If it is not cured, osteoarthritis in cats can be delayed, slowed down or relieved by taking the right steps. Simple reflexes that make it possible to offer your companion the best possible comfort of life, from food to adaptation to his environment.
Treat the cat’s diet in the face of osteoarthritis
A quality diet adapted to your animal allows above all to control its weight, an aggravating factor in osteoarthritis in cats. Both obesity and overweight can both promote the onset of the disease and accelerate its progression by increasing stress on the joints. At the same time, a cat suffering from osteoarthritis tends to move less, promoting weight gain. In prevention as in treatment, weigh or have your pet weighed regularly by your veterinarian, in order to adapt the rations or food according to the variations.
- For a cat of normal weight, choose a balanced diet of quality, adapted to the breed and the age of the animal.
- If your cat is overweight or obese, implementing a suitable diet will reduce the load on the joints.
In either case, set the animal’s diet on the advice of your veterinarian. He alone is able to establish the quantities necessary for his well-being and to advise you on specific foods. He can also refer you to dietetic foods that facilitate weight loss or specially enriched for cats with osteoarthritis. There are also food supplements, based on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which aim to strengthen the joints.
Cat arthritis: maintaining physical activity
Essential to maintaining weight, physical activity is just as essential for the joints, even in cases of osteoarthritis in cats: it helps to preserve their flexibility and the muscle mass that surrounds them. However, a sick feline tends to avoid movements that make it suffer, sometimes without other visible pain symptoms. To maintain a minimum level of exercise, offer him moments of play and stimulate him with his favorite accessories.
However, it is difficult to force a cat to exercise if he has decided otherwise. If you have a blockage, talk to your vet. The refusal or restriction of movements can in particular indicate a strong pain, which must be taken care of to maintain the comfort of life of the animal. They may also suggest other ways to prevent the disease from getting worse in the absence of physical activity, for example through rehabilitation aimed at reducing pain and restoring muscle mass.
Adapting the environment of a cat suffering from osteoarthritis
Redesigning the living environment of a cat with osteoarthritis is essential to maintain comfort and relieve pain. Study the different accesses to its preferred locations, in order to adapt the height. Whether it’s the litter box, bedding, or the cat tree, pain can cause your cat to abandon their favorite spots if they become inaccessible to them.
- Choose a low-sided litter box to make it easier to access. A cat that defecates outside of its litter box often indicates that it is difficult to step over it. The principle is the same for his basket, if he has one.
- Place ramps, chairs, ladders or boxes to make it easier for him to reach his favorite spots. You can also rearrange the layout of your furniture to create staircase effects.
- Adjust the height of its bowls to prevent it from leaning over when they are placed on the floor.
Comfort is just as important in the case of osteoarthritis of the cat. Cold, drafts or hard surfaces can accentuate the joint pain and stiffness of the animal upon awakening. Provide a comfortable bed, placed in a warm place away from drafts. There are memory foam cushions and baskets, which reduce pressure points and promote muscle relaxation. Do not hesitate to multiply the cushions and blankets in his favorite places, in order to arrange several places for him to rest.
Massage and brushing to relieve osteoarthritis in cats
A cat with osteoarthritis may have difficulty grooming. In this case, his hair is less smooth, duller, sometimes unruly. While most cats don’t like baths, brushing is an easy way to help them maintain their coat. In addition, there are dry shampoos designed for felines. Consult your veterinarian to choose a suitable product.
Massage and flexion / extension exercises can also be a solution to relieve pain and maintain joint flexibility. If your pet can’t stand being touched, on the other hand, don’t risk it, the pain could make him aggressive.
Osteoarthritis in cats is a degenerative disease that can seriously impact its quality of life. Complementary to the medical care put in place by your veterinarian, these few good habits allow you to maintain your comfort and well-being as long as possible.
Article reviewed and validated by veterinarian Dr. Michèle Gorissen
To read also: Osteoarthritis of the cat: prevention, symptoms and treatment