by Amy Reichert, RVT,CCRA-pending
Does your older cat walk differently or have trouble jumping up on things? Does she seem less interested in play or grooming herself? Is she having trouble using her litter box? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your cat might be showing signs of arthritis, a painful joint disease that will progress as your cat ages. The most common site of arthritis in cats is in the elbow joint but it can occur anywhere, including the spine, hips, and tarsi (ankles). Only your veterinarian can diagnose this disease, so if you suspect your cat might be affected, make an appointment to have Kitty evaluated. The good news is that there are many options available to treat arthritis and to help your cat live a happy—and comfortable—life. Here are our Top Five Tips for helping arthritic kitties:
1. Lose Weight!
Just like dogs and humans, carrying around excess weight can be very painful for your cat, especially if that weight is putting more pressure on an arthritic joint. It can make it even harder to jump on the bed or squat to use the litter box. Before embarking on a weight loss strategy for your pet, ask your veterinarian to help determine the best weight for your cat and to assist you with devising an appropriate diet plan.
2. Rehabilitation Therapy Rehab for Cats?
While not every cat will enjoy a dip in the underwater treadmill (although some do!), there are many other exercises and therapies that cats respond quite well to, including massage, laser therapy, acupuncture, and pulsed electromagnetic therapy. At Scout’s House, we can develop a home exercise program for your cat to help maximize the benefits of therapy throughout the week. And most exercises are a great way to play with your cat while helping her feel better. Win-win!
3. Modify His Environment
You may have noticed that your cat has trouble jumping up onto surfaces that were once easy for her to get to. While you might appreciate fewer footprints on the kitchen counter, it’s not at all fun to find accidents outside the litter box. If other medical reasons have been ruled out by your veterinarian, you can give your cat better access by choosing a large litter box with low sides or a model with a small ramp to get in. Those with high edges can be difficult for an arthritic cat to jump in and out of, which is why cats often choose an easier place to do their business—like your favorite rug. Other home modifications that many cats appreciate are steps to get up onto the bed or their favorite windowsill.
4. Help with Grooming
If your cat is having trouble grooming due to arthritis, you can help by brushing her once a day. If she’s a long-haired breed, you may want to enlist the help of your vet or a professional groomer to prevent or remove matting, large tangles of fur that can be painful if not addressed. (Do not attempt to shave or remove mats yourself as you could accidentally cut your cat’s skin.) Regular brushing will help prevent the formation of mats, requiring fewer trips to the groomer.
5. Medications and Supplements
Your veterinarian can determine if medication is appropriate for your arthritic cat and which drug is right for him. NEVER give your cat any human or dog medication unless specifically instructed to by your vet as many medications that are safe for humans and dogs are very dangerous to cats. Just one dose can be fatal.
Also talk to your veterinarian about which supplements can be helpful for your cat. We’ve seen great results with Dasuquin for Cats (see accompanying article) with our own felines, but your veterinarian might have other suggestions for you.
The Wonders of Dasuquin for Cats
By Lisa Stahr
Everyone acknowledges penicillin as the Miracle Drug. But if you own an older, arthritic cat—or one who suffers from repeat urinary tract infections, or UTIs—Dasuquin for Cats is your own personal Miracle Drug.
Trust me on this. I started using Dasuquin for Cats on my two kitties with paralyzed rear legs because animals who can’t walk frequently get UTIs. And G, the eldest, had multiple UTIs before I got him. So I started him on Dasuquin for Cats as soon as I adopted him and he’s had one UTI in seven years—and that’s only because I ran out of Dasuquin for a couple of days! That’s why I’m a big believer in this supplement, not only for cats like G, but also for cats with arthritis (which is almost any older cat). It works as many miracles for arthritic kitties as it does for felines with UTIs—I saw the proof of that with our 3-legged black cat Nick, who was still jumping up on things when he died at 21 despite having arthritis in his one front leg.
From Nutramax Laboratories, the same people who brought you Cosequin, Dasuquin for Cats is more than just a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement: it inhibits the expression of several agents that break down cartilage using a powerful cocktail of ingredients, all that are safe for cats and proven to improve joint function and comfort levels.
Dasuquin for Cats also replenishes the compounds that are found in the cells in the inner lining of the bladder, strengthening the bladder lining and improving bladder health in cats.
So if you have an arthritic or UTI-prone kitty, do Fluffy a favor and give Dasuquin for Cats a try. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am.
Do You Know About Amazon Smile?
We have a soft spot in our hearts for Scout’s Animal Rehab Therapy Fund, the nonprofit that underwrites the cost of rehab therapy for pets from low-income families, for assistance dogs,K9 Unit dogs, and animals in the care of rescue groups and shelters.
So we want to tell you about a super easy way to help Scout’s Fund while shopping online:
Use Amazon Smile.
Amazon Smile is the same as Amazon—same products, same prices, same service. The only difference is it donates 0.5% of the price of all your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice when you shop there.
We’re amazed at how many people haven’t heard about Amazon Smile, so we encourage you to bookmark the page (instead of the regular Amazon page) and do all your buying there.
And of course, you can designate any charity as your recipient, but we encourage you to consider Scout’s Animal Rehab Therapy Fund. We can’t think of an easier way to help animals in need live longer, more comfortable lives.
Patient of the Month: Gallagher
This month we celebrate Gallagher, our 2000th patient since opening our doors in 2005. Thank you, Gally, for trusting us with your care—and thank you to all of the 1,999 dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and rats who came to Scout’s House before Gallagher. We love you all!