Eating, moving and sleeping are basic needs of all living things. To deal with osteoarthritis in cats, they need to be watched closely. Care adapted to the specificities of each animal makes it possible to improve their comfort of life for as long as possible.
Adapting cat games for osteoarthritis
For the health of your companion, devote a daily play time to him from an early age. An adapted physical activity allows a cat to maintain its weight, its muscle mass and the flexibility of its joints, which are essential for its mobility. In addition, play sessions help reduce stress on the animal. Such a ritual will also help you spot changes in behavior indicative of osteoarthritis in the cat, which spontaneously limits its movements in the event of pain.
- Try out the classic games: a laser or a flashlight to project on the walls.
- Play hide and seek games with him. Hide behind a door or under a blanket and let him find you, or arrange boxes and boxes that he will enjoy hiding himself in. You can also hide treats in your home, to encourage him to look for them.
- Arrange its bowls in different places of the house or at a height to combine play and food. Also consider toys to fill with kibble, which dispense treats when the animal moves them.
- Set up an agility course for cats, adapting them to their age and ability to move. Ladders, tunnels, platforms and obstacles can be purchased or homemade to create a fun course that stimulates the animal.
- Take it for a walk. If your cat is receptive to it, there are harnesses and leashes suitable for felines.
If your pet already suffers from osteoarthritis, seems less flexible or has lost mobility, adapt the game to limit the impact on his joints.
- Avoid making him jump or reduce the height of the jumps by limiting suspended solicitations;
- Add elements to the play space to provide it with intermediate steps, a stool between the floor and the chest of drawers, for example;
- Manage as much as possible the path of the strings and light points to avoid flip-flops, braking and sudden acceleration, which exert strong joint pressure;
- Focus on regular, but brief sessions.
If your cat refuses to play, don’t force it. It can be a protective reflex in the face of pain, often difficult to spot in felines. In this case, do not insist and consult your veterinarian in order to identify and alleviate any possible suffering.
Osteoarthritis in cats: what diet for their health?
Overweight or obesity in cats are factors favoring the development of osteoarthritis. The same goes for nutritional deficiencies during the growth of the kitten, which can cause deformities that cause early osteoarthritis. To keep it healthy, watch your pet’s weight and diet from an early age. Choose quality foods, watching rations. And if you include treats in the games, adapt the daily ration accordingly!
Whether you choose kibble or homemade, have your cat’s diet monitored by your veterinarian in order to adapt it to its age and needs. A healthcare professional will be able to advise you in developing a suitable diet in the event of weight gain, or even before it occurs: sterilization can, for example, promote it. He may also recommend food supplements or foods enriched with substances that protect the cartilage if he considers it necessary.
Choosing the right bedding against osteoarthritis in cats
The quality of bedding can also impact joint health, especially for a cat with osteoarthritis. Offer your animal solutions that isolate it from the cold, drafts or humidity, all of which aggravate pain, tension and stiffness. Also avoid sleeping too hard, which puts more pressure on the joints. It is difficult to force a cat to sleep, but different options will allow it to adapt its choice to its level of comfort.
- Whether it’s a cushion, cat house or basket, check the thickness of the support to insulate the animal from the ground. Avoid high edges for an elderly cat or one already suffering from osteoarthritis, which can make it difficult for them to enter.
- Place it away from drafts and, if possible, near a heat source.
- Think of the memory foam mattress, ideal for limiting pressure points. It conforms to the contours of the body evenly to relieve pain and promote muscle relaxation.
- Multiply the options. Do not hesitate to complete a main bed with cushions or blankets arranged in its favorite places.
To give your pet the best possible care, ask your veterinarian for advice. He will help you choose the solutions best suited to the specific needs of your companion at each period of his life, in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis in cats.
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Article reviewed and validated by veterinarian Dr. Michèle Gorissen
To read also: Osteoarthritis of the cat: prevention, symptoms and treatment