This page is about cat osteoarthritis. This is degenerative joint disease – the wearing out of the cartilage that covers the surface of the joint resulting in bone to bone contact. The bone becomes rough which damages the joint. The process may begin during the first half of a cat’s life, becoming apparent later on. It is an illness associated with the geriatric cat. The signs are stiffness, lameness and pain.
There may be swelling around the joint. The leg muscles may become weak and wasted through lack of use. Although osteoarthritis cannot be cured, cat caretakers can take preventative steps.
My late, lady cat had osteoarthritis. My mother had a ginger tabby cat who decided to live in the wild when he was young. When he came back home about 15 years later (true) he was massively arthritic and would walk slightly sideways on. He was quite wild too unsurprisingly.
Products that are available over the counter without your vet’s involvement are a group of supplements called “chondoprotectants”. They are products that fall between drug and nutrient called “nutraceuticals”. Note: It is always wise to see your vet first to confirm that your cat has degenerative joint disease and that these easily available products are necessary and will do some good. These products have decent reputations but are not scientifically tested as far as I am aware. The general view is that they are useful and reasonably effective.
The classic supplement that old people sometimes use for joint injury is glucosomine. It is also available for cats. This product is meant to repair and protect the cartilage in the joint. It helps to prevent the breakdown of the cartilage. It should be used early on. The difficulty would seem to be to spot the beginnings of osteoarthritis.
There are lots of products of this type out there. Google, “glucosamine and chondroitin cats” for example. You’ll find a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin for your cat. Chondroitin sulphate is also used to aid cartilage production and repair. It is intended to prevent damage and control pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin for cats have minimal side effects we are told.
Other products that are suitable to help control osteoarthritis in cats are:
- Perna cannaliculus, green-lipped mussel – cartilage protection and repair (minimal side effects).
- Sea cucumber, sea jerky – cartilage protection and repair (minimal side effects).
- Methylsulfonlmethane (MSM) – controls pain (minimal side effects).
- Omega-3 fatty acids – anti-inflammatory with minimal side effects.
- Vitamins C and E – antioxidants – avoid high doses (see vet).
- Boswellia – this is an anti-inflammatory herb with minimal side effects (see picture).
- Yucca – another anti-inflammatory herb containing “steroidal saponins”. As I understand it, these are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants. Minimal side effects.
Cats with arthritis benefit from “moderate exercise”. This helps exercise the muscles to stop them wasting. Overweight cats with arthritis should lose weight. Medications for cat arthritis should be given under veterinary supervision only.
Original picture of Shorty.
Sources: Myself and Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0
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