Cats are natural athletes who dare to do stunts without any safety harness or nets. Had there been an animal Olympic event, they would have definitely won all the golds in gymnastics. Nevertheless, agile and brave no doubt, but cats do suffer from wear and tear of the bone joints. It is heart rendering to see our dear felines suffer due to arthritis, as most of their physical movements become restricted due to rickety joints. Many times the owners are not aware of the signs of arthritis setting in, and by the time they realize it, the damage is already done.
Arthritis refers to the inflammation of joints that connects two bones together. As the joints and tendons deteriorate, the cartilage covering it reduces. This causes the bones to rub against each other, thus leading to inflammation and pain. Though cats are not susceptible to arthritis as commonly as humans, there are a few who can develop it. Therefore, it is very important for the pet owners to know more about this condition and its treatment. (Note: Arthritis is in no way similar to rheumatism.)
Of the different types of arthritis that may affect cats, the most common types are traumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis. Traumatic arthritis can be attributed to a sudden impact caused by an accident with a moving vehicle, fight with other cat, or an awkward fall. This may result in a minor sprain and cause pain for sometime. In case of severe impact, it may lead to fractured bones. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is very common in older cats. The shoulder and elbow joints are commonly affected in this type. Dislocation of the joints and past traumatic experiences may lead to wear and tear of the joints and tendons. As obese cats are more likely to suffer from arthritis, you need to ensure that you give your cat a well-balanced diet.
Signs and Symptoms
Cats developing arthritis may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Stiffness in limb
- Avoiding stairs
- Reluctance to jump
- Sleeping more than usual
- Difficulty in grooming
- Swollen or enlarged joints
- Lack of appetite
- Visible pain and discomfort in your cat.
- Discomfort worsening in cold climate.
- Less interaction with humans and other pets
- Urinating and defecating outside litter box with high sides.
- Avoiding covering the feces or urine with the sand in litter box.
- Muscle wasting as a result of which the legs may appear thinner than normal.
- After the cat gets up from its sleep or resting position, it may favor a particular limb for support.
Arthritis is not a curable disease; its treatment primarily revolves around the management of pain and inflammation of the affected joints and tendons. This is usually done by using non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs don't just help in reducing the pain, but also help in increasing the mobility of the joints. Glucosamine and chondroitin help in enhancing the formation of cartilage and inhibiting the enzymes in the joints that break down the cartilage.
Additionally, you can provide a heating pad to the cat; either apply it on the affected joint or place it under the bed on which the cat sleeps. The cat's bedding should always be warm and free from any kind of cold drift. You should never give your cat arthritis medication meant for humans. Always speak to your vet before resorting to any supplement. In the case of a traumatic injury, the vet may recommend a surgery.
In some cases, acupuncture has been very useful in relieving arthritis pain and inflammation in cats. You should only visit a qualified person, if you want to go for this method of treatment. As for natural methods of treatment, introducing nettles, alfalfa, and garlic in the cat's diet can be of some help.
Arthritis can be a restricting disease for agile and flexible cats. You should provide ample care and love to your cat. More importantly, you should always speak to a vet before trying any new medication or therapy for the treatment of this condition. Cats are natural athletes; proper care will make sure they hold the title for life.