Guest post by: Rebecca Welters, pawsomekitty.com
After many years of loving cat ownership, you may run into problems as your cat begins to age and reach the final stages of life. Living with a senior cat is challenging, but there are plenty of rewarding aspects too.
Arthritis is all too common
Senior cats are highly likely to develop illnesses and conditions which can cause pain and discomfort if not cared for properly. Arthritis is common in older cats; 90% of cats over the age of 12 show signs of arthritis in X-rays. Unfortunately, arthritis in cats is often unrecognized.
Cats are very good at masking their pain, and many owners are none-the-wiser when it comes to arthritis. When cats develop this condition, they tend to become more inactive and owners naturally attribute this to older age. An arthritic cat will spend a lot more time resting, sleeping, and will less-commonly jump and crawl into places which they once loved.
If you are ever in doubt about whether or not your cat is suffering from arthritis, it is always best to see your vet first. If you have a suspicion that this is the case, it is best to go see a professional who can help to diagnose and solve the problems.
Managing arthritis in cats
If you do have a cat who is arthritic, there are many things which can help. Limited ingredient cat foods are always a good choice, because they contain simple ingredients which are packed with nutrients, healthy fatty acids and animal-based proteins which help to maintain your cat’s joints and overall health.
There are medications available too, such as Adequan, which is injected, or oral medications like Tramadol, that can help relieve pain from arthritis. Natural supplements like glucosamine or fish oil can support hip and joint health.
There can be side effects when introducing any new substances to your cat; your veterinarian will recommend the best course of treatment for your particular kitty.
If you have a cat who is particularly thick around the thighs (especially due to inactivity) then helping your cat lose weight can release undue stress and pressure on your cat’s joints. This will not stop the arthritis, but will make living with it much more comfortable. There are lots of ways your cat can lose some extra weight but, again, your veterinarian can suggest the best and safest methods to help facilitate this.
Provide some extra comfort
Aside from all of this, general good care goes a long way to help your cat live a more comfortable and pain-free life. Make sure your cat has plenty of soft bedding which will help relieve pressure on the joints and try to keep the litterbox nearby for easy access. While some exercise can help keep joints healthy and arthritis more managed, having your cat walk up and down stairs every time he or she needs to use the litterbox will not do any good at all.
Try adding some pet stairs or extra platforms, so your cat doesn't have to jump as high to get to her favorite places. Set up a bed in the sun, or near a heat vent in the winter, to help her stay warm and cozy.
Although arthritis is not a condition which can be cured, it can be controlled, and your cat can still live a healthy, happy and comfortable life alongside arthritis.