Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Basic Tips for Caring For A Cat With Arthritis

If your cat is getting old (or even if it isn't), then sooner or later you may notice that it starts limping, has trouble climbing steps, avoids jumping down from anywhere, and gets upset if picked up or handled roughly. Possibly upset in a 'suddenly turn around and take a couple of fingers off' way.

Arthritis gets a LOT worse in the cold. My cat Moss started limping in winter, every winter, from around six or seven years old (she is now over thirteen). It got gradually worse, and finally was making her very unhappy - and very difficult to brush, because her joints were so painful. And then summer rolled around, and suddenly she was tearing all over the house and playing happily again.

The cat asleep next to the oil heater.
She makes a great footwarmer.
1. Warmth. Arthritis gets a lot worse in the cold. Give your cat somewhere warm to spend most of the time. I posted about the cat bed I was given before, which was great. Sadly, it was ancient and has since died, but it's now cold enough to light the fire and run heaters around the house, so she spends a lot of time trying to merge with those.

2. Glucosamine tablets can be fed daily in food (it's also used to treat arthritis in humans). It can be a bit pricey though - and it's a long way to a pet store from where I live, so - while I do see improvements - tip 3 takes up the slack.

3. Fish oils. The omega 3 fatty acids in cold water fish (e.g. salmon and tuna) help with arthritis. I share a can of tuna with her once or twice a week (we get half each - works out well, as I'm only cooking for myself!), and I saw a huge improvement once I started doing this.

You can't cure arthritis in your cat, but you can make the symptoms go away. This last winter I've been treating her with the tips above - and nothing else, and she's been happy and bouncy all through (occasional limping moments and she hates going out into the cold, but otherwise very well off).

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