Saturday, March 6, 2010

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has Arthritis?

Cats are experts at hiding pain, but that doesn't mean they're not feeling it. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common and often painful condition that can be especially difficult to detect in cats. It involves damage and thinning of the cartilage that lines the joints, which may lead to the following behavior changes in your kitty:

Hesitancy or difficulty jumping onto furniture, cat trees, window ledges, etc.
Trouble getting into and out of litter box
Drop in overall activity

Daily Habits and Behavior
Decrease in, or difficulty with, grooming
Loss of appetite
Sleep disturbance (sleeping more, or less)
Tendency to hide

Comfort Level
Limping; appearing stiff; exhibiting lameness (not common)
Showing discomfort when stroked or brushed
If you notice any of the above, have your pet checked out by a vet with whom you can discuss the following options:

Management and Treatment Options for OA
Home modifications: Put food, water bowls, and bedding in easy-to-reach places so your cat won't have to jump; build ramps or stairs leading to favorite perches; and use a litter box with low sides.

Medication: Ask your vet if meloxicam (shown in one study to improve OA symptoms), glucosteroids (to reduce inflammation), or a pain killer might provide some relief for your kitty. Never give your cat any type of over-the-counter human medication, including aspirin, which can be fatally toxic to cats.

Weight control: Overweight or obese cats may be at higher risk of developing OA. Your vet may recommend a gradual weight loss plan for your kitty. Rapid weight loss can be dangerous.
Homeopathic options: Inquire about moderate exercise, acupuncture, underwater or standard physical therapy, or supplements like chondroitin or glucosamine.
Diet: Specific brands of cat food that contain glucosamine or other ingredients may aid your kitty's joint health. Check with your vet.

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