Their survival instinct makes them especially adept at masking pain and illness. Therefore, osteoarthritis in cats is an underdiagnosed pathology. According to radiological studies, 90% of cats over 12 years old suffer from it .
The elbow, knee, and hip joints feel thickened and hard to the touch. The feline feels pain and before the discomfort to move it prefers to reduce its level of activity and interaction with its family. Do you think your pet can suffer from osteoarthritis?
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Feline osteoarthritis, a chronic disease
Osteoarthrosis is a degenerative and irreversible joint pathology that significantly reduces the quality of life of the cat. The cartilage that covers and cushions the joint wears away leaving the bone exposed. It can affect one or more joints.
Sometimes new bone forms around the edges of the joint, while other times the joint space is reduced. Osteoarthritis can be primary (caused by bone free of previous malformations or trauma) or secondary (caused by trauma, fracture or dislocation).
Causes of feline joint degeneration
Genetics, trauma and acromegaly are the most prominent propitiatory factors for osteoarthritis. Obesity, rather than as a direct cause of feline osteoarthritis, acts as a coadjuvant, favoring its development. If the cat is obese, it should lose kilos progressively to prevent hepatic lipodosis or the accumulation of fat in the liver.
Certain breeds are more prone to osteoarthritis. In this sense, the Maine Coons have hip dysplasia, the Burmese, osteoarthritis in the elbows, and the Abyssinians, patella luxation.
The blows or fractures force the cat to modify its point of support when moving. This fact over time degenerates into secondary osteoarthritis in the joint victim of the trauma.
This rare disease is caused by a hormonal imbalance and usually causes diabetes and, occasionally, osteoarthritis.
How does it manifest?
All the symptoms of this pathology without cure have pain as the protagonist, limiting their movement, their daily cleaning and disturbing their character and mood. Consequently, we can list the following as indicative of feline joint degeneration:
- Your pet does not explore or play because of the inconvenience caused by going up and down stairs, jumping, sitting up or walking.
- Certain accidents may occur due to the difficulty of accessing the sandbox.
- His walk seems stiff and forced, he may even limp at intervals.
- Your appetite decreases.
- Ditch her daily grooming wearing knots or a dull coat. Equally, you can become obsessed with the hygiene of the affected joints.
- He’s grumpy and elusive, even when you pet him.
- Starts to sleep in new places, like the ground, because of its easy access.
- His nails are very long from lack of activity.
If there is no cure, can it be treated?
The approach to this pathology seeks to alleviate pain and raise the quality of life of the animal. For this, the treatment is based on a specific diet , on the intake of anti-inflammatories and on the adoption of certain changes in the handling of the feline. Some of these changes will require adjustments in your home to facilitate access.
When treating, in general, elderly cats tend to coexist with other diseases that complicate treatment. Consequently, it is appropriate in these cases for the veterinarian to perform a physical examination, several x-rays, a biochemical examination of the blood and a urinalysis. Additionally, a hematology can also be carried out.
The purpose of the biochemical examination of the blood is to test the state of the liver and kidneys, the urinalysis to assess the density of the urine and with it, the functionality of the kidney in order to refine the choice of suitable drugs.
If your cat is in this situation, the vet will prescribe a moist diet, with plenty of water to avoid dehydration and accompanied by supplements enriched with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids (to reduce inflammation), glycosaminoglycans, antioxidants, methionine, manganese and selenium for promoting the synthesis of cartilage.
Although they have not yet been tested in cats, supplements based on chondroitin and glucosamine have been shown to be very effective in regenerating cartilage in dogs, horses and humans. Therefore, they can be positive in cats whose osteoarthritis is incipient or mild.
The only drug licensed to be administered is meloxicam. However, it is contraindicated in hypotensive kittens, with kidney or liver failure, as well as in those suffering from an episode of diarrhea, dehydration or vomiting.
The opioids buprenorphine and gabapentin are not licensed, but they can be effective when meloxican has not worked. They are usually administered sublingually. Corticosteroids are discouraged due to their side effects, being diabetes one of the most prevalent.
Remember, never medicate your cat without the supervision of your veterinarian
Accompanying actions related to food and medication, it will also be necessary to accommodate the home so that it is easier for your pet and, therefore, less painful to travel:
- You should provide a soft, low bed without drafts. Cardboard boxes and igloo beds make these cats feel more comfortable and secure.
- The sanitary tray must be low or without sides, as well as the feeder and the drinker. All of them should be at the same height and if possible at ground level.
- Place ramps to facilitate access to your cat’s favorite places that are in the heights.
- If there is a cat door, it must be raised so that the cat only has to push to enter or exit.
- Go for fine-grained sand when filling the litter tray. Your aching feet will thank you.
- Take care of his grooming by brushing and sanitizing his eyes and perianal area.
As you can see, osteoarthritis in felines is a disease that demands a comprehensive action to promote their full well-being . After the common experiences that you have lived, in this final stage your love and attention are all that your pet needs, don’t you think?
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