To keep your arthritic cat comfortable they do need a bit more TLC. You will need to think about environmental changes, their diet, and weight as well as provide pain relief. Make sure to have their nails clipped regularly and assist them with careful grooming.
Ensure soft, comfy beds are easily accessible in a quiet, safe locations. Keep beds, food, water and litter trays easily accessible, avoiding stairs if possible. Many cats get fed on a worktop which can be tricky to reach for an arthritic cat and can lead to unhealthy weight loss. Move the bowls to floor level or introduce steps to allow easier access. Make sure their litter tray(s) are easily accessible, open top ones with a low ledge are preferred. Cat flaps can become tricky for arthritic cats and they will often spend more time inside as a result so make sure they have access to a litter tray if not already present in the house. Allow easier access to preferred areas such as windowsills and sofas by using ramps or other items as ‘steps’.
Diet and weight
Maintaining an optimal weight for your cat is a vital part of managing OA. Obesity makes OA worse due to the increased weight placed on the joints, whilst body fat itself can contribute to inflammation. Your Vets4Pets team will work with you to devise specific dietary guidance for your pet.
Joint supplements such as essential fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin can be of benefit for cats with OA by providing the raw materials necessary for their body to try and maintain cartilage and joint fluid. These can be found added to specific joint diets or can be given as a separate supplement. Speak to your vet for more advice.
Most cats with OA will at some stage benefit from the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (‘NSAIDs’) on a daily basis to keep them comfortable. Flavoured tablets and palatable solutions are available which make this quick and easy to do.
There are other drugs which control pain but these are usually prescribed either in addition or instead of NSAIDs depending on the specific case.
You might also hear of other pain relief techniques such as acupuncture or laser. Evidence that these methods work is limited and we would always recommend discussing other options with your vet.