WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
The terms arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD), are often used interchangeably, and each indicates an inflammation of the joints. Although many things - such as injury or infection - can cause arthritis, most cases are simply due to aging.
The shoulder, elbow, hip and knee are the most frequently affected. However, all joints, including those of the spine, can be involved. Obese cats tend to be especially prone to arthritis, as excess weight places a greater strain on joints.
Most geriatric cats will experience some degree of arthritis and exhibit symptoms including stiffness, pain and loss of muscle. Arthritis is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms usually worsen with age.
SIGNS YOUR CAT MAY HAVE ARTHRITIS
- Stiffness, limping or favoring a limb - particular after sleep or resting
- Altered gait (the way your cat walks)
- Muscle atrophy (reduction in the size of the muscle) in the affected limb
- Difficulty getting up after lying down
- Inability to jump up (onto a chair or windowsill) or negotiate stairs
Arthritis and its accompanying symptoms are not life threatening, but they often worsen throughout your cat's life. Many cats simply live within the limitations caused by arthritis. For many, treatment can improve their quality of life.
We recommend starting with:
- Feline Omega Benefits - liquid added to food daily. Decreases inflammation in joints and body.
- Feline Osteo - treat form given daily. Stops degeneration of joint surfaces. If very painful, can add.
- Gabapentin - pain medication, in treat form, given daily.
HELPING YOUR CAT DEAL WITH ARTHRITIS
You can also do a lot in your home to help your arthritic cat access her favorite spots comfortably. Make sure food bowls are easily accessible. Choose litter boxes that are large, easy to get in and out of, and place them in the living area where your cat spends the most time. For instance, if your cat dwells mainly on the first floor, don't put the litter box in the basement. Use a pet ramp or stair steps to help her access a favorite perch or warm space. Try to make the basics of your cat's life as simple as possible.