“Just a Bit Stiff” Arthritis and Golden Oldies – Cats

Just a bit Stiff..

We have all heard or even said this about our pets. “Getting on a bit.. “Getting a bit slow..” and usually what we mean is that, there is nothing to be done, “Just old age”. Well there is good new and bad news for you. Read on ..

The Bad News

A cat that is stiff after a period of time spent lying down for example in the morning, or who limps on one or more legs on an ongoing basis, or can no longer jump up to the usual windowsill or chair, is a cat that is showing giveaway signs of arthritis. This is not the same as “Just old Age”. Why is it not the same? Because arthritis is painful. When your cat does not jump it is because it would cause pain. When she limps in the morning, it is due to aches in her joints. Joints do not get stiff without aches and pains accompanying that stiffness

The Good News

The Great News is that pet owners can do a lot to minimise the discomfort of arthritis , and at the same time your cat can resume enjoying some of her old activities, getting more out of life and even living longer as a result

What Can You Do?

Understanding: What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that occurs within one or more joint, such as the knee (stifle), hips, elbows or wrists and sometimes the spine. Inflammation means the usually smooth lining of the joint is red, roughened and thickened, and the joint fluid is thick and stodgy instead of smooth and silky. If you can visualise what is happening inside your cats joints, that will help. It happens commonly in the elbows and the spine of older cats, as they use these joints a lot for landing from a height.

Seeing the Bigger Picture

Getting your cat diagnosed with arthritis can be during a visit to your local vet. An xray is useful confirm the diagnosis and rule out other issues. Arthritis can be managed, not cured. But remember this is not the same as saying there is nothing to be done! Getting help early on can vastly improve your cats quality of life. TIP – remember to bring a blanket or towel from home and cover your cat carrier during the journey and while at the vets.

Management at Home

  • Weight management. A healthy weight is essential for any pet suffering with arthritis and has a bigger effect than any other measure.
  • Living Aids such as well placed stools , boxes and furniture to minimise injury and strain to joints from jumping up and down as well as an easily accessible soft place to lie.
  • Easy Access to food water and toileting. Make sure there are plenty of water bowls and extra litter bowls near where your elderly cat likes to spend the day, and ensure that they do not have to work hard to leap up to reach the food bowl.

Veterinary Medications

If your pet is in pain as described, then they require pain relief and this will be prescribed by your vet. There are a wide variety of medications available from injections to tasty syrups that both act as pain killers and to actively reduce inflammation. Your vet will help you find the one most suitable for your cat which is safe , effective and affordable longterm.

Most cats take these medications longterm so it is important to attend check ups with your pet to ensure that the medication is at the correct dosage and is working as well as it should be, as well as turning in urine or blood samples to make sure the medication is safe to continue.

Supplements and Which Ones to Choose?

Giving your cat Omega Oils is scientifically proven to work to reduce the effects of arthritis in the joint. Cats require a very concentrated dose and as many cats have sensitive bowels it is recommended to use an oil that is licenced for cats. Chondroitin and Glucosamine have no evidence behind them of any benefit to pets, they are expensive and added to many joint supplements, so are best avoided .

For more information see https://icatcare.org/advice/elderly-cats-special-considerations/

Mairead Kilbride Vet
Article By Mairead Kilbride MVB
Practice Principal.Petcare Vets Sept 2020

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