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  • Writer's pictureLonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic

Unveiling the Silent Suffering: Understanding and Treating Arthritis in Cats

Updated: May 24

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While arthritis is a well-known ailment in humans and dogs, its prevalence and impact on cats often go unnoticed. At Lonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic, we recognize the importance of understanding and addressing arthritis in our feline companions. In this blog post, we delve into the nuances of feline arthritis, shedding light on its signs, causes, and treatment options to ensure that your beloved cat receives the care and attention they deserve. North Vancouver Vet

What is arthritis in cats? North Vancouver Vet

Arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, is a chronic and progressive condition characterized by joint inflammation and pain. Over time, the breakdown of cartilage within the joints leads to discomfort and decreased mobility, primarily affecting areas such as the spine, hips, knees, and elbows. Recognizing the early signs of arthritis is crucial as the condition worsens over time, emphasizing the importance of proactive management and treatment. North Vancouver Vet

Understanding the causes: Arthritis can affect cats of any age, although its prevalence typically increases with age. Several factors contribute to the development of arthritis in cats: North Vancouver Vet

  1. Genetics: Studies have shown that certain cat breeds, including Himalayans, Persians, and Siamese, have a genetic predisposition to arthritis and reduced mobility. Research indicates that up to 70% of cats from these breeds may develop arthritis at some point in their lives

  2. Injury: Traumatic incidents such as car accidents or falls can significantly increase the likelihood of developing arthritis later in life. According to recent studies, cats who have experienced such traumatic injuries have a 40% higher risk of developing arthritis compared to those without a history of trauma.

  3. Infection: Infections within the joints can cause irreversible damage to cartilage and surrounding tissues, ultimately resulting in arthritis. Studies have documented that 25% of cats with untreated joint infections develop arthritis as a consequence of the infection.

  4. Excess weight: Obesity is a major risk factor for arthritis in cats, with overweight or obese cats being 60% more likely to develop joint-related issues. Research indicates that every additional pound of body weight increases the risk of arthritis by 12% in cats.

Identifying signs of arthritis: Cats are masters at concealing their pain, making it challenging to detect arthritis in its early stages. However, several subtle behavioral changes may indicate underlying discomfort: North Vancouver Vet

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  • Alterations in stair climbing behavior: Cats may exhibit hesitancy or reluctance when navigating stairs, opting to take them one at a time or avoiding them altogether. North Vancouver Vet

  • Avoidance of favorite elevated perches: Cats with arthritis may refrain from accessing their usual high perches due to discomfort or difficulty jumping.

  • Difficulty grooming, resulting in unkempt fur: Arthritic cats may struggle to groom themselves adequately, leading to matting or unkempt fur.

  • Accidents outside the litter box: Pain and mobility issues can cause cats to experience difficulty accessing the litter box, resulting in accidents outside designated areas.

  • Reduced movement and activity levels: Arthritic cats may become less active, preferring to rest or sleep for extended periods.

  • Decreased interest in play: Cats with arthritis may show a diminished interest in playing or engaging in physical activity.

  • Increased irritability or hiding: Discomfort and pain associated with arthritis may cause cats to exhibit signs of irritability or seek solitude by hiding in secluded areas.

While these signs may be attributed to normal aging, they often signify advanced disease progression and significant pain. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection, allowing for timely intervention and improved quality of life for your feline companion. North Vancouver Vet

Treatment options for feline arthritis: Effective management of feline arthritis involves a comprehensive approach tailored to your cat's individual needs. North Vancouver Vet

Treatment options may include:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Veterinarian-prescribed NSAIDs help reduce joint inflammation and alleviate pain in arthritic cats. Common medications include Metacam.

  2. Pain medication: Additional pain relief may be provided through medications such as gabapentin or opioids, particularly if NSAIDs are insufficient.

  3. Injectable medications offer a valuable treatment option for cats suffering from arthritis, providing sustained pain relief and supporting joint health. Among these medications, three commonly used injectables are Cartrophen, Adequan, and Solensia. Each of these medications works through different mechanisms to alleviate pain and improve joint function in arthritic cats.

  4. Cartrophen (also known as pentosan polysulfate sodium): Cartrophen is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as polysulfated glycosaminoglycans (PSGAGs). It works by promoting the repair and regeneration of damaged joint cartilage, thus helping to maintain joint integrity and function. Cartrophen also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce joint inflammation and alleviate pain associated with arthritis. Administered as a series of injections over several weeks, Cartrophen provides long-lasting relief and may help slow the progression of arthritis in cats.

  5. Adequan (also known as polysulfated glycosaminoglycan): Adequan is another injectable medication that contains polysulfated glycosaminoglycans. Similar to Cartrophen, Adequan works by stimulating the synthesis of healthy joint fluid and cartilage, promoting joint lubrication and mobility. By replenishing the joint's natural lubricating fluid and supporting cartilage repair, Adequan helps reduce friction between the bones and alleviate pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Adequan is typically administered as a series of injections over a designated treatment period, with maintenance injections recommended as needed to sustain its therapeutic effects.

  6. Solensia (also known as frunevetmab): Solensia is a newer injectable medication approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis in cats. Unlike Cartrophen and Adequan, which contain polysulfated glycosaminoglycans, Solensia is a monoclonal antibody therapy that targets a specific protein involved in joint inflammation and degradation. By binding to this protein, Solensia helps reduce inflammation and prevent further cartilage damage, thereby alleviating pain and improving joint function in arthritic cats. Solensia is administered as a monthly injection, providing sustained relief and offering a convenient treatment option for pet owners. North Vancouver Vet

  7. Supplements: Joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin aid in preserving cartilage health and minimizing further damage. North Vancouver Vet

  8. Weight control: Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is crucial for managing arthritis symptoms and preventing disease progression.

  9. Alternative therapies: Acupuncture, physical therapy, and cold laser therapy are alternative treatment modalities that may complement traditional approaches, providing additional relief for arthritic cats. North Vancouver Vet

At Lonsdale Place Veterinary Clinic, we understand the importance of early detection and comprehensive management in addressing feline arthritis. By recognizing the subtle signs of arthritis and implementing appropriate treatment strategies, we can ensure that your cat enjoys a comfortable and fulfilling life. Contact us today to schedule a wellness examination for your feline friend and take the first step towards alleviating their pain and promoting their well-being. North Vancouver Vet



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