. You can try a homeopathic remedy, such as ginger or tea tree oil, cayenne or calendula, to relieve your cat's inflammation and pain.

Other Methods of Managing Feline Arthritis

Along with food supplements and pain-relieving drugs, there are some other things you can do to relieve your cat's arthritis symptoms. First of all, if your cat is overweight or obese, do everything you can to encourage him to lose weight, as excess weight puts pressure on the inflammed joints. Since your arthritic cat may not enjoy much exercise, the best way to go about encouraging him to lose weight is to put him on a weight loss diet.

Some light exercise, however, can help keep the joints lubricated as well as help your obese cat lose weight. Make sure to respect your cat's limitations.

Make sure your cat has a warm spot to sleep, such as a heating pad. This can help relieve joint pain. Gentle, light massage can also help relieve the pain of sore joints and muscles.