King of the Jungle, or At least of the House

by Kim Schur

A few years ago I noticed that George, my 15 year old cat, was no longer sleeping on my bed.  He wasn’t lying on my lap as often when I watched TV and I also noticed that he was using the litter box on the main floor much more than the ones in the basement.  These were subtle changes in his behavior, but what was causing it?

As cats age, they can develop osteoarthritis just like dogs and people.  Could that be what was happening to George?  Yes!

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Cats are great at hiding pain and discomfort so we have to pay attention to these subtle changes.   Some of the symptoms to pay attention to are:

  • Decreased activity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Less social
  • More vocal
  • Poor grooming habits
  • Not using the litter box
  • Hesitance or avoiding jumping on furniture

Although some of these symptoms may also indicate an infection or injury, often times it can be caused by arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease.

Options for Cats with Osteoarthritis

I wanted to help George be as comfortable as possible in his senior years.  Unfortunately there aren’t many pain medications available for cats and they can often times can be difficult to give.  (If you’ve ever tried to pill a cat you know what I mean!) So I looked for other ways to ease George’s discomfort.

He enjoys being brushed so I try to make sure to do that at least weekly to prevent him from getting uncomfortable mats.  I also purchased a small set of stairs so that he could get on and off the couch without my assistance which he learned to use almost immediately!  Supplements such as fish oil and glucosamine are beneficial too and these products are easily added to wet food as they are a liquid and a powder.

His nightly massage and Assisi Loop treatments are a favorite!  Gentle massage increases circulation and provides relief to sore muscles while the Assisi Loop is a wonderful “at home” tool used to reduce inflammation and lower pain levels.

Some additional things that can benefit arthritic cats are:

  • Heated pet beds (Caution – make sure it doesn’t get too hot)
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Therapeutic laser therapy
  • Assisi Loop (at home treatment)
  • Keep nails trimmed
  • Weight loss (if overweight)
  • Make litter boxes easily accessible

King of the House

George is doing well and enjoys the extra TLC!  Being a typical cat, life revolves around him.  It’s all about George!  I’m sure many of your cats feel the same, and as pet parents, we wouldn’t have it any other way.