Treatment of osteoarthritis in cats
It is critical to break the osteoarthritis vicious cycle of pain and disability in the older cat. It is very important to know that feline arthritis is a lifelong disease that cannot be cured only managed.
The vicious cycle of arthritis in cats
But arthritis pain does not need to be part of the normal aging process for your cat and it is very possible to improve his or her quality of life by improving mobility using a multimodal approach:
1- Modify the environment of the arthritic cat: move the furniture or provide ramps or steps for cats to gain access to preferred height, the litter box or the feeding site. Encourage more activity by providing toys, cat towers and playing with the cat.
2- Pharmacological pain relief: Non steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) are often the first drugs used by veterinarians. However, most of those products cannot be used on a chronic basis due to toxicity problems as the cats have limited enzyme systems responsible for metabolizing them. There is also some concern to use drugs in older cats in which chronic kidney disease is common. Some of those drugs can even be fatal and should never be used without close veterinary supervision. Furthermore we all know that it is sometimes difficult to administer oral conventional medications to our feline companions.
3- Oral nutritional supplement: Natural treatments are used to reduce pain and inflammation and nourish and heal the cartilage of cats with arthritis. More and more feline practitioners and holistic veterinarians are now considering oral nutritional supplements as their first choice for treatment. Complementary therapies can also be used to decrease the need for conventional pharmacological treatments.
Chondro-protective supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid supply the building blocks for cartilage growth and help the cartilage rebuild and repair itself.
Oral fatty acid Omega -3 DHA and EPA are anti-inflammatory. As the Omega-3 incorporates into cells that make up synovial membranes and other joint-related structured membranes, they will decrease the magnitude of inflammation at that site and promote its resolution. The benefits of the treatment of pets and humans have been demonstrated in several studies. Depending on the severity of the arthritis we recommend a dose of 8 or 15 mg DHA per kg of body weight daily for the life of the cat.
4- Other non-pharmacological pain relief modalities: acupuncture, chiropractic, laser therapy and physical therapy can all be used on cats as long as the patients are willing to cooperate.