Cat arthritis is a progressive disease characterized by the inflammation of the joints. It tends to be a chronic condition and its symptoms recur, becoming more severe over time. Cat arthritis usually appears in older or geriatric cats but it can also develop in younger pets. It's not very common, but it can be a very uncomfortable, even debilitating disease among our feline friends.
There are several types of cat arthritis that your pet might develop. These include:
This is the degenerative form of cat arthritis, a chronic condition that results from joint fatigue or wear and tear of the cartilage that protects the surface of the joint. When this happens, bones grind against each other and later becomes damaged from the friction. This usually appears on the shoulders and elbows.
This usually results from a sprain or joint injury. Trauma or damaged sustained from accidents, falls, even fights can injure the joint and promote the development of cat arthritis.
This type of cat arthritis affects several joints at once and symptoms tend to worsen as the disease progresses. This results from the erosion of the protective cartilage, exposing the bones.
Another factor that may lead to cat arthritis is a congenital joint problem, something that your cat was born with and will suffer from by virtue of his genes. Obesity may also contribute to the wear and tear of the joints due to excessive weight.
Symptoms of Cat Arthritis
Cats usually exhibit the signs and symptoms of cat arthritis when the disease has already progressed, which makes it difficult for us to detect the condition in its early stages. However, it's good to note any changes in your cat's behavior especially if he or she is advancing in age. Cats with arthritis also show limping or joint stiffness. They will be reluctant to move or play and will often resist touch especially if it involves the affected area. Since the condition is quite painful, cats often show signs of irritability.
Is Prevention of Cat Arthritis Possible?
It's difficult to prevent cat arthritis caused by age or at least to predict whether a cat's breed or size will contribute to the development of this disease. What is important is that the cat is treated when signs appear. Do not try unproven treatments or supplements without first consulting the veterinarian. Prompt diagnosis and proper care are best.
Treatment for Cat Arthritis
It is unclear whether cat arthritis may be prevented but it may be prudent to ensure that your cat is not overweight. Try to keep a balanced diet to ensure that your cat is well-nourished but that he does not gain too much weight. Proper exercise is also key to help cats maintain their weight so make sure your pet has enough opportunities to participate in physical activities.
An early diagnosis of cat arthritis will be an important factor in helping minimize symptoms and prevent further damage. Regular medication may also be prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation. Some of the most common include painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which are strictly available through prescription only. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which show promise in helping in the development and repair of cartilage, may also be used.
Certain medications, such as Adequan, may be injected into the affected area in order to bring about relief in severe cases. Some medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids which are used to reduce inflammation and minimize pain, are used sparingly. The limited use is due to their side effects, especially to cats with liver, kidney or heart disease.
Consult Your Veterinarian
Once your cat has been diagnosed with arthritis, never, under any circumstances, try to treat the condition on your own using common painkillers. Aspirin, for example, may be tolerated in small doses, but cats lack the natural enzyme with which to process aspirin in their bodies and may not be able to excrete the drug efficiently. Other painkillers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen may even be fatal to cats.
For severe cases of cat arthritis where joint malformation is already evident, surgery may sometimes be recommended. If the pain is untreatable, some owners may even choose to euthanize their pet in order to prevent further suffering.
Cat arthritis tends to be a life-long condition and it is often best to seek the help of a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment if only to help prolong your cat's life. Try to keep your cat as comfortable as possible and be aware of any symptoms or side effects that treatments may produce. No one else can come to your cat's rescue except for you, so it's best to be fully aware.