When Arthritis Strikes: How to Help Your Older Cat
It’s well-known that dogs tend to suffer from arthritis as they get on in years, but cats generally refuse to show weakness, and older cats with joint pain are no exception. This means that arthritic kitties may not immediately get the attention they need. Once you realize that your older cat needs some pain relief, however, there are several ways you can help.Cats with arthritic joints may find it difficult to climb or jump, so make sure that there are sleeping places, food bowls, water and a litter box at ground level. Providing ramps can also help stiff felines access their favorite spots.
It’s important to control your cat’s diet for several reasons, but one of the most basic is to ensure that it’s not carrying too much weight on tender joints. Seek advice from your vet about the ideal weight for your cat, and manage food portions to help it get there.
Supplements that can help aching joints include essential fatty acids to reduce inflammation, and glucosamine and chondroitin to promote cartilage building. These supplements are very safe for cats, so think about adding them to your pet’s diet after discussing options with your vet. Many cat food supplements for older animals include some combination of these ingredients, so choose the one that seems right for your animal’s needs. Other homeopathic remedies can be used as well, such as St. John’s wort, Willow bark, and Cayenne pepper, but it is always wise to discuss these remedies with your veterinarian to ensure no adverse reactions occur.
Encourage gentle exercise and free joint movement by playing with your cat, but be careful not to encourage behaviors such as jumping that could jar the joints.
Massage or joint manipulation may help your cat be more comfortable almost immediately on treatment, though it is not a long-term solution. Talk to your vet about finding a local, trained practitioner for a session to see if it helps.
Acupuncture works for some animals as a support therapy for conventional medicine. This is still quite rare, though, so it may be difficult to find a fully trained animal acupuncturist who is local to you.
Talk to your vet about starting your pet on a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Use these drugs with caution, at the lowest effective dose. They manage both swelling and pain and can significantly improve an arthritic animal’s quality of life.
Spend time grooming your cat, including clipping its nails if necessary. Proper cleaning may be hard for an arthritic cat, and being pampered and gently stroked as you groom it adds pleasure to the experience.The sooner you can tell your cat is suffering, the sooner you can do something about it. Here are some ways to identify pain in animals that you might not have thought about before.