From food supplements to natural medicines, natural treatments use different approaches to relieve osteoarthritis in cats. These alternative therapies often complement conventional drug treatments to improve the animal’s comfort of life.
Chondroprotectors against osteoarthritis in cats
Chondroprotective agents refer to a set of substances aimed at protecting and strengthening the joints. Some, like glucosamine and chondroitin, are naturally made by the body and are involved in building cartilage. Others, like omega 3 or turmeric, are substances of natural origin with anti-inflammatory properties. The right amount and the right combination of chondroprotectors would help relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis in cats, slow down the breakdown of the disease-specific cartilage and promote wound healing. The absorption of these substances by the body hardly results in any side effects.
They are found in the form of injections or food supplements, more commonly used. They can be supplemented by cat food enriched with chondroprotective agents and anti-inflammatory substances, such as vitamin E. In case of overweight, they are also accompanied by a diet, another essential natural treatment against osteoarthritis in cats.
Among the most common chondroprotectors we find:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin, two constituents of cartilage naturally present in the body;
- Collagen hydrolyzate, which produces type 2 collagen, another constituent of cartilage;
- Omega 3, essential fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties;
- Plant, fruit or spice extracts with anti-inflammatory properties: green tea, harpagophytum, cat’s claw, pine bark, rosemary, devil’s claw, turmeric or ginger, blackcurrant or rosehip fruit …
Cat arthritis: biotherapies
New therapies from life are now used by veterinarians to relieve the pain of cats with osteoarthritis. These biological treatments consist of injecting monoclonal antibodies, stem cells or plasma enriched with platelets in order to stimulate the body’s natural repair processes. Their cost is variable and can offer an effective approach against osteoarthritis:
- Injection of monoclonal antibodies. This is the injection of a monoclonal antibody whose role will be to target and neutralize the growth factors (NGF) involved in osteoarthritis pain. The injection of this protein will provide significant pain relief and reduce inflammation in the joints. Its elimination is done by the normal channels, the liver and the kidneys are weakly solicited and the digestive system is itself little disturbed.
- Stem cell injection involves adding healthy cells to the diseased joint. Taken from the adipose tissue of the cat itself or from a donor, they are cultivated in the laboratory in order to multiply them. They are then reinjected into the joint, where they must stimulate tissue regeneration, reduce inflammation and soothe pain *.
- The injection of PRP, the plasma enriched in platelets, uses blood taken from the animal. This is immediately centrifuged in order to remove the red blood cells and most of the white blood cells. The resulting blood plasma has a concentration of platelets two to three times higher than in normal blood, as well as proteins and growth factors **. Once reinjected, the PRP must accelerate the healing of the tissues, and therefore reduce the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis in cats.
Alternative medicines to fight against osteoarthritis in cats
Alternative medicine can be an additional asset in the range of treatments available. The benefits of these natural therapies are sometimes debated. Dispensed by qualified veterinarians, they are however safe.
- Veterinary homeopathy consists of administering natural ingredients, mostly vegetable, in the form of drops or granules.
- Herbal medicine also uses ingredients from plants, but in the form of decoctions. Some plants, such as turmeric, even have an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Feline osteopathy is a gentle manual therapy that involves handling the animal to relieve it, improve its comfort and mobility. It is used in particular to soothe contractures and spasms caused by osteoarthritis in cats.
- Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine, practiced on humans as well as animals. Painless, it consists of inserting fine needles under the skin, at specific pressure points. It can help relieve pain and relax cats with osteoarthritis.
Cat arthritis and functional rehabilitation
Used by many veterinarians, functional rehabilitation, or physiotherapy, helps to act on the symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats, from pain to mobility. The manipulations and exercises thus help:
- To maintain muscle mass, essential for supporting the joints;
- To maintain or improve flexibility and range of motion;
- To untie the tensions and contractures;
- To improve blood circulation.
Practiced in a center and supplemented with home exercises, rehabilitation can effectively improve the comfort of a cat with osteoarthritis. It combines a set of painless and natural techniques, used in a similar way to treat human osteoarthritis, including:
- Electrotherapy or electrostimulation, a gentle neurological stimulation by the emission of an electric current;
- Ultrasound therapy, using sound waves for their thermal or micro-massaging effects;
- Physiotherapy, a set of passive manipulations and active exercises, for example on a treadmill or on a ball;
- Massage therapy, manual manipulations to massage and stretch;
- Laser and shock waves, devices that stimulate tissue and irrigation;
- Thermotherapy and cryotherapy, consisting of applying heat or cold;
- Hydrotherapy, with walking on a treadmill in the water or swimming in a pool, if your cat does not refuse contact with the water.
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The advice of your veterinarian is essential in the course of treatment for osteoarthritis in cats, even for natural treatments that are in principle harmless. Do not hesitate to consult it to establish a personalized support. He can also direct you to qualified veterinary practitioners if necessary.
Article reviewed and validated by veterinarian Dr. Michèle Gorissen