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Osteoarthritis in cats: a small miracle on the horizon

It has long been known that the vast majority of cats over the age of 12, around 90%, have osteoarthritis. These lesions are visible on X-rays. In short, our aging companions have at least one of their joints that hurts, or maybe more. Although treating and relieving osteoarthritis in cats has always been a challenge, there seems to be hope with the advent of a new treatment.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative, progressive and chronic condition in a joint. Wear and tear… The incidence of this disease increases with age, however, almost 60% of cats over 6 years of age would already have X-ray signs of osteoarthritis.

But cats suffer in silence. It seems that only 4% of owners are aware of their pain.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis are insidious and progressive, and the cat does not tend to limp when suffering from this joint disease. The symptoms are more subtle to the less discerning eye. The cat will certainly tend to move less and less and reduce these activities. He will move less or seem to have a somewhat stiff gait, as if he were walking on eggshells. He doesn’t want to play anymore. He will hesitate to jump on a piece of furniture or will no longer do so. He will find it more difficult to climb the stairs and must only do so if it is really necessary.

A cat that has joint pain may also groom less and its coat will be less shiny or more “cottony.”

Because of the pain, many cats can also have potty training problems. Accidents, such as peeing out of the litter box, can happen because the cat has difficulty getting in, getting in, or bending down far enough.

We will also see changes in the attitude or character of the suffering cat. Some will isolate themselves and reduce their social connections, while others may become more irritable, even aggressive.

Since cats are secretive about pain, tools have been created to help determine if a cat is in pain. See one of my columns in The newspaper on the facial grimace scale here.

The treatment of osteoarthritis is a multimodal approach. With the veterinary team, you have to work on several levels at the same time to achieve good pain control. Here are some tips.

  1. Change the animal’s environment to make things easier for it.
  2. Offer specialized veterinary food for osteoarthritis as well as certain supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, essential fatty acids, etc.).
  3. Help an overweight cat lose weight.
  4. Add physiotherapy sessions and even acupuncture by vets with expertise.
  5. Get cats on appropriate veterinary medication (analgesics, anti-inflammatories, etc.).

New treatment

It sounds simple, but it is not always easy to medicate a cat, as it is very sensitive to many drug molecules. Veterinarians have therefore always had fewer treatment options for cats than for dogs.

But recently, a new treatment has emerged to treat pain related to osteoarthritis in cats, and it seems to work small miracles.

It is a monthly treatment, by subcutaneous injection, of monoclonal antibodies that target a protein (NGF) that intervenes in the regulation of pain and thus prevents the pain signal from reaching the brain and the cat to “feel” or perceive pain.

Talk to your vet about it! Cats have finally received “their” treatment for osteoarthritis.

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