Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that leads to pain in the affected joints. It occurs when the cartilage that lines the joints wears away, and it can be debilitating for sufferers. You probably already know that people can get arthritis as they age, but your elderly cats are also at risk. In fact, 90% of cats who are 12 years of age or older show evidence of arthritis! Fortunately, treatments are available to make your cat more comfortable. Here are three treatment options for cats with arthritis.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Glucoasmine and chondroitin are two natural substances that are used together to treat arthritis. The former is derived from the shells of crustaceans, while the latter comes from cow cartilage. Glucosamine and chondroitin aren't arthritis cures, so your cat will need to keep taking them indefinably for continued symptom relief.
Glucoasmine helps your cat's body produce glycosaminoglycans, substances that are used to make new cartilage. New cartilage helps to cushion your cat's sore joints. Chondroitin helps to reduce the levels of enzymes that break down cartilage, which is why it's taken in conjunction with glucosamine.
People with arthritis take both of these medications, and it's safe to give your cat these human supplements. However, cat-specific supplements are often flavored to make them more interesting to cats.
Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat pain in people, but veterinarians also use it to treat pain in cats. It's not a cure for arthritis, but it can help your cat be more comfortable.
If your cat needs to take aspirin, make sure to follow your vet's dosage instructions carefully, as too much aspirin can lead to an overdose. To prevent stomach issues, aspirin needs to be taken with food. Try hiding the pill inside a tasty piece of cheese or wet cat food to make your cat more willing to eat it, then feed them their regular meal afterwards.
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that can reduce the pain in your cat's joints, though like aspirin, they can't cure arthritis. A high dose is given at first to get the symptoms under control, then the medication is tapered to the lowest effective dose. These drugs will need to be given indefinitely to keep the arthritis under control, but if the pills are hidden inside tasty treats, your cat won't mind the routine.
While corticosteroids can cause serious side effects in people, this isn't a major worry for cats. Cats are resistant to the side effects of corticosteroids, so side effects are uncommon. Diabetes is the most common side effect, but it usually goes away once the drug is stopped.
If your cat has arthritis, take them to a veterinarian like one from Groves Veterinary Clinic for treatment.